The last day of our trip had arrived. We trod Lisbon’s ancient cobblestones deep within a damp bittersweet cloud so thick we could taste it. We walked past more of Lisbon’s famous sights and scenes, like the funicular trolley above, trying our hardest to be invested in the final moments of an adventure that had surpassed our expectations in ways impossible to describe. We lunched with the friends Max had met while living in Amsterdam, who introduced us to their new city earlier in our visit. We said goodbye after our meal and added their faces to the collection of people in our memories that, probably unbeknownst to them, compose the substance that will make this trip unforgettable. We drifted up toward the São Jorge Castle, and took in its commanding view of a beautiful city covered today in a gray, albeit glistening, blanket of clouds. The thing had happened. Our minds now existed in that place between what is happening now and what we are expecting to happen next. We had been torn from the moment and now couldn’t ignore the uncertainty that faced us at the end of tomorrow’s international flight. We wandered around the castle grounds taking photos and finally spectated a powerful piece of performance art that was taking place in one of the fortification’s open squares. It was time to descend back into town, toward our accommodation, and into the reality of a life transition that had already begun.
Sitting in our last home-away-from-home, packing our backpacks for the last time, a powerful feeling of gratefulness began to mix with and finally overpower the anxious energy of uncertainty. We were over-the-moon lucky to have been able to experience everything in the contents of this blog (and much more) and this good fortune will never be lost on us. The end of anything, especially something as paradigm-shattering as a 5-month trip around the world, is difficult. But as we sat there moving around the beloved fragments of our memory of the trip, rationalizing what had happened and what was to come, it eventually became impossible not to look forward to what was coming next. Wide open future is both scary and exciting. Its endless potential began to materialize in front of us, and we realized that we now had an arsenal of life-changing experiences and lessons on our side, which we had meticulously curated and collected from countries around the world. There is a worn out figure of speech expounding that the only thing you can buy that makes you richer is travel, and in spite of our currently alarming financial situation we certainly did not feel poor. Everything we needed to dig our heels in and walk through that threshold into the future was there, and was not going anywhere. A bag full of souvenirs, a head full of memories, and hands full of one another’s.