Somehow, my 6-month mark of living in Greece has crept up without me even noticing it. Whether it’s the current situation we’re all living in or the fact that I’ve been quarantined for the past 38 days, I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps, I’m simply becoming so used to living here that it’s gone unnoticed. To say that these past three months have been equally as uneventful as they have been exciting and anxiety-inducing, goes without saying that the world is in a very strange place right now. A brief reflection on six months in Greece.
THE NEXT CHAPTER
Like most love stories, the magic that comes with the novelty of something new has an expiration date. It tends to wear off with time as you get to know one another. You don’t fall out of love per se, but rather you become better-acquainted, comfortable with one another. There’s something special about that, too. I was entering the next phase of my “relationship” with Greece, one of comfort and slight familiarity. Still erring on the side of caution.
Winter months in Greece are balmy and wet with the occasional snow-covered mountain tops which I can see from my window. My usual mood of curiosity and exploration took a hiatus during these cold months and I spent them nestled up at home, fireside, drinking vino and embracing the still moments. I wanted to give myself that. The luxury of normalcy. I knew my schedule would start to ramp up as the warmer months approached. Travel plans had already crept onto my schedule and for just a little bit, I wanted to see what it felt like to really live here. Quiet moments at home and all.
A REFLECTION ON SIX MONTHS IN GREECE
The holidays came and went – Christmas was spent with my dad. Home-cooked meals, roasted chestnuts and plenty of movies. I rang in the new year atop Lykavittos Hill, with Palmer, where we watched the fireworks over the Acropolis before retreating back to our warm apartment. Not once did I feel lonely, despite being alone. And so the days have become a bit longer, sunshine has made it’s way back into our daily routine. I fell back into a rhythmic dance with this city that one can only have when living here; morning hikes in what essentially feels like my backyard, dinner dates with friends and special someones, weekend drives to the village for a refill of fresh olive oil and citrus.
I started to recognize faces in the neighborhood; Orestis who owns the local μανάβη (fruit/vegetable stand) and the amazing staff at Nora’s Deli who likewise have been a godsend in times of quarantine. Manoli, an elderly man, sits on the same park bench every morning with his dog Susie. She’s always clad in a pink outfit of sorts and has bows in her hair. He occasionally draws me directions in the dirt, with a stick, on where the best wildflowers can be picked on my walk. I always come back with an assortment for the house. I also landed several travel articles that felt like small victories – I celebrated privately as I patiently wait for them to be published. Progress was being made, albeit slowly.
THE START OF THE PANDEMIC
A last-minute trip to Rome was booked for the end of February, followed by ten days hopping from country to country amidst the beginning of the global pandemic. Several delays, cancelled flights and trains, stranded in various cities – I finally decided to cut the trip short and return back to Athens. A few days after my return I came down with a quick and fierce case of bronchitis. Hesitant to experience my first Greek hospital, I took the approach of a responsible citizen, having seen my dad just a few days earlier, and was tested for covid. Twice. After what felt like a lifetime of waiting, really only a week, I took a huge sigh of relief as my test results were confirmed negative.
This all felt like a test. How bad did I really want to be in Athens? Not just when the sun was out or when at the sea, but also during difficult times like these. I can happily confirm that I’m still very much smitten as I was when I first arrived. Not to mention, pleasantly surprised at how well the Greek government and its people came together in a time of emergency. I’m not sure I would have ever expected to feel safer here than I would back in the states.
A reflection on 6 months and considering all of the factors in play, I’m really quite happy here. The change of scenery and pace has significantly reduced my stress levels. I want less. I’m more in tune with nature. With myself. I feel more connected to the goals I’m chasing than ever before and staying open to ongoing inspiration. Spring is officially here and while I am sad to be missing it bloom across the country; I’m reminded with the smell of toasted orange blossoms wafting through my kitchen window and the afternoons I write, topless from my balcony while listening to the birds and classical music.
There is no doubt we have a long and difficult road ahead of us, but it’s so important, critical even, to stay positive and optimistic for what’s to come. Because if one thing is certain, we will finally get back to some version of normalcy and the world? Well, she’ll be here waiting for us with arms wide open.
*If you enjoyed a reflection on six months in Greece, read my post on my first three months, here.