Coming Live from Europe

Sunday Blog 53 – 18th September 2022

Me and my sister in London in 1979, and 2022 – a mere 43 years in between….

Last Sunday was blog day, only I had just arrived in London the day before, and was due to head off to Paris the next day, and what with one thing and another, it just wasn’t possible to get the Sunday Blog done. (There were some cheeky work deadlines in there as well I will just bleep over, because no, I didn’t get everything finished before I left Perth for this trip!)

As James Clear says though, missing one day of your habit is not a deal-breaker – but never miss more than one. So here I am, Sunday Blogging, having been to Paris, Rouen and now safely landed in Hydra, Greece since last Sunday.

Transition days. They’re a lot. Yesterday’s transition day involved a donkey too.

Hydra Donkey

There is something so mysterious to me about travel. That me, my body, my personality, can be back it the same place perhaps many years apart. Am I the same person, is it the same place? Is it possible to step into the same river twice? Apparently not, but it feels like a vast and endless mystery that I am able to come back to a place and meet myself or selves from when I was there before.

I first travelled overseas at the age of 14, spending time in the UK and Europe. I went with my sister who was 15 nearly 16 – we are pictured at the top on our first morning in London, looking over the London rooftops. I know I was experiencing a great awakening from a very sheltered and suburban Perth childhood. Travel pushed out the walls of what life looked like and what it could be.

It would be another 11 years before I would return to London as a 25-year-old and make it my home for six years, working at Greenwich Maritime Museum for that period of time.

But it was another 43 years before my 14 year-old-self was once again joined in London by my sister. Here we are on the right at Embankment, London, me on the left, she’s on the right. We just had about 48 madcap hours to wander through London together before heading to France and now Greece, talk through the hours, the days, the years, the decades. Inside I feel 27 but outside time is marching…

After making London my home, as much as anyone can make that vast city a home, I in 1996 aged 32 and moved to Greece to teach English as a foreign language. I left Greece for good in 2000, by then a mother of a beautiful half-Greek girl. It’s an understatement to say there had been many twists and turns between 1996 and 2000.

To be back in Greece today once more is a complicated joy. It’s fair to say I have mixed feelings about Greece. I will never forget having my beautiful daughter’s plump baby’s cheek squeezed by a woman at an incomprehensible wedding I found myself at with my daughter and her father. He was never much given to explanations so I didn’t really understand who the relatives were but I was under no illusion how punished he felt by having to attend the family event. He sulked and raged as he put in an unfamiliar formal outfit. This woman (presumably a relative) said to me in Greek, “Never mind, you’ll have a boy next time.”

She didn’t know it, but she was part of the fuel I needed to leave the very unhappy life I was leading in Greece and bring my daughter back to Perth for good to raise her in my home country. Perfect it’s not, but there is more of a place for women.

I made lentils for lunch today and found myself signing a song I wrote a while ago about my daughter’s YaYa and her son and their dynamic — she cooks him lentils for lunch. He eats, ignores her and leaves. But damn those Greek lentils are good.

No matter how mixed my feelings are about Greece I always want to come back.

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