Posts tagged " friendship "

On the Fire of Eclectic Human Superstars

September 25th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa 2 comments

I just spent a few days on a farm, unlike no other. To recall what it looks like, I need to swipe through the hundreds of photographs on my phone, because it wasn’t the Tuscan countryside, the greenery, the oxygen, that made it magical, it was the people I shared a roof and sky with, the people whose stories made my mind speed, shattering the everyday routine of a mother’s secluded existence that has marked much of my recent life. People from all over the world. Most of them were strangers, a few I hadn’t seen in 13 years, my friend, the bride, with whom we share epic stories of a lifetime, even though we met half-way through, and my new friend, the groom.

Getting married at 40-something, is very different to getting married at 20. You know what love is. You know what you’re fighting for. What you’re sacrificing, and why. You know the faces you want to see, the smiles, the laughs, the silence, and you know that they will be there. The friends and family that you’ve held on till then, are bound to possess the fire you’ve burnt to get this far, to be this brave. I want to tell you about a few of them.

I’m going to start with those I know, dad, mom, stepmom and cousin of the bride, after knowing me for 24 hours over a decade ago, made me feel like I was coming home. It was hardly a bad home to come to, warm bear hugs, and a freedom of jokes and laughter that you can only have with those that are not your family.

It was a partly Swedish wedding, thanks to the groom, (the other part a medley of New York, Boston, Italian-America), and the tradition there is to have two people run the show. They ran it as if it was they who were getting married.

The groom’s mother, the absolute powerhouse, bustling with energy, humor, and surprising warmth that suddenly appeared out of nowhere and kept me asking for more.

A perfect couple, with a perfect family, beautiful beyond the initial flash of perfection, brought together by a story that makes me want to put the wife on my shoulders and parade her cheering, around a town square.

And Lauren, the only person whose name I feel free to mention, for I finally found the person who can integrate the word “fuck” more than I can into a single sentence at inappropriate moments. We laughed so long, so hard, that I swear I could see the abs peeking out of my post-pregnancy 40-year-old pooch.

(The rest I will save for a future novel.)

We gave speeches at the dinner table, sharing personal stories, toasting the newlyweds, and at no point was there nobody crying into the freshly made pizza on their plate, even though the speech-giving lasted close to two hours. At the ring of the bell (yes, there was a bell), silence fell, gazes searched for the next amazing tale. Half-way through mine, I blacked out, as if I’d fallen onto a huge white pillow, listening to my almost incoherent babble, but it didn’t matter, I was there, I was part of it, I remembered who I am. I remembered what is real, what is true, what I live for. In an old farmhouse, in the middle of nowhere, in the darkness, surrounded by nothing by bright, burning, human balls of light.






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 What is Ours

January 10th, 2017 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

It’s been one of those weeks when I have so much to share with you, yet share nothing. From blinding snow storms, to nostalgia for the forests of little-known Latvia, to the maddening last days of Christmas vacation with a Paw Patrol-obsessed toddler, to the organizing of the Athens chapter of the Women’s March on Washington.

But as I lay down to (quickly) go to sleep every night, one image grazes in my mind. That of one of my oldest friends, and I’m talking 30-odd years, sitting beside my fireplace, while a woman, now her fiancee, looks at her like we dream for our partners look at us forever. And that’s not even the image. It’s the smile on my friend’s face. I hadn’t seen it since we were young, innocent, easily pleased, naive and reckless in love, watching that VHS tape of Dirty Dancing till it got fuzzy during our favorite scenes and finally snapped. Since she was last truly happy.

My son asks who this other girl coming to dinner is, I tell him she’s my friend’s friend. And immediately regret it.

He’s four, he lives in a country that just like most of the world, has nothing but a few bustling enclaves of acceptance and freedom. I’m just privileged to have lived in some of them.

A battle begins in my mind: I should have told him they are partners, just like mommy and daddy. He wouldn’t have even asked, he’s too young to ask, to unset in his ways, too open, too free, to accepting. And then I thought of his long hair, the clip I use to keep it out of his face, his sometimes bright green marker-painted nails, the sticker his wonderful teacher stuck on his earlobe, and the glances and comments it all evoked and evokes from surrounding adults. I imagine him telling his friends about mommy’s friends, imagine them going home and telling their parents, and tell myself it’s ok I didn’t tell him the truth. Even though the truth is beautiful and the rest is ugly.

On January 21st, hundreds of thousands of people will gather all over the US and the world to protest against racism, bigotry, against darkness, suppression, and hate. They will shout for freedom, acceptance and love. I will be standing in front of the American embassy here in Athens, Greece having gathered as many people as I can, to demand what is ours, rightfully, naturally, irrevocably. Love. And when that day, my son asks me where I am going, I am going to tell him. Because he has to know what is ours before someone or something tells him otherwise.

And after I do that, I will take him with me when I proudly stand next to these two amazing women and listen to them exchange their vows.


On A Liter of Blood

September 21st, 2016 Posted by Tabula Rasa No Comment yet

Somewhere in this city, a man lays in a hospital bed, weak and frail, fighting the tumor that had invaded his liver, with every last bit of power he has left. It isn’t the first time, he has almost mastered the rules of this battle, yet this time it felt different. He was weaker.

He had a rare type of blood type, they told him, the men in green and white coats, moving like automated ghosts in and out of his room. He’d have to wait and hope the blood banks fill up to begin therapy, they said.

This man has a daughter, his daughter is my friend. A friend that rarely, if ever, asks for help.

Please post for A negative, the message on my phone screams to me. And I began my search. I posted and shared and reposted and shared searching for that A-, as if was liquid gold. Some people clicked “like.” Many more shared. Others kindly offered other blood types.

But for the liquid gold, there was nothing but silence.

Until I found a message in the “requests” folder. One woman was offering us her blood, thanks to a share from one of my friends. By that time we’d been at this for over six hours and I had to look twice to make sure that she was A negative, and even when I was sure, I was afraid she would flake. She was a stranger, after all.

They say social media has estranged us from one another, depleted the word “friend” of its meaning. The world is turning into a cold, meaningless place where online relationships replace face to face conversation, touch, laughter. And maybe that’s true.

But this cold, meaningless world turned warm and nurturing, if even for a few moments today, when it saved a life.

A stranger, as far removed from his daughter and I as can be, sat in the waiting room of a public hospital, her life and responsibilities on hold, to save the life of that man laying in that hospital bed, and fulfilled the greatest responsibility of humankind; kindness to their fellow man.

Never underestimate the power of friendship, and never give up on the random kindness of strangers. It’s all we have, we keep eachother alive.

I wish you and yours invincible strength, Dimitra Capas.


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.

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.