Although my mind is still consumed by Greek lessons, I had a bit more of a life this week (for better and for worse).
Last week I felt overwhelmed by all the verbs and vocabulary and grammar that I had to juggle every day in my Greek class. I also felt overwhelmed by making new friends. So last weekend, I stayed in my room as much as possible and worked my butt off mastering the Greek we had worked on. I’m talking 8 hours of Greek on Saturday and another 6 hours on Sunday. The payoff was worth it – when I returned to class on Monday, I felt like I was swimming through the lessons instead of drowning. Classes continued, my friendships with Nir and Elvira continued, and I started to really like our teacher Rosa, which is unfortunate because next week we have a new teacher.
I already wrote about the excitement of how we have a location for House of Damaris. The continuation of that is that Anthi took me to see the outside of the building on Thursday night, and it’s nicely secluded with a lot of trees, and there are balconies and…you know, outside of a building stuff. Eventually I will see the inside and have a stronger opinion. I’ve also been helping Dina write fundraising updates and letters. She came to my room Thursday morning and said, “We need $200,000 to fully renovate the house. God will give us the money!” Later I told Anthi that I’m just going to kind of borrow Dina’s faith body-of-Christ-style, because I definitely don’t have it. But, well. Maybe I do. Because God came through with providing us the house, so why not the money too?
On Thursday night, I went to Anthi’s house after class. We had dinner, she took me to see the house, and then we went to Ampelokipi (meaning “grape garden” because there were vineyards in the area before there was city) to meet up with Dina, Francisca, and Natasha to see a play! It was a three-hour production of Crime and Punishment in Greek. When the music started and a man slowly walked on stage, lighting a lantern and pouring a glass of water, Anthi leaned over and whispered, “Do you understand what has happened so far?” She filled me in every ten minutes or so, and I could mostly keep up. I wondered how much of the exaggerated emotion (there’s nothing quite so strange as listening to gibberish spoken normally SUDDENLY JUMPING TO SHOUTED GIBBERISH) was due to the plot and how much was due to the Greek actors. When it was over I found out that several of the cast were famous Greek TV actors, and Natasha made Anthi take multiple pictures of her standing with one of the men.
On Friday, I had three hours to kill in between class and volunteering at the center. I saw on an Athens map that the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch were just a short walk away, so I went past them and took some pictures. Hadrian’s Arch is across the street from my church here, so I knew that area a little bit. I ate dinner at a restaurant nearby, and when I looked up at my waiter to over chicken souvlaki, he gasped. I was about to self-consciously explain that, sure, it’s an uninspired choice, but I haven’t gotten tired of souvlaki yet, when he said, “Your eyes – they are so beautiful!” I spent the rest of my meal trying to eat like someone whose eyes are beautiful (for the record, that means using a knife and fork instead of my hands) and reading Alexander Hamilton’s biography.
I took the metro to Omonia, because when I’d used the restroom on the 10th floor of a department store last week, I’d noticed that there was a bookstore. They only had a bookcase full of English books (mostly classics that I could get for free on my Kindle) so I left empty-handed. I rode the metro to Neos Kosmos, remembered how to get to the center on my own, and stopped for coffee. No one else was in the shop, so I tried out my Greek on the friendly barista. Then I entered the chaos of 30 Albanian kids and teenagers. This time I allowed myself the privilege of staying just outside of the maelstrom, making my home at the drawing table and creating a tattooed unicorn with some little, quieter girls.
Danae and I rode the metro/bus home together again this week, and once again I had the intense pleasure of passing on some 10-years-ahead wisdom to someone else with anxiety and a tendency to over-analyze life, choices, and emotions. When I told her about my family and my life perspectives, she paused before saying, “Tricia, you are a very interesting person.” “Thank you,” I said with feeling, because that is just about the best compliment I can receive.
She is not obnoxious either, and I really liked listening to her intense discussions and worries about doubting Christianity and wanting to sort through her beliefs. She’s dedicated to the idea that she will believe things by her own choice, and not just because everyone around her has told her to believe them for her whole life. It was a good reminder to me, to pursue truth, to refuse the easy way out. Over-analyzing can cause a lot of personal distress, but…I think it’s worth it. I think it’s a way to a deeper, more meaningful existence.
Today I’ve finished my Greek homework (we had hardly anything since it was Rosa’s last day with us), played Final Fantasy 7 on my phone, and watched a lot of YouTube videos. Obviously it was a beautifully perfect day, and just what I needed after so much socializing with wonderful people. Tonight Roula is coming over – to catch each other up on life since we last saw each other eight years ago – and also, I think, so she can cut my hair!