Our time here in Greece is about half over, and although we still have more than 2 blissful months left, the end is in sight and slowly infiltrating my subconscious. Milestone: first anxiety dream about returning to “real life” last night! Yikes. A little too early.
Thinking back on the past 2 months, I’ve been making mental lists of what I’ve “accomplished” since arriving, worried that this time is being squandered: places visited, books read, short stories edited, a start on the messy first draft of a book. But when I think like that, I ignore all the in between moments, and it’s the in between stuff that makes up the bulk of a life.
Like, the days where we wake up and then walk and walk and walk around Athens. We usually walk straight downtown and don’t bother with the bus. We cut through the park and skinny side streets. We’ve taken to heading down to Exarchia as a starting point. There’s a place in the square where you can buy cheap gyros, and we’ll sit outside and eat and watch students play ping pong. Yes, there’s actually a communal ping pong table in Plateia Exarchia, which is hilarious and wonderful.
We’ve been visiting the museums too, one at a time, slowly doling them out. On Tuesday we went to the National Archaeological Museum. I wandered around and wrote down the names of things I liked: death masks for corpses made out of the thinnest gold leaf, beautiful diadems, little pins made out of obsidian and bone. The Cycladic sculptures of women with big noses, no eyes, their arms folded over their stomachs. No one really knows what they are, and they’re always displayed standing up, but maybe they really should be reclining. Their feet point down, anyway. The Kouri statues of the naked men with curly hair, smiling.
Or the evenings where we make dinner. Sometimes the best dinners are the easiest ones. Cut up an eggplant, sprinkle with salt, coat in olive oil and roast in the oven until the cubes are brownish and soft. Then heat up more oil in a pan, add some chopped red onions and garlic (Garlic scapes are even better if you have them, the spindly green parts that shoot up from garlic bulbs. We found garlic growing in big plumes by the sea. I snapped the scapes, shoved them in my purse and they lasted for a long time in the fridge.) Dump in the eggplant and add some chopped tomatoes and then simmer for awhile until everything is soft. If you have some zucchini, add that too. Eat it with pasta.
So I know that there’s no way that my time here is being wasted or taken for granted, but every so often I have to remind myself anyway. But I think what I’ll concentrate on more over the next few months is the in-between, and cross my fingers that I can quell the worry in my subconscious.
(Pictured in this post: Andrew on a mountain in the Peloponnese; swimming off a rock in Agistri; a shrine to the Lady Madonna in Rome; at a cliffside monestery in Meteora,; a market haul. All in-between moments, and good ones.)