The pieces of the puzzle

Wednesday evening of the strangest summer I can remember. Are we really in July or have we set the calendar wrong? – we ask ourselves one grey morning after another. Last year it was the tragedy of the wildfires – now sadly replicated in Greece – and now there is even a joke on internet about someone asking our prime minister – highly criticised last year because his government was anything but effective regarding the fires – how he plans to avoid them this year, and he smilingly replies “I’ve told the summer to go away”.


All over Europe skies are blue and temperatures high, but in our little corner we are grudgingly beginning to accept the idea that we won’t get much sun and even less a nice tan this year.


11 pm of a Wednesday evening and the house is strangely quiet. It is usually so in July; the boys  finished university and have fled Lisbon. Afonso is travelling with one of his best friends in Eastern Europe. They flew to Bucharest, Rumania and then went on to Sofia, Bulgaria and Skopje, Macedonia. Afonso – who loves history – was excited to visit Alexander the Great’s homeland, but disappointed to find very little information about him there, not even in museums; however, he discovered with surprise Mother Teresa of Calcutta was born there. Today they had arrived in Pristina, Kosovo, a country we sadly link to the horrible war that raged the Balkans twenty years ago. Afonso tells me it’s a pleasant city and I’m looking forward to more news as they move on from one country to another.


Pedro has left for the Algarve with some of his best friends, from his early days of high school. Now that they are scattered around different universities, they still play in the same rugby team and they and go out at night together. They have been friends for almost ten years and I believe some of them will be friends for life. Some of them are going to university in England next year and Afonso considered going too, but when he thought about it there was no time to make the necessary arrangements. On the other hand he’s back with his girlfriend after months of heartache so he’ll probably consider moving there later on for his masters’ degree. I will certainly support him as I believe it would do him much good – as much as I suspect that, once he goes abroad, he will stay there for a long time, in search of better career opportunities.


Nuno and I had a wonderful weekend on the beach. Not the one we usually go to – where the misty weather is even worse this year – but to the south of Lisbon, in Arrábida, a magnificent landscape where a green mountain meets the sea with beautiful white sandy beaches…the weather was –luckily – wonderful and we enjoyed the now somewhat rare sun and the good food of the region too. We went by motorbike and it was fun to ride everywhere feeling like two young bikers – which we aren’t anymore of course.


As I look outside at the pitch black sky – no stars tonight – I think of all the pieces of this puzzle that constitutes my life. I remember so many other pieces I have not mentioned here – my friends who are fighting their own battles; my poor ailing Mother, a restless spirit trapped in a decaying body; my dear Mimi getting older but as indomitable as ever; my editor who has become a true friend and is helping me improve my book; my readers out there who give me the strength to carry on dreaming; and, last but not least, my work, where major changes will take place in the next few months; changes the old Teresa would have faced in anguish and the new Teresa sees as an incredible opportunity, with curiosity and determination and confidence. And above all with an inner calm that has surprised me.


Sometimes, on nights like this, all the pieces seem to be drifting away from each other without direction, but I know better. However far, however lost they may seem, they will find their way back. They will fill their place in the puzzle again and slowly life will be back to normal. Whatever “normal” means. Even if it means change; as long as I know how to turn change into opportunity and make the most of it.


Yes – the boys will come back home; together with Nuno we will soon be enjoying our well deserved holidays; everyone around us will be getting on with their lives, however hard some of them may be; and new professional challenges are just around the corner. Most of all, many hours of work still await me regarding my book – I will have to write quite a few dialogues, work hard on several characters and rewrite a few chapters. But I’m confident in the end the pieces will be together and the puzzle will be completed – if only to unmake it and start putting piece by piece together all over again. Such is the puzzle of my life, of any life.

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