My first impression of Portugal was that it was bright. Very, very bright. The white paint of Faro caused the sunshine to glare off everything. My eyes hurt and I wasn’t sure if it was because of a little head trauma I had recently experienced or my lack of sunglasses. Probably both.

I had to wait for my train and sat in a cafe, drinking coffee. Coffee makes things better. I bought postcards, the only souvenir I can afford. Writing also makes me feel better, and postcards were the only blank space I had to scribble. My notebook had been all used up in Morocco, and my computer was still kaput. The train ride to Lisbon was uneventful and quiet.

Lisbon seemed like a cool place, if I was ever there longer than a few hours and was in the mood to wander around. The bridges looked amazing, and the mini Christ the Redeemer statue guarding the harbor was interesting. The city seemed colorful and bright, but all I wanted to do was find my hostel and wait to go to the airport.

So I did. A very nice taxi driver meandered me through the outskirts of Lisbon, and I spent the night in a dorm room that I didn’t have to share with anyone. I finally broke down and cried. I hated that my mom was worried about me. I hated that my friends were so close, but not close enough. I hated that I made people worry, and that I was doubting my desire to keep travelling by myself. I hated that I couldn’t keep myself safe. I hated that when I looked in the mirror, I was reminded of a terrible thing that had happened. I wanted to forget and I didn’t want to be reminded.

When I told the story to some friends they called me a bad ass. Others just said, ‘I’m sorry that happened.’ A few wished they were with me (I agreed). I got sent virtual hugs and kitten pictures. Most people just told me to keep travelling safe, that it would be ok.

I didn’t feel like a bad ass. I didn’t feel tough. I felt stupid and vulnerable, two things no one should feel. I wanted to be back with my family, surrounded by people I knew, not being so scared.

I got on the plane. A surprise stop in the Azores islands put a smile on my face, and I talked about books and boys with the gal next to me. In Boston they told me, ‘Welcome back’ when I passed through customs. I had twenty whole dollars in my pocket, and bought myself dinner and a new notebook. I walked through every terminal in the airport to find my gate.

The plane to Seattle had hardly anyone on it, so we all had free seats between us. A myriad of tv channels reminded me why I don’t watch and how easy it is to get sucked into the mindless offerings of cable. Don’t get me started on the political situation- it’s more fucked up than my face.

We landed. I found my mom. She hugged me, and took pictures to prove to people I was really back in America and not dead. She tries to be subtle, and it doesn’t work. Her best friend picked us up and we crashed at her place for the night, with their three wonderfully wrinkly dogs. My view on life at the moment pretty much revolves around the idea that dogs are the best people, and I snuggled them until the next morning when we drove back to my parents’ house.


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