Posts tagged " friends "

On a Bunch of Parsley

March 26th, 2020 Posted by Tabula Rasa 2 comments

For as long as I have lived in Athens, which is most of my life, I’ve wished that I lived elsewhere. The rowdiness of people as they speak, the black clouds spurting out of the exhausts of cabs and school buses, the lack of respect for personal space as we line up at the supermarket cash registers, the loud whispers of neighbors as they gossip about the people next door on their balconies in the summer, the traffic on warm summer weekends as everyone heads to the crowded beach.

Today, there is nowhere else I’d rather be. The concept of ‘home’ takes on a new meaning, when you can’t be anywhere else but there. So many things that until now we took for granted, suddenly become priceless, warm, even magical.

During this imposed isolation, or social distancing, however each person wants to label what we are all living today, our main goal, besides to not get Covid-19, is to not go mad. Social media floodgates have burst open with a deluge of “how to keep busy at home” and “22 great ways to keep your kids entertained”, supermoms post photos of happy kids that have produced works of art and perfectly shaped cupcakes, the health nuts post videos of their hot bods pumping iron in their clean living rooms, all of which to a real person are completely useless. And there I am, on my couch with nothing left to watch on Netflix except Dynasty (and that’s not happening), the fourth weekly bag of Doritos resting on my stomach. I feel like pushing the windows open and somehow breathing that forsaken coronavirus into my system just to make it all stop. Thankfully, I’m responsible for a minor and have to keep my shit together. So I find ways to stay sane that work for me.

“What’s everyone’s problem?” my mother scolds on the phone in reaction to those that are hoarding and breaking lockdown rules. “During communism in Russia we didn’t have toilet paper for weeks. And we didn’t need to go anywhere all the time.” Well, there was nowhere to go, i think to myself. As there isn’t now.

On the first day of the lockdown, I type “2 Maria Kostaki” and my address and send it to a designated five digit number, asking someone or something obscure for permission to go food shopping. instantaneously, that permission is granted and I’m free to drive to the laiki (farmers market). As I drive (windows open, music blasting, singing some 80s song like there’s no tomorrow), a friend calls while walking her dog. She’s nearby and remembers that she needs a bunch of parsley. “I’ll come by,” she says. We already feel like we’re breaking the law. We see eachother from three meters away, stop and stare, the stall full of fruits and vegetables acting as our visible shield of protection. It’s the most bizarre feeling to want to take in the face of a person, that under normal circumstances, you see at least once a week. To see and remember it, not on your computer screen, but in real life. What eyes express in the naked air cannot be communicated through the internet. I feel like we freeze in a time where even sadness is sweet, for it’s a feeling other than fear, the fear that we’re engulfed in.  I give her a bunch of parsley that I pick up for her with whatever I needed from that stall, we take step back, we don’t discuss it, we exchange smalltalk and head our separate ways. I smile, for even that minute itself, was enough.  

The next day, I walk to the local shop to get a yogurt that I don’t really need, just to exchange words with the owner. As I leave, it starts to drizzle. I stand there like a love-struck or broken-hearted teenager (you choose) in a bad romcom. Only I’m too self conscious to raise my arms to the sky, which is all I want to do. No matter how much any movie tells you, you never know how good rain can feel falling on your cheeks until you’re really need to feel it.

So every day, I type choice 2 into my phone, wait for approval and head to a supermarket, hoping to catch sight of a familiar face. I speak to friends and suggest we find a store that’s in the middle of where our homes are so we can cross paths, if only for a moment. And realize how sad this is, even if it is for the greater good. I’m sure withholding human touch must be a form of torture somewhere. 

What’s going to happen when we are finally allowed to be in a room together, to touch each other, to pat a knee, to embrace, to hold a hand? I can’t imagine, but I dream of it. My friends’ voices, my kid’s laughter as he gets to run in the park with his friends, my mother stepping off a plane healthy and sound, how loud we are all going to scream trying to get a word in over one another as we share food and not care which glass of wine belongs to whom, and the absence of hand sanitzer from the table.  As I dream of Athens and its noisy people, traffic, neighborhood gossip, and endless road trips to a crowded beach.

P.S. Thank you Θ and Σ for giving my thoughts an image before they were complete.

On Freedom Night

July 17th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

A girl’s night out can be a tricky thing. In our 20s it usually resulted in drunken stupor followed by black outs and hangovers. In our 30s, they become rare, as everyone slowly found their elusive other half and spent nights cuddled up on couches, gaining weight by the kilo per Saturday.

Then came the babies.

For the first few years, nights out are events that we planned months in advance, trying to work around toddlers’ schedules. When and if we succeeded to meet up, the result was pretty close to the nights of our 20s, minus the fun and the all-nighters. The drunker we got (end of drink one), the more we complained about diapers, walking, crawling, puke, poop, lack of sleep, and by the end of the night (end of drink two), the conversation had shifted to how beautiful all our children are and how lucky we are to have them even though we get no sleep and no alone time. The friends without kids that originally joined us, slowly chose to not attend. And us, well, we opted to avoid these nights, dreading the sleepless night, followed by a gallon of water per each drink consumed at 6 a.m. the next morning, accompanied by the angelic screams of our kids.

And then we got used to all that. And suddenly, the babies and toddlers became kids that can turn on the TV without our presence before sunrise. And even more suddenly, so much so that it caught us off-guard, we got to have a real girl’s night.

It was a Saturday, at the house of two moms, whose kids got dressed up to greet the guests, and eventually, relatively painlessly went to bed.  I was so stressed about the possibility of a “pass out” occurring before 11pm, that I actually took the second nap of my lifetime that day. And everyone showed up, and stayed up. Friends I hadn’t seen without kids hanging off their sleeves in over five years, friends who had never left their children with a babysitter before, friends without kids who decided to give us another chance, friends who I see every week but suffer from not exchanging an adult conversation with, ever. We sat around a table, by a softly lit pool and talked. Listened to old music. The one that has words that make sense to accompany the tune. Moved chairs to be close to someone else, and talked some more. Some of us had dressed up, because we could, some dressed down because they could. Nobody cared, nobody got wasted, nobody fell asleep, nobody took their clothes off to jump in the pool, (though I must confess, I’d hidden a bikini in my bag), and children talk was limited to a five minute burst that faded as quickly as it had blown up.

We were us. But a different kind of us. An us that is not afraid to cry, to laugh, to scream, to be real, an us that is aware, accepting, embracing. An us that has spent our 20s and 30s together, and us that now has nothing to hide, an us, whether with four kids, two boyfriends, divorced or alone, sees things clearly.  An us that is free.

On First Love

October 7th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

We all think we remember it, that first love, I thought I remembered mine, but I’m starting to believe that our first true love stories may happen much earlier than we realize. They happen before we are even conscious of what love is, which is what makes these stories so real. Pure.

There’s a boy and a girl, I’ll call them B and G, they met a year ago in preschool, he was barely potty trained, barely spoke a word. She, a little older, ran away from him, then immediately to him. They shared an interest in trains and bulldozers, they shared a classroom, they shared the sudden flood of knowledge that only kids their age stay afloat in, grow from.

He began to speak, order her around, she bit his hand, then his arm, but he didn’t want to let her go, and with the guidance of his mom, forgave her. They each chose a bicycle, and at recess, rode with noone but eachother.

The summer split them apart, yet each asked for one another every day.
“Mommy, I miss G,” he said every night.

G came to school earlier than scheduled that year, the morning after a long flight, jet-lagged and exhausted, but demanding to go. They saw eachother and hid behind their moms’ legs for a second, then let go, and headed to the play dough station.

Their moms try to bring them to school at the same time each morning, so one or the other doesn’t stick their head out the car window looking to see if the other has arrived, so that one does not sit in the corner quietly until their friend finally comes in, and at the end of each day, they choose to embrace. The kind of embrace where you have no idea what it means, don’t care if anyone is watching.

It’s raw, unfiltered, forgiving, endless, unafraid, unknowing.

That’s what love should be, that’s what it really is before our egos outgrow our hearts, before we forget what it means to forgive, before we believe that one companion is not enough, before other people’s voices begin to have the power to influence our minds.

I find myself having silly, immature, romantic cliche thoughts. I imagine them as teenagers, still bound by this unconscious love, and wishing that we could all, as adults, feel like this forever. Hoping that maybe at least they will. So this raw love, it must still be here, buried somewhere, enticed to unearth itself as I watch two little people live what we all would die for.

A Letter of Caution to my Friend who Hasn’t Seen me in Years

July 20th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

I’m no longer who you remember, but I’m still me.

I will try to clean up my house before I throw open my front door and welcome you inside. I might not succeed. There will be dust, there will be random clothes all over the living room. And not just my son’s. Our clothes, that we leave laying around so long, they become part of the setting. There will be pee on the toilet if you hang out long enough. And I will not be able to chatter, gossip, and catch up, for more than 30 seconds at a time, if we’re lucky. When I offer you coffee, I won’t reach for a capsule neatly arranged by the nespresso machine. I’ll have to go break one of the capsule shapes dotting the play area table. I may smell, my hair will be in pony tail, shiny streaks of white peeping through, I will try to shower before we go out.

My car is a dump of toys and crumbs, if I hadn’t washed it yesterday, you’d probably have to sit on sand. There are buckets and shovels and rakes and dump trucks that swerve around the trunk every time I turn. And I may only know two songs on the radio. I’ll take us to a restaurant that may have closed or died down three years ago, I’ll have little to say that may interest you, so I will ask a lot of questions. I’ll pull random objects out of the pockets of my jeans; twigs, candy wrappers. There will be cars and baby wipes in my bag. The only thing that may seem familiar to you, is my 11pm curfew, like the one we used to have growing up. Only tomorrow, I won’t come home and then climb out of the living room balcony, once my parents fall asleep.

We’ll laugh about our past, we’ll dwell on our present, our eyes will light up when we speak of our future, and it’ll be like you never left.

I’m no longer who you remember, but I’m still me.

Friendly Privilege

June 10th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

“Pieces” is hanging on a faraway beach in Abu Dhabi today. There’s a special kind of privilege that goes with spending your childhood at a small international school. Friends and classmates come and go, the energy is forever shifting, post-graduation most leave for universities and work abroad, but the tight-knit community is always held together by an invisible string. We always come back, even if for a fleeting moment, to the place we grew up in, together. Even if we don’t, someone who does, knows what someone else is doing, tells someone else, and you get the picture. And as much as we may all dislike Facebook, it’s only made that string stronger. It’s definitely worked wonders for my novel. Thank you for reading and sending proof, Christophe Corsi.

On Roadtrips

February 27th, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

Road trips always relaxed me. The sight of the road disappearing under the car, the long stretch ahead. Towns, villages flashing by like mini movies with an unwritten script, trees, meadows, factories, truck rest-stops. People in other cars, I wonder where they’re going, sometimes you see a bike roped to the truck left ajar, kids fighting in the back seat, maybe they’re on their way to their grandparents.

Us, we’re just driving to clear our heads, to be together alone. In the beginning we make small talk, how are you, how’s your partner, your mom, your dog, work and kids. Then we sit in silence, it’s deafening at first, like a forgotten noise, it grows louder and louder until it suddenly disappears, becomes a comfortable silence, and we’re ready. The CD player smoothly swallows our old disc, the playlist starts playing, one of us turns up the volume, we roll down our the windows, and we begin to sing. Each has her favorite song, her favorite lyrics, sometimes we’re not sure what they are, so we improvise. I scream loudest to “Chasing Cars,” my friend to “Crash into Me,” and the other to “Wisemen.”

We reach our destination with hair dos of bad 1980s punk rockers or three women that have stuck wet fingers in sockets, but our cheeks are rosy, we’re high on the abundant countryside oxygen and singing has worked it marvel of stress release.

We used to take these road trips whenever we wanted, never really appreciating them because it’s hard to appreciate what you easily have. Now they happen once or twice a year, and feel like the most precious gift anyone has ever given us. Simple. Real. Free.

Pieces: a novel

“Pieces” is the winner of the silver medal at the 2017 Independent Publishers Awards (IPPY), and a finalist at the USA Best Book Awards and International Book Awards.

When Clouds Embrace: a children's book

All proceeds from the sales of "When Clouds Embrace" will go to Giving for Greece, a foundation that works to help the hundreds of unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece.