On arrival, and truth be told, except for Jutta and Christel, who have been in touch since Lux, and regularly visiting each other, none of us knew one another. All we’ve got were 25 year old memories of ourselves. No idea who any of us would have become. The Whatsapp group was a good call, we’d be able to feel each other a bit, by the way we respond or not respond to text messages.     

Memories, they say, are not 100% true.

In fact, 50% of our memories are made up, a study says, quite harshly. I wouldn’t go as far as to say: they are not true, even though, in hindsight, there are no facts to prove it happened the way we feel it did.

However, they are emotionally true.

How we perceive events, if not processed, is by the emotion they generate. And it is the emotion that sticks to our mind and body, hence, its power, not the facts and data. So the memories we have, and how they affect our present lives, in decision-taking, initiative, behavior, relationships, etc., are more emotional than factual.

Nonetheless, what matters is our we perceived things.

As it is the only way to guide us within and get to know what’s behind it.

In any case, the memories were good and that’s all I had. I remember feelings, acts of kindness, and lines of conversations much more than an actual specific night out. Fortunately, also kept stuff I had written during my stay there, which helps to trigger the memory. And the more you pull the strings of memory, the more the thread unfolds.

The first arrival was Christel

And what a delight to see her. Conversation flew easily and deeply as if we’ve been friends all this time. No holding back. A great surprise, even if she had already surprised me while we were in Lux.

And that I will remember.

Then, Jutta arrived. No awkward silences, catching up on Jutta’s last news, great to see her again, when we hear that Mila would not be able to make it, as she fell very sick to the point of not being able to move. Even though she made it to the railway station. Brave girl.

Terrible blow, we were all very eager to see her and catch up.

They were staying at Rua da Vitória 88, right outside the Metro station gate, and I managed to walk for 10 minutes around the neighborhood to realise it. Christel, one of the few girls I know who can read maps, got there straight away. So, very central. The plan for the day was: Lunch at Praça do Comércio, Arco; elevador de Santa Justa (Rua do Ouro; Rua Augusta); Chiado; Bairro Alto; Misericórdia; Carmo, São Pedro de Alcântara, Príncipe Real, dinner at Pica Pau and Pavilhão Chinês, for a nightcap.

We managed to make almost all of it. Except that we had lunch at the most charming hotel, chosen by Mila. Made it to the Arco on Sunday, no big deal, my favourite place with a view is São Pedro de Alcântara, which we saw during the night, only. Santa Justa only from the outside, Rua Augusta every day, Bairro Alto from the garden, Príncipe Real and Pavilhão Chinês. We met Eva in Chiado, had a drink at Jardim de S. Pedro de Alcântara, to run away from the rain, and tried to have dinner at Pica-Pau, but ended up at the Pizza place just across the street.

Great conversations and important decisions. A small step to Humanity, a big step to me.

Mila, sick as she was, had generously suggested that someone should take her room, as it was already paid. Christel immediately suggested that I should take it. I gladly accepted the offer. Made my life easier and, most importantly of all, her generosity touched my heart deeply. Even saying she was sorry for not coming, devastated as she was. And very, very sick, even had the kind heart to notify the hotel, giving out all our names, so that one of us could take the room.

Generosity comes in so many different ways

This whole weekend was just the sign of it, the whole time. When it is different than yours, you take it as if you were not generous at all. Also, it is one of those things that really moves this old Portuguese emotional heart. Thought and talked all time about her, made sure she felt better and not to worry about a thing, albeit feeling exactly the same, very much looking forward to talk and to know what has she been up to for the past 25 years.

We’ll do that next year, in The Hague.

25 years have passed, I feel a huge gap between my 25 year old self and my 51 year old one, life matures you, whether you like it or not. We were all different, but connected anyway, making new memories, as Christel so well put it.

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