That decision—to avoid the inconvenience of the night train—was the cause of this whole traveling debacle and the new information pushes my buttons all over again. I have absolutely no control over the situation. Whatever sense of balance I had when I arrived is gone. Nonetheless, I buy a ticket for Lisbon to start all over again.
To get to the train tracks I descend a series of stairs, cross the width of several tracks, then climb another set of stairs to wait for the train. In my haste and confusion I end up waiting at the track for chegada, or arrivals, rather than the track for partida, or departure.
Very few people are waiting on the platform, but I don’t realize until too late that I am not where I belong. The train I’m waiting for is now leaving from the other side of the tracks. Down and up a staircase away. Standing alone on the platform, I watch it leave the station as the sun approaches the horizon.
I earnestly tried to make something happen by reading the guidebooks and talking to officials who spoke my language. I took responsibility for my actions but it was beyond my control. During the whole process I moved through the myriad tracks of emotions, from anger into frustration and more anger into compliance, to get where I am—watching the last train of the day chug away.
The only thing left to do is surrender—to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can, and...to let it go.
I return to the lobby, book a ticket for the next day, find accommodations, and move on to explore a city filled with hills, history and gigantic barrels of port.
—Shiana Seitz, from her memoir First You Let It Go
—Photos by Shiana Seitz and Carolyn V. Hamilton