Greek summer nights

I remembered this time of the year, 2011. I came back from England in April, for Easter. I was working there as a babysitter for a Lebanese family. At the end of my Easter holiday the family decided that my help isn’t needed anymore. So, there I was, unemployed in May. On my birthday I didn’t see anybody. Kept my phone closed. Everybody knew I was supposed to go back.

I learned the bad news and I told my brother about it. Actually, it’s improper said. He felt it. He asked me what’s wrong. I told him I won’t be going back to England. He told me to go have a barbeque with friends, anyway, it was already scheduled, and then we will sort it out. See, this is the thing about my brother. He feels when I’m going through something. And he helps by acting normal. This is his super-power. He lifts people up.

After the sad news I decided I won’t tell my family. I’m talking about my grandfather, who raised me. So I decide to stay out of reach in my mom’s apartment. She was in Spain anyway. So I hid there for almost a month without anybody knowing what I’m doing. Depressed and lonely. 24 years of age and I don’t know what’s going on with my life. No income, no support. Till one day when somebody saw me going to the supermarket and told my grandfather about it. Then I had to come clean.

I tried to find a job in Romania but everything was shit man. Salary will not cover rent and monthly expenses. So I found a job in Greece. I applied. They took me. Here I am, mid-july on the bus to Athens. Took the ferry to Crete. I was on the ferry looking at the stars and imagining a fairytale. Clear moon on the mediteranean sky. 8 hours with the ferry and I reached the port. Heraklion if I’m not wrong. From there I had instructions on how to reach the resort. I was supposed to be a waitress in a big resort in Crete Island.

I reached the port and looked for a bus. My last money went on the bus ticket. And guess what? The bus took me to the wrong place, even though I had a long conversation with the driver about my destination. It took me to the wrong place and, given the fact that I was in a completely different country, I decided to go back to where I arrived and take another bus, that will hopefully take me to my destination. Good plan, but, as I said, I spent al my money on the previous ticket. So here I am, where I started, but with no means of going further. You know what I did? I saw a bar, I went in and I invented a story on how I lost my money and I need somebody to help me find my way to the resort.

I still see the image in front of my eyes. I am at the bar chatting with a young bartender and she keeps on asking me how I lost my money. Between us is a jar on which is written “tips”. I glance at it while I’m talking to her and I feel she doesn’t believe me. Probably she thought I need money for drugs or something. Tears dance in my eyes, and she feels it. She opens the “tips” jar and gives me the money for my trip. You don’t know gratitude the way I know it. You don’t know how my heart exploded in that moment. Strangers. Strangers will sometimes do more than somebody you know for a lifetime.

I went on the bus again and this time I reached my destination. 5 pm in the afternoon. I was supposed to be there at 2pm. I tell reception why I’m there and they call the manager. A Spanish guy. Ricardo if my memory helps me. He takes me in his office and asks me about my trip. I tell him the reason I was late. He’s very calm and gentle. God bless him. He tells me about the schedule and all work related details. He tells me that my uniform is ready and that there’s a shuttle that will drop me to my accommodation, in a village nearby.

I thank him and I’m happy I made it. I’m ready to go. He stops me. He asks me if I’m hungry, if I have money for food. I am embarrassed, but yet I admit. My voice strangled. He looks at me, he opens a drawer, he takes 500 euros and gives it to me. I am reluctant. He tells me to take it for now and it will be deducted from my first salary. I told you, you don’t know gratitude the way I know it. You don’t appreciate people the way I do.

We shake hands and he sends me away with the driver to my accommodation. I have no words to thank him. The ride to the accommodation it’s a local tourist train. Like the toy ones. The sea on one side, mountain on the other. Beautiful Crete. We reach to the accommodation. A 2 or 3 storey building. I am on the ground floor with one of the chefs, Polina, a Greek girl. She was never home as I, later, found out.

I didn’t realize it at the moment, but, when you go out of the building, the sea it’s a few meters away. There’s a secluded little beach with rough sand. Old people go there. There’s fish in the water. The small ones, the type that eats your dead skin. The elders are in the water letting the fish do their job. Over a pile of rocks, on the left it’s a proper beach, with long chairs and umbrellas. A few pubs and music in the distance. But I prefer the secluded one. Also to the left, uphill, there’s a small church, where later on I went and cried my sorrows away.

Beautiful church, with glasses full of colours. I went there to pray, to think, to cry. To cry my loneliness away. I still remember those day. They’ll never leave me.

I started work. I was a waitress in the lobby bar. And, man, how many glasses I broke. We had the coolest manager. After duty he will give us shots of tequila and then he’ll take us to the city to dance. I made friends. People that I still remember, that sometimes I talk to. I advanced from the lobby bar to the mexican restaurant with Argiro. I don’t know how to write her name now, but she was like a mother to me. From there I went up even more and I reached the VIP restaurant. Because this is what I do, I get better. Except when I don’t fully understand what my job is. But when I know what I’m supposed to do, I’m the best.

In the VIP restaurant I met the funniest and the kindest chef. Manthos. He made my life easier only with his presence and his words. We talk from time to time. Manthos if you read this, you should know how grateful I am to meet you in this lifetime. You are one of the good ones.

Dimitri, the hotel chef, you should also know that I respect you so much. You’re the coolest. A team I will never forget.

Then the season ended. Rain started. I was one of the last to leave. Only a few guests in the hotel. They’ll close for the winter. But that summer was one of the best in my life. I can never forget the rides I was taking with the toy train to work. Sea on one side, mountain on the other. Shepherds and sheeps. Dogs guarding them. Exploring when I had some free time. Mesmerizing green and blue sea. Skinny dipping at night. Beach parties. Bike rides. Sangria, home made, on the balcony. You can never know the happiness I lived that summer.

You don’t know gratitude the way I know it.

It’s all love and late night writing shenanigans. Peace!

 

In loving meowmory…

I know that are people who love pets and people who don’t. It’s simple. This post is not about convincing anybody to love pets. This post is about why those who do.

I love pets since childhood. Something about, actually, animals in general, makes my heart warm. It’s such a lovely feeling. And even petting them brings me joy, brings me happiness, it’s a feeling that I can’t explain. It’s like you want to hug them until you squeeze them with love, and you don’t want to let them go. It’s a pure form of happiness, as there are no material benefits from that.

Pets, in time, become part of your day, of your life, of your rutine, of your house. For me, my cats (2 naughty boys) are somehow the joy of coming home. I know, it sounds weird, but I’m single and until I’ll find somebody, they’ll be there when I open the door. I’m not taking this to any extreme, I’m just saying that when I finish work and I reach home and they come to meet me, feels less lonely… feels better than to open the door to… nobody.

I pet them a bit and I talk to them, and I, immediately, disconnect from the rest of my day. To be honest I prefer them to people just because they don’t talk, and because I can give them belly rubs. All these things aside, I am not a crazy cat lady, I just decided 3 years ago to get a cat, and even though I consider myself an irresponsible person, I managed to take good care of them in time.

I always had pets around me, if I think about it better, and even if, not once, I got bit by them, I can’t blame them for anything. They’re animals, they’re not acting responsibly.

I know there are cats or dogs lovers, but I’m both. Or i’m all animals lover. Yeah don’t count snakes as pets, lizards, gators or tarantulas. Let’s keep it casual.

One of my cats sleeps with me at night. Sometimes he sleeps like a person, with his head on the pillow. Sometimes he lets me hug him to sleep (yeah that’s quite difficult for cats) and in the morning he wakes me up by touching my nose with his paw. He is awesome. Yeah, you will never hear an aminal lover calling them “it’.

They say cats don’t really show love, but I disagree. They do in their own way. And there are different types of cats. Some of them are not really interested in humans, except when it’s time for food, and others are cuddly and loving. They just casually come next to you and rub their noses agaisnt you hand, their body against your leg, they lick your hair or just look into your eyes and blink affectionately.

We love them because they are warm souls around us. Because when we’re sad, they make us feel a bit better with their presence or by petting them, or when they do something naughty. We love them because sometimes they seem to understand, only by looking at us, what’s wrong. Something that people most of the times, lack.

We love pets because they’re warm and fuzzy and naughty. They’re love. That’s it. They don’t bother our lives, they add to it. Yeah, of course there are moments when we tend to say the opposite but that’s just human nature. We say the same about kids. And no, I’m not comparing them with kids. It’s a post strictly about pets, even though I can show you people who love their pets more than anything in this world. No that’s not wrong if they keep anything else normal.

There’s only one issue with pets. They leave us… Too soon sometimes… and even though we know that their span of life is not as long as ours we are almost never ready to lose them. They have a place in our hearts, we love them and it’s hard to lose them or to get ready to lose them. We want to take care of them and make their lives better because they make our so. And when they’re gone… it’s just that empty bowl of food next to the fridge and a collar that carries such a beloved name. They always have funny names.

Almost everybody will tell you a story that starts with “I once had a pet..” be it dog, cat, bird, hamster, guinea pig, etc. There’s always a funny story about these pets. Because this is their purpose, to live with us bringing happines and warm memories later on.

Sometimes we look at them and they are so damn cute. They just make you feel like a child. You start being silly around them. You love their paws and cute noses and their furrr. And you know what I like the most? To see the toughest people becoming so gentle and warm around pets and that’s such a great thing to see.

Yes, we are grown ups, but a loss is a loss. And nobody has the right to say that it’s not a real pain when we lose a pet. They become friends in time, they have their role in our lives and now they’re just… gone.

And the worst part is that they can’t tell us what’s wrong, we can’t help them with anything, they are so helpless and sometimes they suffer in silence with us looking at them… helpless.

I’m not writing this because I lost one, even though sometimes dark thoughts make me think about that day. Or maybe I write this for all those I lost. But most of all I write it for those who did lose a friend.

In loving memory of our friend Goofus. A brave little soul.

It’s all love and heartwarming feels. Peace!