In Defense of Staying Put


I am on my last week of a three-week stay in Estoril, Portugal, a little seaside neighborhood north of Lisbon. People have been asking me what I am doing here, what have I seen. And my honest answer is “not much.” This trip wasn’t about cramming in the sights of Portugal (though there is a nagging piece of me that wants to explore more of this very cool country–next time); rather, it was about practicing staying put in one place. It was about sleeping in a few mornings, about many days where we did nothing more than hang out at a pool or the beach, about going to LIDL ever other day for groceries, about walking to the Saturday mercado to buy barnacles. It was about running the same coastal route every day and seeing different things there. I am leaving this trip expericing a feeling I’ve never had after a vacation: I feel rested and excited to get back to work.

We have such a pressure in our day to day to accomplish things, to be productive. And that pressure often translates to our vacations. What good was it going all the way to X if you didn’t check off the top 25 things to do in X while you were there? I’ve spent most of this trip in my friends’ kitchen and on their patio. We’ve talked, cooked, laughed, put away groceries, yelled at kids, cleaned up messes, did laundry, washed dishes, drank wine, all the day to day that I never have time for in my “real” life. It’s an interesting moment to realize that I’ve traveled across an ocean and a continent to have the space to gracefully do the domestic life maintenance stuff that I resent and half-ass at home. My vacation in Portugal is eating, housework, and long runs. And it feels good to have that space.

I’m finally getting a bit antsy, planning a couple of things to see before we leave, but I don’t regret the last two weeks of staying put. I needed those first two weeks to just surface from the rush, the tyranny of productivity. To make my mind feel like it could be present in my body.


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