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.

Hi Tina
You recently commented on my blog site, and I followed your link here- which is one of my favorite bookmarks, btw! I've been reading your blog for some time, though I doubt I ever posted a comment. So much of your writing seems internal, deep, meant to be enjoyed and left alone. I loved journeying with you in Mysore, and I'm happy that you shared that with me, with so many. Hearing about your travels in Greece reminds me of my time there, several years ago when my sister was married. She lives in Thesaloniki (sp?) with her husband, who grew up there, and their daughter- my niece- Lia. I have very pleasant memories of that place. I hope your re-integration into normal life, or at least post-mysore life, goes well, and similarly for your return to NYC.

all the best
Hi Bit by Bit,

I think you may remember me, we met at Richard's retreat at Inner Harmony. We performed in the talent show. I played a tiny guitar while you recited poetry. I know where you got "bit-by-bit" and breath by breath, Sri Richard, no? I have enjoyed reading some of your stuff, thanks for sharing your muse.
Hi Cameron and thanks for your kindness- really glad you enjoyed coming along for these rides. Although god help me, I hardly consider anything I put out there to be "deep"!! Greece is a very good place to visit, and although I've never been to Thessaloniki I've heard wonderful things about the country's so-called second capital. "keep in touch"- Tina
Hello, ukulele [sp?] doc! I do indeed remember you from then, and have the pics to prove it! That was one helluvan interesting week for me- I quit smoking taht week and have not looked back too much since. Let it be known I read TS Elliot's "the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" at said "talent" show. In its entirety. Folks stayed awake. Some cried. Aah, the sensitive newage-y crowd... Interested to see you might be embarking on some online talking of your own- curious to see what direction that'll take. You correctly identified and attributed bit by bit to Richard-ji, however breath by breath is surely not necessarily Richardspeak? Slowly slowly, my friend.
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