I’ve returned home and am still pondering all the impressions of Greece. The 3,000 pictures I took are a mere tip of the iceberg. So was all the research I did prior to flying off. I have more questions than answers after seeing 9 ruins, visiting 8 museums, and catching a glimpse of 8 different communities.
All that history has been researched by numerous archeologists, historians, travel writers native and non-native to Greece. Is there room for another person’s impressions of islands that have been studied so thoroughly already? If so, what is my “angle”?
Right now I am just letting everything simmer and allowing myself to reintegrate into my life.
While I have no conclusions about the trip yet, one big conclusion I have drawn is that I love where I live. Everything was in bloom upon my return, and I was reintegrated into a warm weekend.
Then the wind started howling and two days were spent cloistered inside while Thunderstorms made day seem night. During those days the question cropped up again: What if this IS my life for the rest of my life?
We spend the bulk of our time looking forward and “can’t wait-ing”. I anticipated my trip, and then each day was packed with the sights to see and getting ready for the next leg.
Now there is a sense of limbo. I am processing the past month and have no plans yet for the next. I am basking in the luxury of letting Greece sink in without having to move on to projects and schedules.
Yet it is awkward too. I have not yet defined my new life, which completely flusters the Type A side of me. I can see how people get absorbed in spouses, children, work or activities to not face themselves. The comment I heard most on my travels was “You are traveling alone? You must really be getting to know yourself.” But I’ve spent so much time in solitude even prior to the trip, that I merely learned more about how I like to travel than being confronted with a particular aspect of myself. In fact, there were some affirmations of whether I had mis-judged my own outgoingness/attractiveness. Based on the connections I made in Greece both among fellow tourists and locals, I do not need to worry about becoming a recluse. 🙂
I just soaked up everything, and absorbed each sight, snippet of history, ray of sunshine as much as I could. I will say that being a complete stranger for 17 days was hard. Landing jet-lagged in a country where both the alphabet and the language itself have no similarity to any of the languages I speak is jarring as well. While I overheard Dutch, German and Russian and communicated in English the bulk of the time, it was my first time entering a country without studying its language. Funnily, the flight attendants spoke in such rapid-fire English that none of us would have understood the emergency procedures had it been our first flight ever. I was able to decipher words as I picked up on the alphabet, but the dialect and the rapid-fire pace at which Greeks speak wouldn’t let me pick up on anything but “OK” (Daksi) and “Hello/Goodbye” (Yassas) in conversations.
Coming home it was good to be recognized by the barista at my corner cafe, having my “bronze glow” noted by the Lucky Platter waiter, and spending an afternoon with a friend who didn’t ask “Where are you from and what are you visiting?” To understand all conversations by the locals going on around me was a relief!
It was also good to be unplugged. There is a restfulness in just sitting. I was so full from statues and timelines and the magnificent historical sites that I didn’t feel like reading most evenings. Vacation is for sunset watching and observing as people pass by. I will be doing more of that at home. I truly didn’t miss much in terms of headlines or Facebook statuses those 17 days. Even the local one-day strike had no impact on my experience.
Hopefully I can hold on to that restfulness as I figure out my next move. There are no “if onlys” blocking my path now. There is no longer “after this trip” thinking as there was before May.
The rest of this year completely belongs to me, distraction free. Just me and the cat and my home and my dreams.
It is going to be an interesting journey. 🙂