Coimbra, Portugal

An unusual sense of calm has overcome me, as the legal noose gets tighter and tighter around the orange felon’s neck.

Now that I have decided — following what happened to the front of our house last week (see previous post) — to leave for good, the question is where in Portugal.

The Algarve’s far too hot to live there year-round.

Right now, there is much that I like about a city called Coimbra, which, like many cities in the Iberian peninsula, has a Moorish history  — which I love, as it gives me a sense of belonging, of not being a stranger, but the descendant of those who once ruled here, for many centuries.

I have much to learn about this beautiful inland town on a river, between Porto and Lisbon, but so far, what I am finding out is attractive — including the cost of renting a flat or buying a house.

Pic credit to Porto Guitarra

I need to start listening to the music of Carlos Paredes and how to play a Coimbra guitar. His personal story, too, resonates.

I need to start studying Portuguese, and at learning more than saying obrigado. Ah, to be able to read Pessoa in the original!

I also want to learn more about the tragic story (there always seems to be a story of doomed lovers in Portugal, just like the one in Tavira with the river of two names, Gilão and Séqua), but here the star-crossed lovers are Pedro and Ines from 1336, and I want, also, to visit the Fontes des amores and of course check out the Casa de Escrita.

Most of all, I need to find a way to deal with my personal and long-term history of Saudade.

I have carried this depressive affliction with me since I was 16, which is also why I feel a sense of kinship when I hear Fado music and I get all quiet and pay attention to every note, every intonation of suffering that seeks not pity, every plaintive cry of unbearable hurt and unrequited love or, worse yet, of love that disappeared after once seeming so promisingly eternal.

I have yearned for things that used to be and vanished, some in the blink of an eye, others not so suddenly, but slowly, like the sense of history that is finally being drained out of what is left of my once beloved Cairo, not just in my lifetime, but sometimes for things that happened even well before that, that I know of through books and dream plays and old movies and the poetry of the maudits.

I want to live in a life where suddenly I can see a beautiful young woman walking down the street, or glimpse the remnants of a ruined Moorish castle by the sea, and not feel an unbearable sadness, of knowing how things usually turn out, in this world which often takes from us for no reason that which we most love, snatched just like that away from us for no reason at all.

I am 67 years old now, and sometimes I still tear up like a boy.

Who knows how much time is left for me, after the ruinous lost decade and a half I’ve just spent in Florida?

But one thing I do know is that I refuse — when the time comes, which I hope of course shall not be for many years — to be buried in this country. For a lot of reasons, some of them not really that pleasant to talk about, and so I won’t.

I need to find a place where I can feel at ease and enjoy my life again, and so I wrote about that to me Mum, to which she quipped back, gallows humor style, via email, yes, the new meaning of RIP: Rest in Portugal.

I originally thought that perhaps my final resting place should be in England, where I was born, in Stafford in the Midlands — perhaps under a shady tree in the gracious Eccleshall Road Cemetery that I remember faintly from my youth when I took walks in the country with my grandad, whose first name was Percy, and whom my Nanny called Perse, until I saw this, and showed it to my wife.

One look at that Mirror article, and her snappy immediate retort was “I guess nowadays RIP actually means rest in plastic.”

So much for Saudade wallowing in the mire.leaving america


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