We didn't do much today. It was a holiday so we didn't go to the beach. It was too cold anyway. We spent the day here at Quinta da Loia. When I considered blogging tonight, I thought I might skip it since we had no grand adventures. Sure, I could write about playing soccer in the yard with Miguel and watching Zeca dig in the dirt but that's hardly what people expect when they think of a European vacation. It's not even what I think about when I think about a vacation here. Somehow, I get sucked into thinking that it should be all castles, cobblestone, history, vineyards and sidewalk cafes. Once again, I have realized that I am a person that can get caught up in the idea of something rather than the actual experience of it. Tsk tsk...shame on me. So, I am blogging because of this realization. I am sitting here at my father-in-law's desk. It's one of those enormous, wooden desks that makes you feel as if you are engaged in something of importance even when you are not. I am looking east and watching the sun set. It was a cloudy and cool day here and the clouds are purple, pink and orange dancing across the tops of the eucalyptus trees. The children are in bed and it is quiet. Not too shabby, huh?
I have been thinking about the word relief and its many meanings. On this trip, I have certainly been relieved of some of my responsibilities...my work, my duties around the house, our routine. I've also been relieved to realize that I am enjoying my time here. Most people probably wouldn't understand how I could possibly be surprised by that, so, let me explain. When we came here last, I was about 11 weeks pregnant and was tired and nauseous and petulent. The food, the smells, the isolation, the overwhelming sense of displacement were magnified by the pregnancy. My biggest pregnancy related craving was for the familiar and I couldn't have it. It was such a strong experience that when we planned this trip, I felt sick all over - worried that I could never overcome the way I felt the last time. The relief came on our first trip to the beach this time. I stood in the ocean up to my waist, waves crashing into my back, the sun on my shoulders. I looked toward the sand where Luisa and the children were happily playing and I felt true joy for the first time in several months. A tremendous relief on many levels. It's a relief that things are going so well...that the children ate heaping platefuls of squid today without saying a word...that the children have eagerly sought out the grandparents they see so little...that I have it in me to try to speak and that my Portuguese is better than I remember. It's a relief to know that after all that has happened this year I can still be happy.