These are the main characters that enter my story. They were all observed on the Avenida, but most of the ‘facts’ here are invented and/or surmised.
(Observed on Day 1)
An office worker of 25 – we see him in his suit and tie. He works in the Avenida. He’s been in a relationship with his girlfriend Joana for several years (she will know how long exactly, to the day). Joana has mapped out their future, passing through engagement, the wedding, children and beyond, without much consultation with her husband-to-be. Nuno is beginning to get seriously cold feet. He’s an emotional prisoner.
(Observed on Days 2 and 3)
We’ll call him Adriana because that’s what he aspires to. He left home because his transsexualism was incompatible with life in the family space. He’s living on the Avenida, on and around a bench, just about surviving by begging and helping to park cars for tips. He has a dream to emigrate to Brazil, specifically Rio de Janeiro, where he thinks people like him are more welcome. The air fare might as well be a million euros, though – there’s no way he’ll ever be able to raise that kind of money. He’s 30 and he’s an economic prisoner.
(Observed on Days 1 and 5)
Maria is 80 and a widow. She has a daughter, but she lives away and leaves Maria to her own devices. Maria comes to the Avenida café A Baiana for breakfast every day and usually stays until the evening: it’s her second home, and she knows all the regulars, and everyone knows her. She meets other old women there, and they talk about the same things every day, partly because they forget what they talked about yesterday and partly because that’s the comfortable routine they’ve settled into. She’d like to go and visit her grandchildren but feels abandoned, doesn’t have the money to travel and is incapacitated – she walks with great difficulty and uses crutches. She’s a prisoner of her age and physical condition, of her financial situation, and of her state of abandonment.
(Observed on Day 1)
Manuel is a sunny man of 55, retired. He’s a widower. His dog is his faithful companion and shares its owner’s sunny disposition. Manuel lives on the Avenida in a large apartment. He lived in the same apartment with his wife until ten years ago when she died. It’s said that they suffered a tragedy 15 years ago: the death at birth of their only son. But despite these two blows, he’s a cheerful man, at the same time keeping himself to himself. People find his positive demeanour infectious. Manuel appears to be the archetypal ‘good’ person, and appears not to be a prisoner of anything.
The Avenida da Liberdade
The Avenida attracts these people to it – through work, romance, residence, necessity – and within it they go through their daily routines. But despite its beauty, liveliness and opportunities, it can offer no easy solutions to each one’s private torment.