A post about Greece, a little late

A post about Greece, a little late

a magical post-grad trip in Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini

Well, it has taken me over a year, for some reason, to get to writing about this lovely trip. I took this trip with one of my close friends, Mel, right after we graduated from college, last June, and it was an incredibly fun and aesthetically beautiful trip - everything Greece should be. I guess, in the moments after I got back, I couldn’t bring myself to think of it as a particularly soul-enriching experience in the ways that some of my past travels had been (India and Burma, for example, which had broken my heart slightly), and for that reason I didn't know quite how to write about it. It was a cultural experience, of course: I saw the Parthenon and many Ancient Greek structures - ones so beautiful, upon which modern life is superimposed in a way so extraordinary as to be almost unbelievable. Athens gives way to imagining the life of the Ancient Greeks almost as if they must be existing right there, at the exact same time, in a parallel universe: you are walking their exact same streets, passing right by their dilapidated, still beautiful buildings; just, somehow, 2,500-odd years later. I also experienced Greek culture, which had previously only been known to me in the very limited context of Greek restaurants. I had dreamed of being surrounded by beautiful white houses on a Greek island, and on this trip, I got my glorious dose of that. It was wonderful. But I didn’t feel that I grew as a person from experiencing these things: I didn’t seek out the tough stuff while traveling through Greece. We briefly caught a glimpse of the Elliniko Refugee Camp, the abandoned airport on the outskirts of Athens where many refugees have taken up residence, as we were driving back from a day at a beach bar; an embarrassing contrast. And Athens, too, had its juxtapositions: for a city flooded with tourists and money all year round, it doesn’t feel particularly safe or wealthy at all when one peaks beyond its main attractions. But I will walk you through what my journey to Greece was supposed to be in the first place, and what it ended up being: a well-deserved vacation. It was my college graduation present. Mel and I traveled together on a budget, but we still managed to splurge where it counted. And the Greek islands we saw were as beautiful as I’ve always heard they are; I can only hope to go back someday. 

Croatia - shot on 35 mm

Croatia - shot on 35 mm

Five days full of old-school photography, brave leaps into the Adriatic Sea, and my first appreciation of post-sunset glow.

 

This year (and by year, I really mean September on, since I still think in school years) has brought a lot of new and lovely things. I have made new friends I cannot imagine my previous life without. I have settled into my New York existence (though somehow that didn't take too long; a combination of being predisposed and thrown off the deep end as a "reporter"). I have had the good fortune of traveling to some of the most beautiful places I have yet seen: to Greece last June, to Cuba this past April, and most recently, this past month, to Croatia. And I have made up all kinds of excuses not to write about these things: I simply have not had the time, I’ve said. And that’s been partially true: from early August 2016 through May 2017, I was immersed in an intensive Masters program that gave me a schoolwork-related feeling I can only compare to partial drowning, in which I would come up for a breath of air only to have another huge wave of work crash over me for the next foreseeable future. But it was fun, grueling work, and I had tough editors who showed me exactly what my weaknesses are not only as a writer but as a human… I think I am still figuring out what the value in that experience was, and is, but it is of COURSE there - I am seeing it now more clearly even as I type these words. 

The Little Leaps We Take

The Little Leaps We Take

A few Sundays ago, on a grey morning in upstate New York, I jumped into the cool water of Lake Otsego right behind my house. “Jumped,” actually, is a strong word for what I did. I waded up to my hips. Then I waited for courage to take hold. And then I almost turned back, twice – halfway in’s good enough, I said to myself. I don’t need to put my entire body under this unpleasantly cold water. I’m refreshed from the hips down, good enough. And then, in a moment unexpected, without thinking (and thoroughly surprising myself), I dunked. And I swam as far out as I could convince myself to – long before the place where the water suddenly gets deep enough that I can’t feel the bottom (which freaks me out and induced panic attacks in my younger self).

Why College Was Less Than Perfect; and also why it was important

I am sitting at my desk in New York City, the very desk I sat at every day my senior year of college in Charlottesville, Virginia. I am drinking tea. I am looking out of the window at a drastically different view than this desk used to offer – instead of looking into an idyllic garden space (which none of my roommates or I ever used; take me back), I now stare face-on at another building that feels disruptively close to my own window. No, this building can’t even offer me a creepy-yet-comforting view into my neighbors’ domestic lives – the windows are too small. So here I sit, unaccompanied but with the knowledge that there are bodies all around me – above me (two floors), below me (four floors, or five if you count the basement), around me in all directions (I can see six huge buildings just from this one spot). They’re all full of people I don’t know, people I will never know - what is universally accepted as odd about New York city is the stark contrast between the number of people and how impossible it feels to actually meet anyone new. We are stuck in our fears of rejection, which are no doubt reinforced by the masks - hollow looks and dismissive retorts - that New Yorkers build up over the years.

On Relationships

On Relationships

I know, a lofty topic, albeit one that’s appeared in a lot of my writing since the very beginning of my writing career (which began at age sevenish). Well, at the beginning of my writing career I had very little personal experience with relationships to draw on, aside from a brief romance at age five with a boy named Jack who I still refer to as my “first boyfriend.” I even gave him the rose I received at school to present as a gift on Valentine’s day (one of which was given to each member of my kindergarten class with the definite intent that we gift it to one of our parents… I was a ballsy child, I guess, back before I learned to be self-conscious or became aware of the possibility of rejection). Anyway, I would say now that my experience with relationships – platonic, romantic, and in between – has expanded dramatically, even if I did wait until eighteen to have my first real kiss (after Jack, of course) and still have much to experience down the road. But this isn't going to be about my personal experience in the wide world of love (sorry to disappoint).