Thursday, May 20, 2010

Long dark hallways

I feel like I've been living in a dark house banging my head into all of the walls, and finally I've found the hall with the doors. One by one they are opening.
Don't think I'm leaving my job... in Greece it's not unusual to have so many hands in so many jars you look like, well...

So while two hands are keeping well occupied the others found it was time to brush up the old resume.

In other news, the Hong Kong Inquisitors simply adored Nafplio. I think. They were full of complements like, "We see now that Greek food is okay but not as good as Italy's." and "Oh, Nafplio is beautiful! A little like Italy!"

I would like to remind everyone that while Italy was enjoying its heyday, building a grand legacy what with the renaissance and stealing pasta from the Chinese, Greece was overrun by Ottomans and fighting to eat day to day. It would be like comparing... well I think the point is that I hate comparing. Even if it's to show how wrong a comparison it is.

I simply adore Nafplio. Yesterday was perfect. The way the clouds were gray and pilfering over the shimmering sea, the sun blaring out the distinction of the horizon... Nikos and I had the welcomed addition of yet another Despina (it's what happens when all of the babies have to be named after Orthodox saints. You get a lot of Georges, a lot of Marias, a couple of Depsinas..) Despina is a tour guide. The purpose of someone like myself is to show the people how to truly enjoy a place. Sure I know a couple of things and would never hold it in just because I'm not licensened, but I would never compare my antedotal tales and trivia to the sort of in depth, comprehensive overview a guide has been trained to offer. On top of that, if she's a good one, she'll adapt what she knows to what you seem to be interested in. Despina was just such a guide. She sat in that bus and talked her head off, answering their every difficult question with patience and clarity, freeing me to enjoying the shapes of the clouds. One was definitely a Minoan dolphin. I also saw a dragon eating a turtle.

While the clients were exploring the quaint roads of little Nafplio, Athens first capital, Despina and I sat at a cafe looking toward the Bourtzi castle, an island fortress just off the harbor. We talked about the love of the job, that we can never say "no" to work, remembered the days we never wanted to work, about how gratifitying it is when you can see on someone's face that they had a wonderful day and you had something to do with it. She also gave some incredulous wisdom through a personal story:

One time she was hired by a wealthy couple who had also taken a driver with a car. They did the entire "Argolida" tour, which is to say they saw the city of Ancient Corinth, made famous by one saint, the Corinth Canal, made famous by French engineering,  the ancient city of King Agememnon, cursed descendant of "Pelops," and Trojan war hero, and Nafplio, adorable, "Italy-like" port town. Then they wanted to go to Sounion.

To give you an idea, it's like she took them to West Texas and they asked to see Galveston.

But Despina, a positive girl, said OKAY and they went. It was a twelve hour day but they made it. She was paid well. On top of the four hundred euro that was her fee for such an itinerary, they gave her a one hundred euro tip. Five hundred euros in one day! She said, 'This is great! I want to make this every day!"

The next day she went out with a friend for coffee in Kolonaki and her purse was stolen with every bill in it.


I have my own version. The first time I was asked for a private walking tour, I was paid over what I'd asked. The next day I left my wallet in a coffee place on the way to Delphi. It was black and embroidered with red and turquoise flowers. I'd bought it in a bazaar in Istanbul. I'd stuck an interesting cracked button that I'd found in the parking lot in the pocket. And oh yeah, and all the money was inside.

You needn't assume mine has a happy ending even though Despina's didn't. I lost it all.

I don't know that it's so much that you can't be happy about money. I do think that there is something, SOMETHING, about being so surprised that you got a large amount at once you are proving that you don't believe it could have happened, and in some way that disbelief blocks you from believing you get to keep it.

My father is rolling his eyes now, I'm sure of it. "Maybe it means you shouldn't leave your wallet in coffee shops, Paige!" (well Dad, as always, you're right...)
but I'm convinced that good or bad, we bring about the events in our lives, which is why there is no real point to calling things good or bad. They happen in accordance with the decisions we've made and the way we perceive ourselves.

There is probably no real way for someone who doesn't care a lot about living a wealthy life to believe that getting a lot of money isn't a big deal, but it would be nice to start inching a little closer to comfortable. My goal for the future is to believe every penny I'm paid was earned, fair and square. No surprises. Radically alter what I perceive to be a "lot" of money. This is exactly why every opportunity that is coming up to earn a little more is worth my cracking open. Let's see what we got.

So. Door number one....

PS, this is a door in the neighborhood of Koukaki, the neighborhood behind the Acropolis and a neighborhood I would not mind at all opening one of the doors and calling it home.