Thursday, April 15, 2010

100 Day Challenge

It's simple, really. In an effort to get back on the metaphorical horse, my goal is to blog, as stated, without too much thought or reflection (and consideration for what a happenstance reader might think of it) for 100 days straight. Starting today.

The fates have a terrific job. They have all the fun. In a year they have rolled me down their piece of thread, bouncing in and out of the dark and the light. When I checked out of the Acropolis House, they giggled, picked up a place further down my cord, and reeled me back into the very same plot of land in Athens. The very same! Only this time in an office with a desk by the window overlooking Ipitou street with a skinny, black, tail-wagging, leg-hiking dog trotting back and forth each hour. Gurgling, coughing motorcycles roar down the otherwise quiet street of Voulis. Men sit on the corner playing Tavli, sipping ouzo until dark.

They smiled knowingly as I shied away from the people I had come to know, wary of too much attention or curiosity. They're laughing, now, as I walk into the same coffee shop each day and am greeted by the same row of people who were sitting there a year ago, shortly before I disappeared from the area and never bothered to stop in and say hello once in a while, a crime punishable by steady streams of hurtful gossip and a good dose of the cold-shoulder treatment here in Greece.

I'm thankful they were compassionate enough to return me to this place a different person. Before, I was wandering and clueless. Now, I am still wandering and clueless, but at least I know it. And I have an office. Status is everything around here.

They had some good fun yesterday with two groups of unsuspecting cruise ship passengers who had nothing in common but the boat they arrived on and that they had each, separately, hired a private taxi tour of Athens for their shore trip. Who knows when the "ladies" decided to shake that thread and tie it to a taxi strike and a relentless taxi mafia governing the participants. Every taxi driver with booked customers, terrified of losing business, waited until the last minute to announce to their clients they would be picked up and grouped together to fit into a black Mercedes minibus.

So yesterday, the G's and the H's, who in other circumstances might never have met, shared their experience in Athens together with George and I leading the way.

I would like to know how differently the city was perceived between the eight sets of eyes, four sets being under the age of 13. The G's were all crisp, sharp, attentive, gleaming like a new set of pencils and eager to record everything they saw. The H's were mismatched, sprawling, and distant, rows of second-hand televisions all tuned to separate channels.

They all enjoyed their day. They stood on top of the sacred rock of the Acropolis, rode the Sunshine Express through the flea market, ate Ariston Tiropita out of paper bags standing with their backs against the wall of the building, chased away fearless, corpulent pigeons with their shoes (save one little girl who was rebelliously feeding them crumbs of her potato pie.) Even if they weren't exactly exchanging addresses by the end of the day, I admire that American people are still mostly tolerant and flexible, willing to adapt to the circumstances.

When I left them with George, waved goodbye on the steps of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, I meandered back down Voulis and into Deseo to find Panos in a loud debate with part-owner, Leanna and a few other customers. The subject: Adam and Eve. I sidled up on a bar stool and set my backpack down, picking up what Greek words I knew, just like a year ago, only now I know a few more words, a few more things...namely to be humble and for god's sake, remember who is really in charge. We know it's not me. We know it's not you.

Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,
τον άγριο Ποσειδώνα δεν θα συναντήσεις,
αν δεν τους κουβανείς μες στην ψυχή σου,
αν η ψυχή σου δεν τους στήνει εμπρός σου.

The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter,
if you do not carry them within your soul,
if your soul does not set them up before you.