I am glad that I live in Lisbon. I was also born here.
I need the air, after a day spent in an office chair, rolling from desk to desk in an open-plan office lit only by a narrow well of light. This city picks and scratches at itself like an animal kept in too small a cage, pining for its lost reflection. It obsesses over its own archaeology. In the shade of parking garages and electricity substations, stubs of classical brickwork, lacquered with a weatherproof resin, poke up through gravel beds and well-tended lawns. New buildings clad apologetically in glass contort themselves around the city’s ancient leavings. They hollow themselves out where they can; they arc above, they grope beneath. At its centre the city has begun to resemble the root system of a neglected houseplant. Lisbon has packed itself around itself to the point where its surface has eroded away entirely. Inside its tangle of windowless malls and pedestrian bridges, its banks of stairs and escalators, its short-haul lifts and cantilevered walkaways, no one thinks about “ground level”, or even expects the numbers on the lifts to match up. There is something exhilarating about this, some atavistic hint of forest canopy. Lisbon.