Shedding, Octopi, etc
As we left Thalami, Sophia was full of apologies.
Her glorious restaurant right next to Fidia’s had been on our list to check out all week. Google warned me it might be closed due to a local holiday, but we arrived to find it open and extremely busy. Full to the brim with celebrating Greeks.
I settled in and zenned out, having already learned with Greek dinners that you can’t go expecting any less than a two and a half hour experience.
This was a good call. It did indeed take three hours, and the meal was, unsurprisingly, spectacular.
That’s how your octopus gets to you in Greece, by the way. Dylan told me about this phenomenon but I still wasn’t prepared for it when I saw it first.
It comes to you fresh, and it comes to you perfection. The whole meal was perfection. Perfection octopus from the line, perfection lamb, perfection salad, perfection. All with a view of the sea just about a hundred feet away.
There’s nothing that compares to finishing the greatest meal of your life and walking one hundred steps into the Libyan Sea. We went for a swim, returned, got the check and let Sophia know we were truly not pressed about how busy it had been. Still though, José and I were tickled by her horror at a fact that, in my home country, would be cause for great financial celebration.
“When there’s this much business,” she explained, “It isn’t good for me and it isn’t good for you.”
Oh, Sophia. Never leave me.
This sentence is unequivocally true. It is also reflective of a fabulous and extremely Greek state of mind that has taken every one of the last fourteen days to get used to.
I’d love to tell you that meeting the Greeks in their calmer, more delicious life over profit lifestyle has been a pretty process. But in actuality I’ve just been thoroughly and painfully shedding a full set of skin.
(Not my first experience here, but definitely the most painful.)
I’ve had several incarnations, dating back first to me being an annoying / overly precocious kid in school. Even then I remember wondering if snakes or other reptiles find it painful to completely lose their outer layer. I asked all the time in school, pissing off a lot of science teachers who patiently or not so patiently told me it’s just a natural process.
Snakes don’t feel pain. Etc.
But fuck it man, I’m not a snake. This entire process has been excruciating.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m enjoying, truly, being in the most beautiful place on earth. And the vacation we talked about me so desperately needing a few weeks ago is happening, for sure. But what I hadn’t bargained for was everything catching up to me like this.
I stopped moving, and my body rejoiced.
Then my body said, “This isn’t good for you and it isn’t good for me. Time to cry.”
Boy, have I cried. Yesterday I sat in our little bed atop the mountain and howl sobbed for hours. Snorremans’ cousin came to the window to make sure I was okay and scared the shit out of me in the process.
I kept looking out the window at the sea/Snorremans and beating myself up. There’s a unique shame that comes alongside not fully enjoying yourself in the most beautiful place on earth. I wanted to swim, but my body just wouldn’t let me. Instead, I went through a whole pack of tissues with my hero husband.
This morning was a lot better. Feeling lighter, I went to develop an old disposable camera in the tiny town of Chania.
The guy in the photo studio kept trying to fix the photos for me. He meant well, wanting to make them less grainy, a bit brighter. The only issue was that that wasn’t what I wanted.
I’ve been finding this a lot on this island (and on earth). Men still just … don’t listen to me. It is disorienting and it is absurd. I learned a new trick though, when a gas station employee kept dangerously topping up our gas to the point that gas began spilling all over our car this week. If you, too, have difficulty here, feel free to borrow it.
It involves, after repeatedly asserting your needs, SCREAMING THEM.
Armed with my new tool I finally said to the Chanian photo man, “I HAVE TOLD YOU FIVE TIMES NOW THAT I JUST WANT YOU TO PRINT MY PHOTOS. YOU ARE NOT LISTENING. PLEASE STOP EDITING THEM OR I WILL LEAVE. I WOULD LIKE TO KEEP THAT PHOTO EXACTLY AS IT IS.”
That seemed to get through to him.
I’m glad it did, because the photo looks how it should.
Exactly as bad as it should look, that is. I can’t stop looking at it. So sweaty, so bloated, so sad and so in it.
Wearing my old skin.
Even with all the tears pretty much gone, I can’t really look at that t without being a little shaken and misty. I’m grateful José caught her in all of her painful essence.
That’s who wrote and recorded this album. This album, the first step I took towards shedding not just this traumatic pandemic experience, but years of weight. Years of letting people speak over me without yelling my needs back. Years of fear, pain, and trauma.
I hear all of that in the new album - the pain of it, the raw new growth, even the faint triumphant glimmer of a new emergence. And though I know I’ll never fully shed it because I am not a reptile, I’m excited for what I’m moving towards.
So I had José take a picture of me at Thalami tonight with more or less the same pose, to honor my new skin.
Wherever you are on earth, whatever incarnation you’re in, I’m sending you love. Thanks for being here with me in all of this. See you next week.
ps: We ended up returning to Elafonisi on a day with real pink sand, not just hints. Despite all my shade last week I had to join the influencers because you needed to see it. It was very worth it. Enjoy.
pps: if you’re new here or have been perusing and now want to join the community, the below helps these go straight to your inbox like the letter they’re intended to be.