There are moments in life when painful decisions have to be made and you have to learn to accept them and move on. An example is when, due to circumstances in your life, you have to part with a house or apartment you’re attached to.
My first house
I experienced this very early in my life when we had to leave our beloved house in Mozambique. We knew we’d be leaving the country anyway, but due to the feeling of insecurity – the house had absolutely no protections and after the revolution the situation was very unstable and we lived in fear of violence – Granddad decided to sell it and move into an apartment. I will never forget sitting in the back seat of the car and looking back as the house disappeared in the distance; tears were pouring down my cheeks and knew in my heart that I would never love a house as much as I had loved that one.
All the others
In fact I didn’t really get attached to any of the places I lived in after that: the beautiful 12th floor apartment facing the bay where we lived for the last six months in our city of Lourenço Marques (now Maputo); the apartment in the New Avenues of Lisbon where I lived with my family until I got married; the first apartment where I lived for the first three years of my marriage, nice and cozy but also one I wanted to get rid of as it was in a suburb of Lisbon and I hated the fact of not being in the city; still, it was what we could afford at the time and we spent some happy times there; then our lovely apartment with an attic wooden ceiling, that cost us a fortune and left us in debt for quite a few years, but meant our return to the city centre, to live in a traditional and friendly neighbourhood where our children were born. We also also lived happy times there but when we moved, maybe because we were fed up with climbing two sets of stairs and not having a parking place for our cars, I didn’t shed a tear, nor did I look back. After all, I was moving house because I wanted to, always to a better place.
I didn’t even flinch when, because of my divorce, I had to give up the beach house we had so lovingly built, where I had invested so much of my time and effort – a dream come true, the first house with a garden I had owned after that first house of my childhood, even if they were not comparable. I had chosen every tile, every piece of furniture, every drape and every decoration detail – but I had no regrets, not for one moment, and I was happy that it would continue to be my boys’ house as their father got it while I kept our new Lisbon apartment.
A special place by the sea
But then I got my beach apartment and I have feelings for it.
Maybe it is because I got it soon after falling in love again and beginning a new relationship with Nuno – it became very much our own place. At first, when our relationship was still our own secret we’d come here and simply enjoy each other’s company as only new lovers do; then we’d go out and feel the sun on our faces and walk to the beach, hand in hand, and we’d laugh and just feel happy to be alive and together. When I had the boys on weekends I would bring them over and get together with friends, they would go surfing and we mothers would sit on the sand and watch them while we talked; and then when Nuno and I could show ourselves to the world we’d come over, sometimes with the boys, sometimes with our friends, and this apartment would be a get together place on weekends. On summer holidays we’d spend three weeks here, the boys would bring their friends over and it would be a full house with so many beds…we’d hear them come back in the early hours of the morning and leave them sleeping as we went to the beach, but at dinner we’d have a big table where the young people would tell us about their hopes and dreams and we’ll all laugh and make merry…
Many times I would sit down at the living room table by the window and look out and silently gaze at the sea; sometimes there would be waves and at others it would be like a blue mirror and I would make a silent prayer of thanks because I could be here and enjoy this wonderful place, this apartment full of sun and with such a happy atmosphere.
Oh yes, I have been happy here, we have all been happy here.
At a point of my life when there are many uncertainties, when the only certainty is change – and I welcome it – one thing I am sure of : I hope I can keep my beach apartment. I don’t want to let it go as I have other apartments, other houses. It is too sunny, too bright, too near the beach for me to let it go. I want to go on waking up in the morning and listen to the birds singing on the trees outside my bedroom window; I want to open the blinds and be invaded by the bright morning sun; I want to go out and smell the sea and feel the light breeze on my face; I want to sit by the window and look outside and marvel at the beauty of the setting sun over the sea as I am doing right now. I want to come back from the beach on Summer late afternoons, tired by happy, with sand on my feet and a tan on my face and know that tomorrow there will be another sunny day and that I will do it all over again because I have an apartment by the beach and this is something I love to do.
Maybe it will be hard, but I don’t think I will let my beach apartment go – too many memories of the past, so many ones I want to make in the future. With Nuno, my boys, our friends, Nuno’s grandchildren and my own one day…
If in the end I have to I will accept it, because I have already learned that nothing in life lasts forever, and we must learn let go. But it will always have a special place in my heart, this lovely beach apartment where I hear the birds sing, feel the warm sunlight come in through the windows and marvel, every time, at the breathtaking view of the blue sea that I love.