Laura Fortune

Portugal

Two Weeks, Wut?

Moving, Life Learning, International Travel, PortugalLaura FortuneComment

At this exact time in two weeks, I will be sitting in the Lisbon airport, waiting to board a plane and fly back to the US.   

My plan is vague at this moment, and I have a few options for what I'll be doing while back in the States for three months.  The options so far are, a west coast road-trip at craft shows, an artist residency in Southern Georgia, a summer in Brooklyn working at a Summer Concert Series and other odd jobs, even an offer to live in Seattle.  In the next two weeks this plan will take a shape.  But also in these two weeks, I will feel a sadness and uncertainty about how I am spending my last days in Lisbon, until I return in September.

I have settled into a life of spending time with my friends, eating at local places, working at the studio, or being home.  It isn’t so different from my previous life in NYC.  I stopped exploring as much as I did when I first arrived, and a guilty feeling has hit that I just didn’t do enough and my time is running out. 

“It will all be here when you return,” is what I am told.  But the next three months hold so much mystery, and I wonder what I will have experienced and who I will be when I return.

I ran into a guy I met here in Lisbon, and he was telling me about his plans to move.  Even though I could see the trepidation of getting everything in order, I congratulated him.  I know from my experience you have to keep putting one foot forward and plans evolve, the fear is a waste of time, although difficult to avoid.  He agreed and told me of an old Portuguese saying that goes something like, 'If all you have is cold water for your shower and you don’t want to take a cold shower, then lather your body with soap and using cold water to rinse is the only choice.'  I still kind of laugh at this story, and ummmm, okay, I guess it makes sense.  Lather up, the rest is inevitable. 

I will miss it here, and I will try not to dwell on every passing day…the 14 days and one hour.  These are some of my daily sights I don’t want to forget. 

Saturday and Sunday Morning cartoons in Portuguese

Saturday and Sunday Morning cartoons in Portuguese

The view as I sit in the window of my apartment on a rainy evening.

The view as I sit in the window of my apartment on a rainy evening.

My next door neighbor, the Panteão Nacional.

My next door neighbor, the Panteão Nacional.

Sights I see walking to and from the atelier to my home.

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When I leave the studio, this yellow building always pops up in my view and I love that.

When I leave the studio, this yellow building always pops up in my view and I love that.

PANDO People

Moving, Art, Portugal, Studio, Life LearningLaura FortuneComment

So here I am presently, living in Lisbon, Portugal.  The women I met back in October, that set such an impression in my mind, are exactly the kind, smart, funny, talented and real type of people that I suspected I had found.  The type of group that made me want to pack up my life and move to another country.  They make up the studio called PANDO, and now I am a part of it as well...

The women of PANDO have welcomed me with wide-open arms and I couldn’t imagine experiencing moving to Portugal without having this little community. 

I have found sisters.

I lived in NYC for over 13 years and moving there out of college, I had never lived anywhere else as an adult.  I had a wonderful full-time job and good friends, but for a few years I was on a rollercoaster ride in my mind, of when to leave and where to go.  New York City isn’t an easy place to be, but cutting the cord and leaving it is a hard decision, too.

Check out Joan Didion's 1967 essay, "Goodbye To All of That"  A timeless and relevant piece on the topic of leaving NYC.

I wanted to step-out on my own as an artist and designer, and finding an inspiring location, an energetic and welcoming artist community and low-cost of living, was a difficult criteria for me to pinpoint in America.  I just didn’t feel strong enough about any place.  And then I found Lisbon, but more over, I found PANDO.

My idea was to come here for the trial period of what an EU tourist visa would allow, to see how it felt to be in the Portuguese culture, around the language and get to know people, to work in an art studio here and to attempt a life as an expat.  I wanted to do some traveling on the side to feel that solo-travel inspiration again. 

Fortunately and amazingly it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life with no end in sight.

Let's Rewind (to October 2016)

Moving, Art, International Travel, Life Learning, Portugal, StudioLaura FortuneComment

I had always wanted to travel more.  I think at some points of my life I thought I would have someone to travel with, so I waited.  And waited.

One weekend in June 2016, two of my best friends became engaged, and I saw wedding RSVPs on the horizon.  I had waited long enough and it was time for me to book the ticket.

I was to spend 18 days traveling around Spain by myself.  My first true vacation that was over two weeks long, and my first time truly traveling alone internationally.

I began spreading the news, “I am going to Spain in October!” and soon I recognized a pattern.  The response I received over and over, “oh cool, you should also go to Portugal.”  I was all, No, I said I am going to Spain.

Eventually I planned a trip where I would split my time between Spain and Portugal. That trip for me felt like a rebirth.  I had found a pleasure that I have never known and it was solo travel.  Lisbon was my final destination, and the feeling was immediate for me upon arrival.  The tiled and painted buildings, the parks, the stone sidewalks, the lookouts, the river, the light, and I had a sinking feeling.  Like a love feeling.  I haven’t been in love in a long time, and the feeling in the pit of my stomach was finding something I wanted to be a part of….and then I met a group of Portuguese women in a light-filled beautiful cooperative art studio in a little alcove on a dead-end street, and I knew I wanted to be a part of their world, too.  I teared up on my walk home from those initial sweet conversations of how they felt about making artwork and traveling and encouragement of living in other countries for a time.  I had never wanted to be somewhere more.

 

On October 21, four days after returning from this trip, I bought a one-way ticket from NYC to Lisbon.

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On October 27, I told my employer of over a decade that I wouldn’t be returning in 2017.

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In December I sold or donated everything I had collected in NYC for the past 13 years.

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On January 1, 2017 I drove out of NY, with everything I owned in the back of my Jeep.

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I took a little trip.

Illustration, International Travel, Life Learning, Moving, PortugalLaura FortuneComment

I have spent the last two weeks traveling through Spain and Portugal.  It was my first time traveling solo internationally for that length of time, and I have to say, I don't know how I will ever want to experience travel any differently.  There was so much quiet time for me to just look and listen and observe people and to think and write.  It was the most special time I've ever had and it has opened my mind to making travel as much a priority as making artwork.  There are pleasures we all find in life, and these two are topping my charts.  

I've considered that prior to social media and online photosharing, we used to have friends and family over to our homes and pull out a dusty slide projector to show our boring vacation pictures to our loved ones.  I'm going to spare you the endless line of colorful architecture and beautiful farmlands and ocean views, and I will just post a few of the watercolors I painted while on this little trip.  

 

 

Sitting in a Gaudi creation.

Sitting in a Gaudi creation.

Sitting on a wall next to a river.

Sitting on a wall next to a river.

Sitting on a beach chair and people watching.

Sitting on a beach chair and people watching.

Sitting alone for dinner.

Sitting alone for dinner.

Sitting for lunch at a sweet cafe.

Sitting for lunch at a sweet cafe.

Sitting at the airport waiting for a connecting flight.

Sitting at the airport waiting for a connecting flight.