While I was at the women’s conference, “A” moved into HD. I use the office for wifi, and she invited me up to see her room and talk on the balcony for a while on Sunday night. On Monday, we began our first Celebration Week! Every fifth week, we take time off for our participants to create an art project in the mornings, and fun times in the afternoon. Francisca and I went to Jumbo with “A” to buy art supplies, and it was really fun to go out on the town together, buying coffee and waiting for buses and lugging shopping bags up the hill.
“A” came over to my house for lunch after class. I wanted to make eggs (of course) to inaugurate my new kitchen and first oven in Greece, and “A” elevated the meal by making us a nice salad. I still don’t have dining room chairs, so we sat at the table in my office chair and on a footstool. It was really nice! But after that (and especially after a weekend of meeting new people), I spent the rest of the day totally alone. Lovely.
A new woman joined HD on Tuesday. Her situation is a bit different than our typical profile, and a little more complicated. We are still working out exactly what it looks like for her to join us, and I hope she does. It’s great that she’s joining us during our Celebration Week – while “A” worked on her project, Francisca and “D” and I worked on coloring pages. After that we all made lunch together – homemade biscuits, tuna salad, potatoes, and greens. I love the classes we lead at HD, but these moments of simple living and sharing are, I think, far more important in moving toward healing and wholeness.
Wednesday was MAYBE the first day where I felt like I have a social life in Greece. I went to work to a full house – Argyris and Luciana and George (Luciana’s fiancee) – were all in the offices. It was delightfully chaotic, people rearranging chairs and sharing desk space. It was Francisca’s birthday, so we ordered burgers for lunch and it was all really lovely.
I went home to clean a bit for Mallory’s arrival, and then Anthi and her cousin Philemonas arrived. He put up my shower curtain rod (finally, yay!), and when they left, I did too.
I had my second Greek lesson with Maria, and it was SO GREAT. Complaining on my blog is very therapeutic. Some part of my mental block had dislodged, and I was able to have actually conversations with Maria. I’m still much worse at hearing Greek than anything else, but I felt confident for the first time in months.
It helps that Maria is a fantastic teacher, and if she wants to quit her day job as a lawyer, she could easily fill her schedule with eager ex-pats. She let me talk and make mistakes, only correcting me when I paused or asked for the right conjugation. And she’s a huge nerd like me, so she happily pointed out shared word roots (which is actually super helpful in learning vocabulary) and discussed racism and history.
After our lesson, I went to Kendra’s apartment. She had invited me to join a Bible study of women from 2nd Church, and….I think I’m going to have to start going to 2nd Church. It was mostly UK or US ex-pats, but also one Greek girl. And we are all such intellectual nerds! They’re going through Galatians, and we study the passage with “Observation, Interpretation, Application” which is the most seminary-ness you can possibly get. I love moments like this, when a bunch of women are getting deeply detailed, and think, “Why isn’t this the stereotypical ‘women’s group’?”
We talked until 11:30, and then Dawn, a British woman who looks SO MUCH like my Peoria friend Wendy, offered to drive me home on her motorcycle. “YES,” I screamed, and fulfilled my dream of winding between traffic to the front of the traffic light stop. We yelled stories at each other as she drove, and by the time I got home at midnight, I felt so filled.
Mallory arrived in Athens! Wait, first I went furniture shopping with Dina at RETO, a home for men with drug addictions who now run a huge warehouse of refurnished donated furniture. THEN I went to the airport, picked up Mallory (but not her luggage), and we came back to my house. The furniture people were supposed to deliver my couch/coffee table/not-so-comfy-chair/end table/dining room chairs (all for €120!), but I gave them slightly the wrong address, and when they called we could barely communicate, and I didn’t have minutes on my phone to call someone to talk to them, but THANKFULLY it all worked out and now I have some living room furniture! I was super glad that Mallory was around, because her calm “eh, whatever” demeanor was very comforting.
By the time that was sorted, it had gotten pretty late, so we stayed in Holargos and got souvlaki at Big Bad Wolf and coffee at the fancy shop in the park.
Friday was GREAT. Mallory joined me at HD for our first Celebration Week Graduation. We had food and a little ceremony planned. “A” presented the artwork she’d made all week – a tree bearing lots of different kinds of fruit, each labeled with something she had learned in her first month with us. It was AMAZING to see how deeply she had internalized messages of self-love and community and empowerment. She was quoting back things she had learned and going even deeper. My face was breaking with how much I was smiling.
It was also so wonderful to see how much she valued having space to be celebrated. She got dressed up for the ceremony, and when we took time to each say something personal about what spending a month with her had meant to us, she said, “Who’s next? Who’s next? My self-esteem is very high today!” We took a lot of pictures and ate together and talked, and it was incredibly lovely.
Mallory and I left the house a bit early so that we could get downtown for some site-seeing before everything closed. I’ve now been to the major sites a couples times in a few months, so I really appreciated Mallory’s “this is so cool, okay what’s next?” mobility. We also started work on our super-dumb-and-hilarious video project “Adventurous, Not Dangerous,” which will be coming to you soon.
We finished the day eating in Monastiraki overlooking the Acropolis. We talked and solved all the worlds problems while feasting on bread and meat and wine. The good life!
Mallory and I went to the island of Hydra for the weekend, but that will be a separate post!