Sitting, waiting for the time to come to head to Kalamata, where my mom, Fanis’ family and the uncles, aunts, and cousins await. My days of peace and quiet behind me, I am about to be immersed in family. Ten days of going back to a place that holds so many memories.

When my sister Rebecca was born, I went to live with my maternal grandparents for a year, so my mom could deal with just two school-age kids and a baby. My grandparents did not have a TV or a phone, or toys for me. I have a feeling that the imagination that has served me so well in life was born, or blossomed, because I was five-year-old kid living with two senior citizen farmers.

I can trace so many things that I still love back to those days. News and plays on the radio, much like the NPR shows that accompany my Saturday morning errands. Having the beach to myself on a gray winter day. Hell, t was the only time I had a dog as a kid. (‘Ouzo’ the dog didn’t last with us too long to count).

But most of all, I remember my grandparents, talking to me as if I was an adult. My grandmother taking me to the market in town, with the smell of roasting coffee still bringing me back there regardless of the years or distance between my today and that yesterday. Or to church, where Bible readings cum parables kept a fidgety kid in his seat. With a little help from Yiayia’s hand. (She definitely got the “Spare the rod, spoil the child” lesson down.) Or the family history I wish I could remember. Things about my mom and her siblings when they were little. Memories of occupiers in World War II, most malevolent, some Italians being the exception. Two people who named the child born to them on Christmas 1941, Eirini, which means peace, perhaps two Greek farmers’ way of expressing what they hoped would soon come.

So later today, when I make the walk that used to see so long to my 5-year-old self, I will pause and look at what remains of their humble little home, and wonder what it would be like to spend another evening listening to stories on the radio, and stories from them. What they would think of the man that became of that little boy with the crazy hair.

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