Monday, July 21, 2008

Love, life, and homesickness

I don’t know what has been up with me lately. I’ve been a little off. Off kilter, off my rocker, off side. I’m sure it is just a momentary lapse of seasonal dysfunction (that disorder most people get in the winter I seem to get in the summer). A big part of it, however, is good old fashioned homesickness. As an expat you expect a good dose of the ailment once in awhile, although it doesn’t occur as often as I would have expected. It is just that when it does happen, it happens big. I find myself having fantasies of life in America, with a good job and all the conveniences of American life. Hell, I don’t even care where in America I live, anywhere would be fine, as long as it isn’t one of those desert states (my apologies to people who love the desert states, it just isn’t my thing).

But then I think that I wouldn’t want to leave our beautiful house here, and international moves are the biggest pain, and my husband would have to take the MCAT (or whatever the hell the medical licensing exam is called in the U.S.) if he were to practice medicine there, and all the little things about Greece I would miss if I moved back to the U.S. It is weird having this sort of duality about home – now it seems that both Greece and America are “home” to me, so how can I ever pick between them? I can’t even imagine what it is like for expats who have lived in several different countries.

This coming weekend we are planning a short trip to Athens – the city where my expat life started – and I suppose that could be one reason things are coming together in my mind the way they are. I’m sure my parents visit this spring didn’t help matters much either. I dread going to Athens the way most people dread going to the dentist, and to be honest I’d send my husband alone if it wasn’t our koumbaros who is getting married. Not because I feel I owe him, but because I want to be there to share his special day and wish him well as he starts his married life. I just wish he wasn’t doing it in Athens. I can’t really pinpoint why I hate Athens so much, but it might have something to do with the harried-ness of the people there. It was as if life wasn’t being lived as much as endured. That kind of environment can suck the will right out of anyone.

Hopefully I’ll be back to my cheerful, snarky self before too long.


Anonymous said...

I LOVE Athens!! I can totally understand your dislike for the "harried" lifestyle but I have my fondest memories of life in that magical, ancient city.

It's normal to reminisce about the country you left behind and missing your old life, friends and family there BUT the USA is not the country that you once knew. It has changed a lot and NOT in a good way.

I would trade places with you in a heartbeat!! I used to live in Athens and I miss it dearly...including the harried lifestyle and all the the other drawbacks associated with life in a a frenzied, polluted and overpopulated city.

I guess the grass is always greener... :)


Rositta said...

Back in 1997 my sweetie thought we might move to Greece. He went for 6 months to check out possibilities and I stayed here. When I joined him to check it out myself I said "nope, it's a deal breaker". Cannot and will not live in Athens. He came home, smart man and now we just visit. After two weeks I'm ready to come home but we stay for two months. I'm a nervous wreck by the time I get home....ciao

Lulu Barbarian said...

Hey Mel, best wishes on weathering the mind-storm, or maybe it's just a mind-doldrum. Anyway, good luck in Athens.

Cheryl said...

First, have a great time! Next, you'll really love coming home to your quiet home on the mountain. And finally, I know how you feel, wouldn't it be great if we could somehow combine the best of both worlds? You know, have our cake and eat it too? :)

Anonymous said...

Where in Athens will you be Mel? I'm just being nosey. I don't mind Athens but that's mainly because I don't really have to deal with it. I live in Kifissia (one of the northern suburbs) and work in Halandri (again a northern suburb) so although I technically live in Athens... I don't go there much.

What I will say about Athens is that its too hot at the moment. I'm sat here next to an open window but the air just isn't moving. We need a breeze... could you please bring one with you.

melusina said...

Popi - I guess I should clarify. I love and respect Athens' ancient heritage. There is a spot in the center - on Sophocleos street - that is the most amazing place in the world. I guess when they were digging to build the National Bank building they uncovered part of the ancient wall, and on one part, you can see actual cart tracks. They've glassed it over so you can stand right over that spot that some cart was passing some two thousand years ago. And I think that sort of thing is amazing. But Athens itself is too big, too crowded, and too busy to be thoroughly enjoyable. Crime has risen exponentially since I first moved here. And delivery people (with furniture, TVs, whatever) won't even deliver stuff to your actual apartment, they leave it on the ground floor!

Rositta - I can imagine. I'm used to Greece now but living in Athens would be a deal breaker.

Thanks Lulu

Cheryl, I totally agree.

Ellas, the wedding is in the Neo Psykiko area. Not sure exactly where we are staying, though. And I'll try to bring a breeze.

Anonymous said...

hi Mel - I guess since I currently live in a crowded, polluted and crime-ridden North American city, I find Athens alluring, exciting and safer by comparison - but NOT cleaner. I failed to mention in my previous post that I have been to Athens recently for vacation, and I do know the place on Sophocleos St. that you refer to. You just can't find that splendor in my city. Also, crime has risen exponentially in my current city as well. Mostly gun related crime brought on by youth from less affluent neighborhoods. This is not the city I once knew. I'm tempted to leave and move elsewhere for my future safety. The sound of living in Athens seems so irresistible right now in comparison.


Laurie Constantino said...

Oh, I know just the feeling that you describe. I'm thinking life would just about be perfect if I could spend six months in Greece and six months in Alaska. It's so very hard to live full time in a different culture. Yet, when I've been away from Greece too long I start itching to be back. Sending good thoughts your way, Laurie
PS: You are so right about that spot on Sofokleos - it's truly wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Hello! Funny you mention this. I've been following your blog and some others from Thessaloniki because they make me feel a little bit less homesick. I'm from Pylaia and lived in London, Tokyo, Paris, Huston, Dubai, India, Kuala Lumpur for much of my adult life because of work and despite having left Thessaloniki when I was 18, I still regarded it as home. Dare I say some of your comments about the weather or the pictures make me reminiscent and I won't hide that my eyes well up and long to be back.
I do daydream of going back home and live there, have a frape in the morning and a spanakopitta, complain about the heatwave and the aircon, meet my friends in Paralia for a drink in the evening.... but it's impossible right now as my job (Gas and Oil) simply does not exist in Thessaloniki.
So, I keep on daydreaming and feel homesick.
I guess it's only natural.