Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Lights out 

My apartment is in one of the loveliest neighborhoods in one of the nicest cities with some of the coolest people in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. From my balcony, solemn Lycabettus Hill and bright Acropolis beckon with memories of yesterday and promises for tomorrow as the sun sets over the Saronic gulf or rises from behind the woods of Kaisariani. The hum of the fountains on Truman Square white-out the noise of cars and bikes passing on the avenue bellow while just outside my building lies a quaint and quiet old-fashioned area, replete with small shops and cafe-filled square, minutes' walk from just about anywhere central you might want to go. We watched and cheered on the Marathon runners on Sunday from our balcony as they completed the 42nd kilometer, making their way to the marble stadium two blocks down the avenue. After the closing ceremony, enjoyed with wine and laughs, we went walking in Plaka, part of the historic older district that embraces the foot of Acropolis hill. The melting pot had already started to be taken apart, with the masses that flooded Athens' nights just days before embarking on new travels as people start to head back to their countries and cities and lives.

She looked great, our Athens did. Then, I always dug her anyway, with her traffic and unimaginable pollution and loud brash nature, she was in-your-face but honest, short-tempered but incredibly generous. This summer, she was much the same. Except decked out in her Sunday best, with a bright blue sash over crisp whites covering her sun-browned skin as the salt-tinged Aegean air ruffled her hair and shiny patent leather shoes pinched her feet. She looked pretty and impressive and people responded in the best way to the best she had to offer. But under the clean scrubbed face and new outfit, it was still her, with the old defiance and pride and character that make her uniquely and unapologetically her. And that's what will remain, as she makes use of the same outfit for Monday and Tuesday and for the rest of the week and month as ribbons fray and shoes scuff and blues fade; until she can afford to make another outfit she will have to make use of what little is left over from partyday. To derive the most from the very least has always been a gift of this tough people, anyway.

I will still love and relish her and them and everything they represent to me when she is less bright and the blues are more grey than sky and the skin more wan than tan, as I prepare to leave again, returning to my life in the land of plenty. She will still be here and there with me as I learn from her and keep what I can from her in me until I can return to the warm sun of her embrace. Again.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Goodbye gal 

I never cry like I do when it's time to leave the island. We moved to Athens from Manhattan when I was three; with a two-year break for college in London, Greece was my home up until 1996. Moved back to New York armed with two cartons of cigarettes and $50, and from day one the City felt like coming home on so many levels. And I have been gloriously, resolutely content there for the last eight years. Two holidays in Greece in the summers of '00 and '01 were magnificent and emotional but it always felt right to be coming back to my little studio in the ancient brownstone on the Upper West Side, where kids play and flowers bloom and neighbors say hello and birds sing and the setting sun is reflected on the Hudson River as it sinks behind the flat lands in Jersey.

Just when I thought I’d successfully convinced myself that amidst the whirlwind of life’s changes, things on the island remain fundamentally the same, that I can leave secure in the knowledge that the place and people are going nowhere. Bumped into old crush from NY who just as I left for India left for Chios, moving back after sixteen years in the City on the plane from Athens in July. He seemed to have made the move ok, content with his decision and his life, relieved to be back with his family, challenged to start afresh. As I plan to do someday. Don’t see him for the entire month there- except for a chance encounter hours before my plane takes off on my last day. Saying hellogoodbye is rife with emotion since he is my example of someone who’s transitioned well, as I someday hope to do. Back to my other home. Parting triggers a waterfall of sobs, that abate only to drown me as I listen to Sigur Ross, watching the landscape leading to my favorite beach outside my window for the last time, for now.

Some day I want to no longer be leaving.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Hair down 

Managing practice as late as one or two pm while cooking smells emanate from the kitchen, eight-year old blasts cartoons, four-month old sleeps on couch near me. Dancing on ledge at outdoor club with friends to bone-crunching thumping music amidst flashing white lights until well past five in the morning. Flying down late afternoon sun-softened hills on massive black motorcycle behind giant man soaking up my spectacular island of glistening silver olive and magnificent towering cypress, wind tangling my hair and twists and turns making me drunk.

In my last week on Chios, as friends depart and evenings cool, no longer angry that this is not India and neither my self, body or practice can possibly be as in India. New friendships emerge as old chapters close and others are opened, if only for a night. Happy to have been here while I was and drawn from lessons and experiences and images to fuel and inspire during dark winters and lonely nights.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Hios haiku 

How do my friends know
To always get in touch when
Heart's full of empty

An old flame is being extinguished, while this week marks 17 years since my mom passed on. Bound to evoke a few sad moments gazing out over vast seas and deep blues. But my eyes smile through the shine of tears.

In other news, the day after the opening ceremony finds us Greeks proudly stunned that we pulled it off- so far, so good. Was quietly underwhelmed at the spectacle. Eager to find out how the international community/media saw those three hours.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Last night 

Dreamt we shared an embrace that lasted and lasted and we fit so well together and all our heart and hurts, hardened candles many years in the making and breaking, melted and melded into one shape, one form. Last night you kissed me twice. Once on each cheek as I turned my head and we said goodnight in dawn's sweet light. To curl up and rest in the brilliance of your shadow, if only for a bit. Na mou peis mia mera oti eimai i neraitha tis avyis sou.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Some snapshots 

From the Only In Greece files: Midday, beachside hotel pool. Middle-aged Skandinavian dude in the shallow end with oxygen tank strapped to his back. Instruction and encouragement shouted from very heavyset Greek guy in Speedos under a black tshirt. In between hungry puffs off his cigarette.

People here seem to be really into the slogan-tshirt. Young guy at bar; front: "Men like well-maintained bush", in caps. Not sure if the back made some reference to the American president. Likely not. Young girl in tight outfit and heels: "sexy sexy sexy". Also in caps. Not too obvious- maybe paired with the bag bearing the same, also spotted? Not-attractive young guy with mullllet: "Sex games", with stick figures approximating various sexual positions. No beating around the bush metaphorical or otherwise.

Last night, stayed at the beach until well after twilight, played catch-up with an early love, dove into dark waters of iridescent purplegreen silver surface.

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