Fucking upward mobility and the desire to do well for your children. That was the original motivation for my family’s move to the US. It was to be a 5-year period, which expired just over 29 years ago. I sometimes get asked the unknowable of how I think my life might have been different had we stayed, or if we had fulfilled that 5 year promise. Well, we didn’t, and since this is reality and not a novel or a movie, the main character is not free to explore alternate realities where those answers exist. I do know that in this reality, moments like the ones in the first couple of pictures occur too infrequently. I hate missing people who are sitting next to me, because I know that in a few hours, or a couple of days, I will be headed back to every day life, without them. I am in the moment, and I love the life I have. These altogether-too-brief interludes visiting with the family we left behind, or the family that left us behind, represent a truly inconvenient truth that each day that I am away from here, or there, is an exercise in denial. Not the simply kind where you ignore the existence of an issue, but the other one, where you ignore the fact that some of the people you love most have, been born, have grown up, have had entire lives, and even died without so much as a shared greeting, or meal, or laugh. The one where for just a second you forget that a relative has died because it has been decades since you saw them with any regularity.
It sounds bad, but it really was another near-perfect day. Yet, with the buzz that passes for late night tranquility here settling into its almost predictable pattern of loud revelrers, passing mopeds, barking dogs and lapping waves, I can only wish for that most elusive commodity of all: time. Even when people who say that health is the most important thing, what they are really are hoping or wishing for is time.
Four and a half days left to do what? Spend as little time as possible sleeping, in some pathetic attempt to squeeze one more cigarette-filled conversation over coffee? How about one more meal with the family, or another fig, that unlike so much of the nostalgically-tainted things and people we return for, do not fail to rise to their billing?
My whole time here, I have been trying to figure out which parts of my love for Greece are personal, and which are universal, and thus transferable. I have found it difficult to decide, because so much of who I am, and what I love, was forged here.
I mean things like loving Puerto Rico. How much of that is because lechon reminds me of gourounopoula, or because watching families fill the beaches of San Juan feels so much like the place that I first, and frequent still, called “home.”.
Leaving it changed me forever, in many ways, one being that while I can very easily make myself feel at home, I rarely feel settled anywhere, and I am not sure if it is a good or bad thing. The wanderlust that propels me to seek out so much, in new cities and back streets of familiar ones, is not unique. Anyone who has moved can talk about their memories, about what they miss about the place they left behind. It frequently leads to food, and one of the ways I have adjusted to any new “home,” whether permanent or for the night is to find a Greek restaurant, just to let the stereotypical conversation of what of part of Greece did you come from/how long have been away/why to here act as a flavoring agent for food that however good, has always been an understudy to the real thing.
I have but a couple more nights in the little studio that is currently home, since it is after 4AM, again, and since I can’t seem to find Jenn on Skype, my battery is almost dead…