Do, you like me, tire of the same-old, same-old? Occasionally desire the other, greener grass?
It’s a common enough malaise, regardless of the greenness of the grass in which we find ourselves. A friend currently living in Hawaii but having spent most of her life abroad expressed the dullness of her every day there this way: “I only speak English: all-day, every day.”
Which I thought was a ridiculous thing for a native-English speaker living in the most exotic of the united states to say.
But then I thought about it a little bit and reminded myself of those times in my life I have not spoken English all day, every day. When every interaction from ordering coffee to crossing the street, was infused with challenge and revelation.
That grass was tres vert.
Here in Salem most of my everyday interactions are not infused with challenge and revelation. I order the same coffee from the same places, so much so that I no longer even really have to order it. They just make it and I pay for it.
That sort of interaction can be comforting, though not particularly inspiring.
To counter the mundane, therefore, I’ve had to develop the ability to see beyond the known, and to respond to the unknown: Pourquois pas?
“Would I like to go to see an internationally known Fado singer at the local Portuguese social club?”
A five-minute drive from my normal Salem stomping grounds is the Club Luis de Camões. A nondescript beige brick facade sits on a side street I would never know existed. There’s a neighborhood vineyard across the street. Inside is an immense beige hall set for hundreds to dine round round linen clad tables.
The price of admission is $35 for kale stew, Portuguese bacalau (salt cod, onions potatoes), braised broccoli rabe, and a dessert (which I honestly don’t remember). It’s all served family style and remarkably tasty. Despite our inability to vanquish the heaping patters, we’re continually offered more.
Also included in that $35 is the night’s entertainment. On tour from Lisbon, Ricardo Ribeiro & Pedro Jóia perform a night of fado.
One of Portugal’s great exports, fado is a remarkably dramatic and moving musical genre, animated, mostly by a sense of longing, of “saudade.” Our musicians were introduced in Portuguese. . . we understood what we needed to. . . and began to sing, transforming our new world air into something much saltier, darker and richer.
Chatterers were shushed, one drunk suited man standing in the back engaged in a call and response. We looked on in awe, longing for green grass like this, forever after.