The power went out three times during the flight from Detroit to Amsterdam. Everyone had settled in with movies or TV shows when suddenly all the screens went blank. A couple seconds later, all the overhead and tracking lights went off too. In the dark, hundreds of people sat silently for a good three minutes before someone official made an announcement saying yes, the power was out, and they were rebooting the media system.
It was a real testament to people’s patience and endurance…and also a hilariously scary picture of how useless we would all be in an emergency.
Halfway across the Atlantic, I hit the “What am I doing!?” part of moving. It’s such a strange feeling to realize you’ve decided to leave everyone and everything you’re familiar with and intentionally surround yourself with the unknown. Not only that, but I spent nine months fundraising and preparing to do this to myself! With all that forethought, it took actually flying for the panic to set in.
Luckily, I pulled out the envelope my mom had snuck into my purse. Inside was some candy and a picture of us with Argyris twelve years ago. It was exactly the encouragement I needed. I was still scared, but what kind of adventure doesn’t include at least a little panic?
Fear thrives on the unknown, so as soon as I saw Dina, the panic turned into excitement. We talked with increasing enthusiasm during the drive from the airport to the Greek Bible College where I’ll be living. There will be a separate blog post in a couple days to cover all of that!
We met up with Ioanna, who runs just about everything at GrBC. She showed me to my room, which turned out to be a single! Argyris called and told her I needed the privacy. It’s probably not hugely necessary now, but when our work at HD starts up, I’m pretty sure I’ll crave a space to be alone and destress. It is such a cute little room, and I can’t wait to spend tomorrow putting my stuff away and making it mine.
Mine! I’m going to be here A WHOLE YEAR. That’s so weird.
Less weird, though, because after Dina left, Ioanna took me to her room where four people were hanging out. One was Olga, a woman I met last March who will graduate from GrBC in May. The others were also super friendly, and our discussion about day planners morphed into them offering to take me around Pikermi to show me the sights (I’m technically living in Pikermi, a suburb of Athens).
The school is set just off of Marathon road. There’s a statue in the median of a man running, and I chuckled at it when we passed. One of the women told me it’s the actual road where, thousands of years ago, Pheidippides ran 26 miles to deliver a message to Athens from the Battle of Marathon. I can buy my morning coffee on the same land as mythic history.
They showed me restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, doughnut shops, and grocery stores. We stopped so I could eat souvlaki and learn some Greek. “Come here, let’s go, five times delicious, and hello formal and informal – that’s not so bad to remember!” one woman said. I stared at her in horror (0bviously, since I can only remember the English equivalents).
“πάμε!” I said. They cheered. “Let’s go!”
We went to a bakery/coffee shop. Mark drove by, stopped, and welcomed me to Greece. Inside, Ismini’s husband (who had been in Ioanna’s room, then disappeared with his own friends) joined us briefly. Someone called him Thanos, and I leaned forward. “Thanos!? Were you in the handbell group from eight years ago?”
“Yes. I recognized you earlier,” he said.
“Why didn’t you say something?”
“It’s been a long time. You were little back then. Nineteen?”
“Yeah, I was! Do you still have the handbells? We should play sometime!”
“My brother Miltos still has them. I’ll give you his phone number, and you can see about trying to get something together.”
I was glowing. I KNEW PEOPLE. I had memories, and I was reconnecting with old acquaintances, and I could make new friends while other people stopped in their cars to say hello. Greece is not so foreign after all. It’s going to be easier than I thought to make Pikermi feel like home.