Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Homesick, but for what?

In the three years I have lived in Greece we have lived in four different places, thanks to my husband being an Army physician. It has been both good and bad having such varied experiences in such a short time, the best part of it being that I got to experience life in Greece from a view different viewpoints.

We started off in Athens, which was probably the best city to start off in as an American getting used to living overseas. Athens has a little bit of everything, so it was easy to acclimate. Still, after nearly a year there I was quite ready to leave. My thoughts on Athens may be fodder for another post someday, but not this one. Let’s just leave it that I hope I never have to live in Athens again, and move on.

From Athens we moved to the island of Kos, near Rhodes and close to Turkey. It was fortunate that I had a chance to experience island life, even for a short time. Living full-time on an island ain’t easy, I’ll tell you that (again, perhaps fodder for another post). But having spent most of my life landlocked in Nashville, I couldn’t get over driving across the island and seeing sea all around me. It was spectacular. Island life is all about tourism, and not being part of the tourist industry or a tourist, it was a bit strange. At first I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave the island, even though it was inevitable. Now, I’m happy we didn’t spend another year there.

From Kos we went to the wonderful little village of Litochoro, on the side of Mt. Olympus, about 15 minutes from Katerini. Let me tell you, the minute we arrived, it felt like home. I’d always been fond of the mountains and the sea, and this village sported the majestic Mt. Olympus to the West and the beautiful sea to the East. I experienced my first real Greek snow in our year in Litochoro. The village was a bit difficult to navigate (well, it WAS on somewhat of a slant, after all) but it was scenic, the villagers were friendly, and the local cuisine was delicious. We even found a pizza place that made New York style pizza! And it was just a few minutes to Katerini and only an hour to Thessaloniki, so big city life wasn’t too far away when we needed it. Sure, you couldn’t get everything in this little village. But we had a good life there, aside from the demands of my husband’s work.

And so here I am, just a couple of months after moving to Thessaloniki from Litochoro, finding myself homesick for that mountain hamlet I barely lived in long enough to find it’s character. It is a weird feeling, being homesick for a place that was home for just a year, a place I knew was temporary. I find myself in a state of some opprobrium for feeling this way – I should be enjoying life in Thessaloniki, my husband’s hometown, and not missing Litochoro so much.

I do like Thessaloniki. It is not a vile city like Athens, smaller, more manageable for sure. It is scenic, and there are a lot of conveniences, especially being close to my in-laws. But in Litochoro I felt the comfort of the gods, the blessings of the muses. The wind there was magical, as if made up of some angel dust, and the trees spoke to the world in the gentle breezes, as if telling the stories of thousands of years of life, love, and loss on this quiet mountain.

Thankfully, it is close enough to visit now and then, and maybe someday we can live there, at least part-time, again. For now, my life there still returns in dreams, and I think I can hear Zeus calling me…calling me home.


St. Caffeine said...

Nice job on this. I know The Vol Abroad and I both have touched on this issue in the past. Though I haven't experienced the culture shock you have, I too have thought it silly that I sometimes miss a place that I really didn't stay in long enough to form an attachment.

Glad to see I'm not the only one.

Oh, this is really off the wall, but I never got around to commenting on it when it was topical. I totally understand why you don't miss SunDrop. SunDrop is not a Nashville drink -- it's popularity really is concentrated, in my experience, in southern middle TN and north AL.

Gia-Gina said...

I saw your comment on my blog and tried to send you an e-mail response but it was bounced back to me 3 times. This is what I wrote: If you want to write to me I will write back. If you begin with a short note card, maybe you cna ease yourself into it. Shall I send my address?

Mike said...

Ah, island life! (now I know what a goldfish feels like - damn, I've forgotten)

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Mel - I've got you a cake (at elsokai)

zorkmidden said...

Hi Mel,

I hope Salonica becomes one of your favourite cities, it's my hometown :-) I don't know if this will be your first winter there, for me that's the best season to be in Thessaloniki, it's so miserably hot and humid in the summer. If you get a chance to try "salepi"--it's a hot drink and it's perfect in the winter--there's an old man that walks around downtown, around Agia Sophia, Venizelou, that area, who sells it. I don't think they have it in Athens. Kai den yparhei kalytero koulouri ap'to Salonikiotiko ;-) Never been to Nashville, but my blogging partner used to live there.

I've visited here before, I love your blog and I'm adding you to my blogroll.

Cynthia Rae said...

After living in Italy for only three months, I went to Amierica to visit my family. I couldn't believe how homesick I was for Italy while I was there.

I have to admit that I too, am a little homesick these days. Not so much for Indiana, but for my family. Yesterday I got a box in the mail from my parents, now I miss them even more. Sigh, the life of an expat...

So when is your birthday miss mel?
Buon Compleanno e tanti, tanti auguri!

melusina said...

Yea, I like Sundrop but it wasn't my drink of choice, and you couldn't get it just anywhere in Nashville either.

Gia, I'll see if I can find out why your emails bounced and email you.

Thanks Mike!

Hiya Zorkmidden, my husband knows the salepi guy in Agia Sophia, but he has never tried it before. He says he is wary, haha. I've never had koulouri at all, actually. But one thing Thessaloniki (and I guess Northern Greece) has is bougatsa! Man, that stuff is good.

Cyn, today (the 19th) is my birthday. I'm now officially really old.

traveller one said...

I have this weird type of homesickness- I feel more homesick when I am back 'home' in Canada. I think it builds up inside me as the time approaches for me to return to my expat home. But lately I am feeling a little homesick for Canada- I think it is that Christmas is approaching.

teacher dude said...


I love you blog, btw I was in Litohoro just a couple of weeks ago visiting friends. A nice place but I don't know if I could handle small-town life on a full-time basis. Give me the relative anonymity of a large city like Thessaloniki, anyday.

melusina said...

Hehe teacher dude, I guess I identify more with the Litochoro life because it was more like living in semi-suburban America. Once I get used to Thessaloniki I think (hope) I'll like it. It is just so overwhelming for now, and I didn't live in that big of a city in the U.S. I mean Nashville is big but I don't think it is as big as Thessaloniki. And I didn't live in downtown Nashville either.