Twenty weeks in Greece! Wow! That sounds properly impressive.
As far as weeks in Greece go, though, it was a pretty slow one! Monday was Mallory’s last day here. She went exploring on her own during the day while I worked, and then we headed downtown for her last Greek meal. I googled “best places to eat in Athens” and settled on a place called GH Attikos because it said it had a rooftop restaurant. We left straight after work at 4:00 and got there around 4:30 for a late lunch. When we arrived, only one other table was full, and the hostess approached.
“What do you want?” she asked.
Confused by the seemingly obvious reply, I said, “…We want to eat.”
“Will you be done before 8?” she asked.
I glanced at my phone. “Uh, yeah.”
She escorted us to our seat, which had a STUNNING view of the Acropolis. While we were ooo-ing and ahh-ing, we heard noises that sounded like the kitchen starting up. We took a closer look at the space around us. None of the tables had plates or napkins or anything. The people sitting at the other table had been done for a long time and were only chatting.
The restaurant wasn’t open. But we waltzed in with our American privilege and assumptions, and ordered a full meal that they mercifully supplied. Sometimes it pays to be ignorant!
Mallory left early Tuesday morning, and I spent the rest of the weekdays soaking up some quality time alone (except for my Greek lesson with Maria on Wednesday night). This was especially necessary because work has been hard. We now have two girls in the Day Program (though only one lives in the house right n0w), and one speaks only Greek. This sent the rest of the HD staff into plans for Greek-speaking Day Program workers, and encouragements that we teach in Greek as much as possible, and I mostly let myself descend into a shame spiral of voices shouting “WHY ARE YOU HERE, YOU’RE USELESS.”
But I’m NOT useless. I’m pretty damn intuitive about healing, and thank God on Monday I had a breakthrough that gave me the strength I needed to make it through the week. During our “fear” class, we were meant to do a quiet exercise where we closed our eyes and mentally thought our way up our bodies from our feet to our heads. It was meant to help us listen to our bodies better, since tense muscles or cold sensations can help us know when we are fearful or not. (I should also mention that we had a translator.)
One of the girls immediately started panicking, saying that her psychologist tried to unlock her frozen body (her words) but she couldn’t do it, she couldn’t do. I tried my best to stay calm, assuring her we weren’t going to be touching ourselves, just thinking, and that if she didn’t want to do it, that was totally okay. She could just rest for a couple minutes.
So we went through the exercise and she was the first to say, “I felt cold.” I HEAPED praise upon her, telling her how amazing it was that she had noticed something about her body, that look – she thought it would be impossible but she did it, she even answered FIRST. She got this little smile on her face and said, “You’ve helped me more than three months with my psychologist.”
But it wasn’t over! The other girl had no problem thinking about her body, but all of her thoughts were negative, how she didn’t like the size or shape of things. So I suggested we try the exercise again. I asked the first girl to find one more thing that her body was telling her, and I asked the second girl to think of each body part as something useful, of legs as tools that carry her from place to place, of her stomach as a core that holds her upright. Afterwards they were both really pleased with themselves.
None of that was in the curriculum. I saw their individual needs and tweaked things to suit their own fears. And it worked! I know I am totally bragging, but that is because the rest of the week felt like a mind-numbingly slow hike through awkward translations and occasional classes where I relied on Google Translate. I felt very useless 90% of the time, but for that class? I WAS AMAZING.
Okay, so I already mentioned that the slow week led to a busy weekend! On Saturday I had coffee at Little Kook with Kendra, Rosie, Anthi, and Mercy (the girls I spent Easter with). I am so glad that those friendships are continuing, because they are English-speaking, cat-loving, nerdy friends. In a country full of people who are different from me, I occasionally need to be around people just like me to feel secure.
On Saturday night I went to the Bible School graduation. It was the first time I’ve been back since I moved away, and it was both very weird and very nice to see everyone. I’m so glad I moved out – because of ALL the things I’ve said before – but I do miss the people I knew there. However, it felt really good to sit with Maria and Kendra, friends not from the school, because I also learned something else about myself.
When I move to a new place, I latch onto a person or two and just let them carry me along with their life as I get my bearings. It is very helpful, but part of me resents the fact that I am not creating my own life. So inevitably I detach and start finding my own friends, my own home, my own church.
My own church! Today I went to 2nd Greek Evangelical, where all the girls from the Bible Study I’ve been going to attend (including Kendra, Rosie, and Mercy). It’s a Greek church with a solid ex-pat community within it, which is just the sort of balance I crave. Plus the headphones work perfectly! No static, no cutting out! I could actually listen to the full sermon, which is a first, I think, in Greece. And afterwards I stood around talking to a bunch of people, meeting some for the first time and catching up with others (like Marilia, the Greek girl I met at the women’s conference). It felt like home. Unless something very weird happens, I’m pretty sure I’m going to make it my home base.
Dina’s sister also goes there, and she took me with her to the Petrou’s house for an Easter lunch. Easter, you say? I knew Greek Easter was later than American Easter, but surely THIS is even later?? You are correct! But Dina was in the States during Greek Easter, so this was a chance for her whole family to get together. She invited me (because I’m “family”) but then greeted me with, “Today we will only speak Greek!” Again with the shame spiral, and the sullen, “Why am I even HERE if you do not want to hear my voice and opinions and stories??” thoughts that kept running through my brain.
Two hours later, I joined the kid’s table outside to eat, and after a few silent minutes, a girl half my age said, “So where are you from?” and then we all started talking about travel and cheap flights through Ryan Air. I am so grateful for the youths.
I went home to clean my patio (UGH – Greek expectations about outdoor cleanliness drives me INSANE….wow, there’s a lot of bitterness in this post, huh) and now I am waiting for Natasha! She was one of my friends at the school, a Russian-American woman who needs a place to stay before she heads home in July. So she’s going to live with me for a month, and I am super excited to have a roommate! I’m not really into a permanent roommate at this point, and I’ve got this very romantic idea that I will have people coming in and out of my house as needed (and maybe use it as an AirBnB site, too!).
June is going to be crazy. Can’t wait/must sleep!