Thursday, June 4, 2020

Keening Under the Strawberry Moon—Life in the Time of COVID-19

COVID 19, travel, travel cancellation,
Nina's Pansion Alonissos, Greece

Today I won't be leaving The Shire here in New York to fly to Detroit to then fly to a different airport in New York and on to Athens, Greece

Tomorrow I won't be sleeping at the Sofitel Hotel that's only a quick walk from baggage claim. I won't be grabbing a taxi into downtown Athens to walk up to the Acropolis. I won't be darting into the Acropolis Museum to see the Caryatids or to pick up a notebook from the gift shop.

Tomorrow night I won't have a Greek Salad for dinner in my favorite taverna in Plaka. I won't have a glass of retsina and see the Strawberry Moon—the full moon in June—rising over the Acropolis. I won't meander back to the Sofitel across from the Athens Airport and sleep the deep untroubled, pre-COVID 19, sleep of a woman heading for her favorite writing retreat.

The day after tomorrow I won't wake up early and hurry back to the Athens Airport. I won't greet the barista behind the counter of Starbucks with Kalimera and enjoy a chai latte and banana before boarding my flight on Olympic Air to the island of Skiathos. 

The day after tomorrow I won't crowd into a taxi with four strangers and race to the port to catch my ferry to Alonissos. I won't sit outside on the deck in the sun and wind and watch the ice blue ferry wake, hoping to see dolphins in it.

The day after tomorrow I won't arrive in Patitiri, the Port of Alonissos, that quiet magical island that I dream of all year long. I won't drag my suitcase down the ramp dodging trucks and cars and hurrying to hug some of my favorite people in the world. I won't be greeted by Chrisoula. I won't see Julie's white hat. I won't haul my suitcase up four or five flights of stairs to my favorite room in the pansion overlooking the port. 

I won't walk up the steep hill to the shops for vegetables, olive oil, olives, and feta. I won't buy a pot of fresh lavender to put on my balcony where I won't write every night. I won't sit with the women writers I call my kula every day and write, or listen to them read their writing out loud. 

There will be no carrying bottles of water up all those flights of stairs every day. There will be no greeting familiar faces with Yassos. There will be no hiring a taxi to take me to Leftos Gialos, my favorite beach on the island, no welcome dinner at Elenas with tables scattered inside an olive grove while the Aegean touches the shore. I won't greet Yaya who makes the spinach pies and sits beneath a giant olive tree in her scarf and wishes a friendly kalisperra to every guest.

There will be no donkeys, no hikes up the donkey trail to Kali Thea, no massages or yoga with Bibi and Lee. There will be no sunsets in Old Town. No writing tucked in chairs beneath cascades of bougainvillea. No losing track of time and staying so late I have to call my favorite taxi driver and ask please, parakalo, don't make me walk the donkey trail in the dark.

Billy the Seal may very well slide up onto the port beach and steal someone's lounge chair but it won't be mine. There will be no thundering music at The Drunk Seal, no gathering with friends at Carolis for olives and sparkling water, no midnight gelatto. 

Yet, I've had that, because despite COVID-19, I am the luckiest writer you never heard of. Next year maybe I'll go back and I will once more wallow in my perfect paradise. Only not this year and for today, tomorrow, and maybe the day after tomorrow, I'm going to allow myself to miss that. 

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