I wish to say only a few words : the text that follows was written by my boyfriend Nuno about his town, Porto. I do not believe it needs any comments on my part, so I will let you enjoy it and stand on its own.
Porto hadn’t been for me much more than a beverage offered to guests after a special meal. Following an ever different succession of tastes and colours would always come the same lonesome glass, of a dark ruby liquid within, both sweet and acidic. People would then go to the window, light cigarettes and seem to speak with more mindful words.
Afterwards, Porto became a place, found on a map at the far end of the continent, seemingly solitary, facing the Atlantic.
When I first came, on a train, after a curve and into the bridge, I saw its face: hills and cliffs of towering houses trapping a river below, cascading down into it. Amidst the mist and the grunting seagulls, it stood there, solemn.
From its inside, the streets were dark and narrow. Enclosed by the cold darkened granite and the long faded colours of their buildings, so many of them abandoned, they were grounds of an intangible desolation. They made up a maze, but one that lives for its dead ends: up through narrow stone steps or onto a shady alley, the town would open up to terraces, to views over the gloomy spectacle of itself. It would then seem to be silently resisting, not only against weather and time, but also longing.
I had heard of the latest financial crisis on a long succession of crisis, of an ongoing tradition of migration and separation and a past of oceanic travels and discoveries. Porto was a port, that was its name, and the ones here were the ones that had stayed.
I found them aged, expectantly sitting in parks, or gathering daily in all the taverns across town, coming to drink close to each other, but drowned in their own solitude. Pushing away the hour to go home. But I found them also young, expansive, festive, but hopelessly resigned, eternal students, as long as they could be, whose shattered prospects had made into educated hedonists.
And then, in a candle lit, not so former whorehouse, I found the Fado. And they were all there. Behind the same solitary glass, poets of laborers hands and women of lost beauty took sacramental turns to sing, with untrained voices, stories they all knew of this unescapable submission to fate. No one else spoke, the glasses were refilled.
I understood that the ubiquitous longing felt in this town wasn’t only for the lost but also for the never attained, but rather than a self-consuming lament, it was a celebration of that implacable beauty of life.