31st of August

There it is. Another month of August is over. No other month leaves me with such a nostalgic feeling of time gone by too quickly. No other month has ever given me this need to hold time prisoner in my hands and make it stop. And it has been like this for a long time.

Not back in Mozambique, though. August there was a winter month, even if our winter there was mild for all standards. But since we came to Lisbon we adopted European habits and August became the month of holidays, the month of our stay in Madeira Island and equal to sun, sea, love stories, friends, beautiful landscapes and great adventures. After the 15th of August – that we celebrated going to the celebration of Our Lady at Monte, up in the mountain over Funchal – time began to fly and we felt it slipping through our fingers like sand… until the last day, the 31st, when on our way to the airport we looked back and shed the inevitable tears of longing for the fantastic holidays that were already over; and the first days of September always brought a feeling of hangover that took some time to go away.

Unsurprisingly, every last day of August makes me feel the same. I would say August is the last frontier of summer: in the last days of July you still feel you have most of the summer – or the best – ahead of you, but in the last day of August you simply know it’s over.

Every August is similar to the previous ones but different as well. This year we had the trip to Brittany, and then we had the days by the beach, with the same routines of each year: lazy mornings, going to the village for fresh bread and the newspapers; the boys eating bacon and eggs for breakfast at noon; going for long walks on the beach and having a drink at a terrace in the early evening; getting together with friends for dinner at a nice seafood restaurant or simply eating a hamburger at the terrace bar with live music; and also sulking on overcast days, complaining that the weather is not what we would like it to be… but even in August when all seems to come to a standstill life goes on inexorably, and we were very sad about the terrible fires that devastated great areas of Madeira, including Monte, where we used to celebrate the 15th of August (no great celebrations this year); we were  shocked with the terrible story that was in all the news, about the violent beating of a 15 year-old teenager by two 17 year-old boys, coincidentally the sons of a foreign diplomat accredited in Portugal; if the first situation made me call my friend Luisa to know if they were all right and feel relieved to know the whole family was safe, even if the images of my beloved island on fire were so terribly shocking and sad, the second made me ponder on teenage violence and how nightlife has become so dangerous. We all know of terrible stories and some of them unfortunately have happened to people we know – one of Afonso’s best friends was beaten in such a way a few years ago on New Year’s Eve that he spent some time in hospital with a severe concussion and the case was in the news for quite a while! Even Afonso, once, when coming out of a disco, was hit in his brow by a stone and called me at 5 am saying, “Mom, don’t worry, but I’m in an ambulance on my way to hospital…” And then, of course, all the other – that unfortunately have almost become a habit – news about the migrants and the war in Syria, and so on and so on; and, in the last few days, the terrible images coming from Italy after the earthquakes also left us bereft and hoping and praying a tragedy like that never comes to our door.

As in all the months of August, it seemed we were in our cocoon and the world was happening out there; but now it’s over, and we are back to the real world. Nostalgic for the sunny, lazy days behind us. Grateful for once again feeling you want to stop time and at the same time knowing you cannot do it. Because it means that we still find magic in this month, no matter how overcast some days are or how terrible some news may be; because it will leave us hoping for other summers, other months of August, the same routines, the sun and the heat and the cool breeze in the evenings and of course the sea, always the sea.

As look at the calendar and write off the last day of August I have that nostalgic feeling that has been so familiar for such a long time and it’s strange but I seem to enjoy it. To be nostalgic means you have lived cherished moments and that is what life is about after all. And as you close one door you always open another one. And the doors you’ll be opening from now on will inevitably lead you, sooner than you expect, to another spring, another summer, and another month of August when life will become calmer, softer, and for a time you will not run, but leisurely walk and enjoy the quietness of being free to choose your own agenda.

Yesterday was another 31st of August in my life. I hope for many more with the same feeling, as it will mean there will also be many more firsts of August… when it all begins.

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