I’ve been meaning to write about this trip. As if there’s some social code I’m breaking for not posting anything upon my return. But the truth is, I’m still sitting in a sea of gratitude. Snapshots in my memory, hitting me like the calm, rhythmic waves greeting me at the shore of Perissa Beach. I can still remember the initial feeling of my toes hitting the black sand. Soft and inviting, warmly squeezing my sock-less feet.
It had been a year or more, since I had touched sand and I was doing so in Greece… Santorini to be exact. I’m not sure why the sounds of water and the grains of rocks smoothed under me entrance me, but there’s a whisper in my head that says ‘you can’t possibly be standing here’ to my native Northeastern hurried past. The voice forces me to rebel, as I plant my feet deep, feeling the gravity of my presence. The view is mine to take in; there is no where else to be but here.
Moments before, I was on the back of an ATV Quad, helmet on, head heavy with trust, resting on Brandon’s shoulder — as I locked my arms around him from behind. The wind was chilled, but the sun competed to bring us warmth. The marine blue water evoked a gallery of pictures framed by my eyes, as B drove us to the #HeartofSantorini. I felt this way about every sight during our time there. My phone constantly finding its way to my hands to seize proof, despite my bag’s attempt to muffle any connection elsewhere. Despite my attempts to avoid the “system shutdown” msg a map instantly sends my brain. “How is this real?” I thought. “How am I here?” Logistically, though, I was there because Brandon got us there. I tend to lose myself, while I soak up every drop of this wander that I forget we can plan the day. A trait I developed after making checklists, timelines, and calendar Tetris part of my profession.
My heart has always led me in the right direction. And here I was meeting Santorini’s because of mine.
And then, within weeks, you’re fully submerged in a waterfall of daily tasks. You’re driving your car instead of a quad. Work emails are more important than pictures. The water seems far away, on a dreamt globe, as your tan fades alongside your thoughts and conversations about the lifestyles of people in other places. You remember the air-bnb host welcoming you, in your language, as she advised helpful directions for the metro. You think of a driver telling you about his new born baby back in Athens, while he worked the summer season in Santorini. The other Greek driver before him, currently learning Chinese, and recounting his studies to you, again, in your language. The waiter excited to tell you all about the Moussaka at their restaurant, or another one bringing you ice cream, without you asking, while you fixate on the sun setting like it were a movie’s final scene. The giant red rocks towering over the ferry as it docked. The buses cutting close turns into the small streets, dragging us up to the top of the island in a zig-zag fashion. You half-smile at the recount of the evident humors of the local bus drivers, dealing with confused tourists. All. Day. Long.
Athens. The chaos, the graffiti, and the Acropolis sitting above it all. The climb up through an actual neighborhood of cottages quietly tucked under traveling masses. Meteora. Its monasteries atop of rocks – steady, functional, yet surreal. The stone stairs made by hand, in the 14th century, leading us to climb toward the clouds. I wore a blue long skirt, pointed at me, upon my arrival out of respect. Every woman in pants followed the expectation… there’s a time and place for every rebellion, and these were their homes we were intruding. On the steps, I distinctively remember an Asian woman aggressively blocking us from passing, sternly saying “hold on” as her arm became a bar. Her unapologetic demeanor delighted me, while she got the photo she wanted. Now that’s a woman I can learn from – she wasn’t afraid to claim her space, I thought.
All the tourist groups representing many countries magnetized toward beauty.
Many non-American travelers filling the stone, white, clean streets — waiting to take the same photos, posing, and piling into restaurants. Such fellow street walkers weren’t there for an occasion either and don’t need one to name it a “holiday”. They don’t need an existential crisis to explore the life waiting in the middle of the Aegean sea – toward travel. It is in these moments that you truly identify how much societal “norms” can drown out your own thoughts. How much the walks toward the sun, fire you up to make the most of what you have right by your feet.
Experiences > Materials.
When you’ve been too busy to post on your Instagram… all the words you want to say about it. So this will do for now.
When work got you t(here). When the work is within.