October 20, 2012
So I accidentally got up at 1:30am this morning instead of 6:30am. And then I didnít realize my mistake until I was on the bus to the airport (Iím going to Santorini, a Greek island for three days). IT WAS SO SURREAL. I actually took a nice long shower, packed up my things, took the metro, and got on a bus, ALL WITHOUT LOOKING AT A CLOCK. I thought it was kind of odd that there were so many people on the street, all dressed up for a night out, but I thought, I donít know, maybe Athens has a very active nightlife. Totally bizarre. The absence of daylight was the thing that, you know, eventually clued me in that I had gotten up FIVE HOURS EARLY.
So I got to the airport at 2:30am for a 10:30am flight. It honestly wasnít that bad ó I found a nice comfy couch in a closed restaurant and went back to ďbed,Ē waking up for coffee and a muffin and more writing in my notebook. There is something really beautiful about the middle of the night, something I donít often get to witness ó a quiet space, out of time, peaceful.
Iím about to get on the plane now. Iíve still got this cold, so Iíve got my fingers crossed that my head doesnít explode on take-off or landing.
Itís hard to imagine a setting more idyllic than this. I am seated on a terrace overlooking the quiet cliffside village of Oia, high above the Aegean Sea. The white houses are built directly onto the cliff face, radiant in the late afternoon sun, the occasional bright blue dome of a small church punctuating the palette. A brilliant green doorway. A vibrant red fence. Labyrinthine stone staircases. I follow this maze up and down and around, slowly so slowly, wanting to remember every step, stopping periodically to perch atop the roof of a house below, tucked into a shaded niche, my back against the cool white plaster.
I am staying in Fira, the islandís largest town, Couch Surfing with a Hungarian woman named Renata. When I arrived, she welcomed me into her little apartment with a big bowl of soup, perfect fare for this stupid head cold. Renata works in a gallery during the seven-month high season, and so she heads back to Athens in a few days. Even though her life is up in the air and sheís busy packing, she was still generous enough to offer me a place to stay. Couch Surfing rocks.
After lunch, Renata walked me into town and showed me around before leaving me to my own devices. Fira is where the cruise ships dock, and so it wasnít long before I found myself surrounded by tourists and by generic shops selling generic island souvenirs. Jostled one too many times by an oblivious tourist, I started to get a bit irritable, compounded by the fact that I had just discovered that I am plumb out of money. (Don't worry, Mom, I still have a little bit of cash and a credit card.) Anyway, I started to stress about making it through the next couple of months, and grumbling to myself about the trials and tribulations of freelancing. The fact that I have a cold and got a grand total of 2.5 hours of sleep last night also wasnít helping matters.
I thought maybe a change of scene would be a good idea, so I walked out of Fira, found a local bus stop, and caught a ride up to Oia. In the end, this turned out to be a very good decision. I am still tired, and my head is still stuffy, and Iím still completely out of money, but this village inspires such a sense of quiet stillness that it is impossible to not breathe deeper and feel the warm sun on my shoulders and watch the breeze create bowing lines across the still sea.
It will be OK. Money always seems to come to me when I need it. Not a lot, but enough to get by. And itís pointless to waste time worrying, especially in a place like this. I am excited to get back to Portland, but I want to make the most of my last few days abroad. Fortunately, this tiny village makes quiet reverie almost inevitable. I will wander through sunset, and then will catch a bus back to an early sleep.