A week ago, I was landing in Greece for the first time in real life. In my mind, I had arrived in the city of my roots many times before.
In my mind, it was always a heck of a lot warmer.
Making my way from the airport to the Airbnb was an adventure as - shocker - everything everywhere was written in Greek! Several people on the bus made it their job to make sure I got off at the right place and before I could GPS the address of the place where I would spend the next 12 nights, I found myself walking out of a bakery with a box filled to the rim with the special treats of my childhood.
I was welcome to the Airbnb by an American man named Ranger, who showed me the place. Ranger was visiting for a couple of weeks and within minutes, he and I were sharing the sticky sweet pastries, while he told me a little about how he had been traveling for the last five years.
I was tired from a long day and was noticing that the bathroom barely had a door. I was starting to envision 12 days of no bathroom privacy and my intestines were making small talk about shutting down for a while.
But by then I knew that things rarely are how they seem at first glance. I think that the few tears I shed when leaving Pisciotta put the final touch of this delicious and exciting bit of truth that says: wait. just wait. Allow yourself to lean into this. And allow yourself to be surprised.
A week later, I have baked a pumpkin pie in the kitchen, taken a road trip with Ranger, Maria whose place this is (Maria is incredibly lovely and from Cyprus) and my son who arrived the day after I did. We have had a birthday party, a Christmas feast and much laughing around the small kitchen table. We have sang together, we have laughed, we have traveled by bus, foot and car. In a few short days, we have built a community that is feeding my heart so very much.
For some reason, my intestines no longer care much about the non-door. Which blows my mind a little bit. And reminds me how much we grow from stretching our comfort zone. And how much traveling has a way of doing this.
Also, I am reminded once again of how much I love and need Community.
Then, there is Thessaloniki. Salonique. The city of my ancestors.
I love this city.
Costa and I took a super awesome guided tour and learned more and more about the rich history, the great fire of 1917, the war too. We learned about this city that used to be the largest Jewish city in the world, in a country which is now quite anti semitic. We learned how Jews, Muslims and Christians lived together in harmony for such a long time - until they didn’t anymore. We visited Anapoli, walked thru the Acropolis, sat in a taverna late at night and ate whatever the owner put on our table. We attended a concert, we watched It’s a Wonderful Life with Greek subtitles for free, too.
I feel as though my being is getting more and more layered by the day, and I am taking it all in.
And as if this was not magical enough, tomorrow my sister and my nephew arrive to spend three days with us. My sister being the family’s historian, I had a feeling that it would not take much to get her to leave Florida and come spend a few days here. I was right.
And then, next Sunday, it’s off to Lesvos. Which I hear is no picnic. Which I don’t even think I can get prepared for - so for now I am soaking up all this sweetness and goodness.
Sometimes, that’s the best preparation there is.