Today I miss Lisbon. Portugal’s capital popped up in conversation several times in the last few days. Earlier this afternoon, I was having lunch with two colleagues who have never been to Portugal. So I started explaining my love affair with Lisbon, describing it as my impossible love. It remains so, even though I haven’t been back since 2008.
That got me thinking about a theory I’ve had for some time now, about cities as lovers. Just like with people, we either click with a city or we don’t. Of course we can work at it, try to improve our relationship and find some common ground. But if the bond isn’t there, the relationship remains superficial, fraught with problems and ultimately it doesn’t work. So, for me, each city I visit becomes a love affair of sorts. Here is my personal vision of a handful of cities as lovers.
Lisbon is the kind of lover who gets deep under your skin but in your gut you just know it will not last. So you leave this lover who wasn’t meant to be yet you’re forever feeling the saudade – the yearning for something that is lost or impossible to reach.
Berlin is the clandestine love affair that happens in tucked-away bars, at odd hours, behind closed doors. It’s somewhat dark, decadent and depressing yet compels you to stay and play more, even though you know it won’t lead to a solid long-term relationship.
Buenos Aires is that passionate lover who dominates your body and soul entirely, beyond any reason. You lose control of your senses and all you want to do is spend time in your lover’s company, letting all else slip away, regardless of whether it’s good for you.
Rio de Janeiro: a hot, sexy lover who shows you the time of your life, makes you feel as if you’re the most beautiful woman in the world, takes you out dancing, strolling along the beach… Yet you know it’s just a travel romance and the moment you get home, it will feel like just another fantasy.
London happens to be your husband and life partner. Yet there’s a secret lover in the picture, whom you see on a regular basis, without too much emotion, but who fills that need for a little extra spice and adventure in your life.
As for New York, my home base, I could write a book about our love affair. Instead, for now, I’d love to hear about your relationship with New York. If New York were a lover, what kind of lover would it be?