Summer, July ’17 —
1. Athens greeted us with a wave of heat we weren’t expecting. Here, no wall was left blank. From the airport to Athens, every building was an attempt at immortality. At someone, somewhere, wanting to leave behind something that would outlast them. And if that’s possible anywhere, it has to be here. It has to be Athens. The city with a history I can only grasp feebly at; my hands reaching out only to brush against the surface, my small being unable to comprehend the deep valleys carved beneath. Monuments showcase their perseverance, outlasting each generation and then the next. Ruined and yet. And yet. The turning of hope.
2. The heat greeted us in the morning, followed us over and down Filapappou Hill (‘The Hill of Muses’), walked with us through Athens, joined us for lunch, and spooned us through the night. She was our travelling companion, guiding us to shade, reminding us to hydrate. When exhaustion finally took over, our bodies splayed out flat on the mattress. There was no blanket ready for us, and we didn’t notice. A warm glow of light from the street filters through the slightly ajar balcony door. After almost 24 hours of travelling – from home to here – we couldn’t go on. With the fan blasting recycled air onto our arms, back and legs, we collapsed into sleep.
3. The sun sets late here, giving so much room for light. For day to outlast night; for time to transcend into just a yellow hue across the atmosphere. At 8:30PM, the sun starts its descent. I sit on the balcony with our AirBnB host, Evan. We talk about where we’ve been and where we’re going. His home is ideal. It is small enough for every corner to be filled and for one to live in solitude, but big enough to move around, and I imagine, to dance freely through with a few people you love. There is poetry on the bookshelf. But there is poetry everywhere. There is a balcony that goes all the way around the apartment, lined with plants thriving in the humidity. And from the balcony, through the bamboo slits, I see: Athens. The uneven tallness of apartments. And directly in front of me: an abandoned space, or in the process of abandonment, nestled between two apartment buildings. The space becomes a window for what’s behind. Clear in view, a green apartment building. The kind of green that is easy on the eyes, that invites you in. On the balcony of that building, directly eye-level from me sits an old couple. One chair each, but a shared love.
4. Athens lights something in my heart. Her mystery is mischievous. Her history still uncovering. As if, no matter how much you find, there is always more. You meet her and she leaves you as an aspiring historian. An archeologist. An anthropologist. She places an anchor in you and draws you back.