Friday, September 30, 2005

In Rethymno 

Octogenarian in traditional Cretan [note: not "Cretin"] garb makes his way down main street. Reach for camera, take photo, prepare for second as he advances. "One euro", he commands in English. Camera falters, next time, I intone, in Greek, walk on.

"Ah sto diaolo". He walks on. I laugh down the street. Go to hell. Said with a grin.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

People place 

There is magic to be had there yet, amongst breeze of sun-roasted fig and sun-dried wild thyme and night-filtered jasmine and resin-redolent pine and seasalt and wet sand, and open arms and wide hearts and shared memories, days playing and swimming and bare feet and Solarcained skin and tent-enclosed siestas and endless evenings visiting each others' homes and yards and tavernas and wandering the pirate-proof cobble streets or wind-swept sandy beach.

Nineteen years since my last summer there. We were kids, they were not-grey, Pension Galini was the only hotel for miles, the sand dunes and roads not covered by cement and summer homes, there was no beach bar, no deck chairs.

There's still only one bus and one driver, three taxis, one school, one disco, one bookshop, less than three thousand residents, one pirate-proofed Horio ("Village"- the village/capital), two-shopped Magazia ("Shops"- the shops), still wave-ravaged Molos ("Pier"- the pier). People and places don't change that much, after all. Twenty-five hundred years since the island was populated, eight centuries since the hill was fortressed with houses carved into the rock invisible by sea, one generation since the locals didn't have to migrate to the mainland for school post-elementary, two decades since my last summer there- people and places don't change that much, after all.

They picked me up from the port, with teary squacks and squeezes, these people who have so little yet share so much, you look just like your mother you haven't changed we rememeber. So many years of Chios and my dad's side and our family, with the people here stowed away in the corner that houses the few memories I have of my mom, those years, that time. The lock of the door to my little house, not more than a shack with a fireplace that can make a great altar someday, opened effortlessly, the door to that space took a few kicks and opened for me. We remember.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Fighting technophobia 

Can barely believe it, but there ya go. In reverse chronological order, Chios pics.


More, soon coming.

Family matters 

Week two in Athens. For the first time in the eleven years since I’ve been living Away (two years of college in London before NYC), planning on seeing friends beyond the bare minimum. Reassuring people stressing to see me: I'm around for a while yet. But not indefinitely- also reassuring my stepmom, who's sharing a megadose of pre-menopausal angst, that I am only stepping-stoning in Athens and headed out soon, first to islands then back home.

Aunt Maro, who basically raised my dad and is also my godmother and surrogate grandmother, asked me a while back: "don't you miss your home?". Naah, the immediate response, I've only been gone a few weeks. She was referring to my gorgeous spacious sunlit Athens-place.

Right now, for now, there's no more struggle or dilemma; NY is home and for as long as I continue to live happy and fulfilled there, will remain such. However, I will no longer allow for two or three years to lapse between trips to Greece. My dad almost died a year and a half ago. Colon cancer almost took him. They told me nothing until way after the operation, the chemo, the slow recovery. While no doubt ticking, the timebomb is quiet, now. I'd have a lot of trouble if I were to lose him before I got to know him and connect with him and, maybe, help him a little. Lost my mom too early to allow that. He lights up when he sees me, sits a little taller, laughs louder. How could I possibly deny him that (and how can she not see that, and appreciate it). It need not be this huge emotional upheaval, this coming here business. But I will be coming here. Experiencing none of the grasping-clinging nostalgia riffs from last year. Or at least, they are very subdued. Much more clear with where I'm at and where I might go.

It's amazing. Family is so threatened by all the guru, yoga stuff. For the most part, all very (Christian Greek Orthodox, as something like 98.5% of Greek population) religious and not-knowing of things other. Trying to keep my morning practice less an arcane ritual, with some open doors and allowances for interruption or even wrapping things up to join in, if need be. One day put out a mat next to mine for a very curious two year old cousin and encouraged him to do downdog. After watching me for a bit, he waddled off, red pencil-pail in hand. Process demystified, rendered uninteresting. There are doubts as to my religiosity. The Ganesha pendant on my chest, a daemon, a devil, a question-mark. Even though I went to church, and crossed myself, even though I pray, sometimes. Why the threat? Why do they take handfulls of grains of salt when I explain that if anything, my practice has brought me closer to god or something-like-that. Love. That stuff that I never really talk about nor spend too much time reflecting on. Keep it simple, try to do least harm and be truthful and kind and love. Is all I can do. No tirades or explaining. I know that with time, as they see me and live me, how and who I am and am becoming will tell them all they need to know. It already does, sometimes, I know it does.

Being here is a little weird, sometimes. The language, although accented, is fluent. The lifestyle, although in the past, familiar. Yet I walk the street of Athens like a tourist, gazing up and around, camera in bag, Naylene water bottle in hand. "What country"? Everyone addresses me in English- sometimes even after I've responded in Greek. So I have fewer qualms sunning myself on a ledge next to a Byzantine church or sitting cross-legged on the floor or taking too many photos or eating too much feta, being me in these small ways I maybe wouldn't, once. Touristria, as I half-joke to friends. Why not. As such, after a weekend jaunt to Yianna's home on Tzia this weekend, will be heading off into the unknown for a bit. First stop will be Skyros, check out whatever's left of my property, retread roads last crossed almost nineteen years ago, visit the Skyros Centre up in the village (http://www.skyros.co.uk/). Then at some point by the 23rd, on to Crete, Greece's largest island with its own Sea, a twelve-hour boatride from Athens. Check it out.

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