What’s Next….Becoming Portuguese? and Getting Back Riding…?

I have now received my last residency permit (I hope), because in 9 months time I can apply for Portuguese Nationality.

I have been asked why I want Nationality?

In truth I don’t actually need it, and it would probably be easier just to keep applying for residency because of the paperwork required to actually become Portuguese.

Someone told me recently that just because I am granted citizenship it doesn’t make me Portuguese. They were right of course, but for me it signifies more than a dual passport or the right to be here as long as I wish. To me it’s more than that.

An important thing which we all crave, even if we deny it, is a feeling of belonging. People find this sense of belonging in all sorts of ways. Some people belong to a church, or belong to a book club. Some are part of a sport or sports team, similar people who share a  similar drive or passion. I feel I belong when I am on the horse, like it’s normal, like it’s where I am meant to be. I feel I belong when I am next to someone who makes me laugh and with whom I love and admire.

And, I feel, and have felt for 6 years, that I belong in Portugal.

I do not know why. I love this country for many reasons. But more than that I love who it allowed me to be. People romanticise moving overseas and I am not going to do that. In the beginning it’s lonely. But then again I know people who are surrounded by the familiar and they are far more lonely than I have ever felt here in Portugal.

The weather here helped a lot in the beginning. It’s hard to be down when you are on a beautiful beach lying in the sun, even if you are there by yourself.

Portugal is becoming more and more popular as a tourist destination and I believe  it’s because of the feeling that you get when you are here. Aside from the food, which is delicious, and the landscape which is unique and diverse, Portugal has a relaxed and welcoming feeling that can’t really be described. It’s a feeling that I needed because my mind runs way too fast. The people that I admire the most are those that have mastered the ability to be in the present moment, a feeling that I have only in the last two years come to truly appreciate or understand.

I am trying to use this now, as I give horse riding another try…I have given up the thought of competing for now, for now I just want to ride, and to enjoy riding not just for being on the horse, but for being with the horse. Horses have been my best friends since before I knew what friendship was, since before I could actually walk or talk. They got me through the worst times in my life, when I wanted the world to dissapear, because when I was out on my horse, it felt like it had. It was just me, and my horse, and nothing else.

I think everyone needs their own thing. Their own escape. I was talking recently with someone about how often that escape is part of who we are, the lighter side of our character, the side that makes life fun…and when you stripaway all the ways we have to let that part of us come out, then often you are just left with someone who resents the person who took that away, and themselves for allowing that to happen.

Portugal gave me the freedom to understand that not everything that happens in life is your fault. Despite knowing this I am still hugely self critical, and often really harsh on myself.  I judge myself on a scale that I would never in a million years expect others to live up to, and for some reason riding is my escape from that also. It’s funny that in a place where you are judged, you feel free from judgement, but I guess that’s just how life is ;). I am sure I would find another way to escape, to feel like I have a thing thats just mine, that I enjoy, and I feel proud doing, but I feel that won’t be until I truly give up the idea of riding …

As for Portuguese nationality?…No I don’t need it… and no it won’t make me Portuguese. I am Australian. I will always be Australian, and I am lucky to come from a nation that allows me dual nationality. But I do have this feeling that I belong here, and that is a hard thing to describe sometimes to people, particularly my family who love Australia so much…I still love Australia, but gaining nationality is just something for myself, something to say… I came here, I stayed here, and this is where I belong.