I sit typing this in a quaint cafe while eating the most delicious pastel de nata and sipping a fresh mint tea…
I mean, not at this very moment.
No instead I am in my American Girl Doll-sized apartment sitting on the four square feet of flour between my bed, bathroom, and kitchen chugging warm tap water and cough syrup intermittently trying to fend off / ignore the impending cold that my compromised and sleep-deprived immune system has been battling on carbs alone.
I am the picture of wellness.
How did I get here you may ask?
Referring to my physical location of Lisbon, Portugal I’m spending the semester abroad studying at the local university and living once again in a glorified dormitory.
Lisbon has been a dream. One in which every destination is truly uphill and I have permanent back sweat.
But in all reality, my life in Lisbon has been pretty sweet.
A train ride from the beach, access to some of the best wine and seafood in the world, all while being perched right next to the whole of Europe.
To say I have been living my best life would be the understatement of the century.
Which brings me to how I got here, my kitchen/bathroom/bedroom floor.
For the past four weekends, I have been traveling. From islands to Africa, two countries in one weekend. Leaving for the airport from class on Thursday only to uber to class Monday after hopping off the first Ryanair flight of the morning.
It’s been amazing.
But, and there’s always an unavoidable but…I am beyond exhausted.
I know this sounds completely understandable and one thousand percent predictable given the circumstances, but I wasn’t prepared for my reaction to my dissipating need for speed.
See, I have this problem where I like to think of myself as untouchable. I truly believe that I can do it all. So with two months’ worth of plane tickets booked, I set out to do the impossible: conquer Europe.
And you know what, for a month and a half, it worked!
I managed to party my way across Europe and still wake up for my eight-hour day’s worth of classes the next morning.
I was able to scrounge together an acceptable capsule wardrobe to match the effortlessly business casual “I’m not trying” look that all my European peers seem to have perfected at the ripe age of eighteen.
I tried some weird foods, learned which places sell acceptable grocery store sushi, and where you can get the best pitcher of Sangria in the city.
Until….surprise surprise, Europe fought back.
I didn’t get food poisoning. I came down with something worse, a case of homesickness.
As annoying as it is, I can’t sustain myself purely off freshly baked bus stop croissants, a seemingly endless supply of filtered bottled water, and an average amount of sleep less than an on-call doctor.
Yes, my life in Lisbon has been all that I’ve dreamed of and more. I spend my afternoons wandering the local market and sourcing some of the best vintage I’ve ever laid my grubby little hands on all while chowing down on my daily gelato.
But on cold and rainy days like today, I miss the simple things about home.
I miss boxed mac and cheese and my teriyaki beef jerky that the Portuguese customs confiscated. Dangerous stuff there.
I miss smiling at people, not as an invitation to catcall you in a foreign language. I miss my dog, predictable. And my siblings, didn’t see that one coming.
I miss fall, carving pumpkins, changing leaves, warm drinks, and cold nights. Which is silly because how can I complain when Lisbon hovers at sunny and 75 year-round?
It’s all the things that I normally don’t think twice about that I’ve come to miss.
Like, have you ever tried to make chocolate chip cookies in a convection microwave oven?
No, well it’s nearly impossible.
So while I finally have an excuse to be insufferable now that my life is actually interesting, I also have the worst half-baked char blob that would bring Nestlé to its knees.
Life is full of trade-offs. And while this wave of nostalgia will come to pass, I’ll be the first to admit that not even a lifetime’s worth of romanticising Europe can make change easy.
Especially when you can’t get a half-decent emotional support chocolate chip cookie.