Unrequited … but is it love?
The story so far
THIS morning your trolley, with your laptop fastened to it, rattles behind you as it lurches over the cobbles and bricks embedded in concrete.
It’s the one you bought last week, at Oliver Tambo International, in Johannesburg, South Africa.
You get it to put your cabin bags on, and to secure them there, together.
Beats carrying the darn things. And boy, it makes a big difference; it lightens the load.
Today, the walruses of Eressos Square turn to see what the hell’s happening.
They’re used to guys driving around in bakkies shouting things over loudspeakers, from about 8.30am every day.
But a little trolley rattling down the road? No!
You doff your white Panama hat, and they chorus: Yasou!
You smile, and look down. Thank God you’re not limping.
They don’t say yassas — that’s a more formal, respectful greeting, the one you utter in response to their friendly greeting.
You’re on your way to Portakali, as usual, at this time of the day.
When you get there, Alexandra (the Great) plumps cushions around you so you can sit comfortably on a director’s chair that’s too low for the round table. It has a top of blue and terracotta tiles arranged in circular patterns.
Your body clock has kicked in, so you’ve been awake since about 6.30am.
It’s already hot when you get out of bed. The sun kisses the top of the mountain.
You load the washing machine, twice. You do some hand washing.
You make your bed.
You admire your orderliness: the clean dishes, sparkling glasses, the mugs and pots spread out on the sides of the double sink.
Yes, you’re settling in. Nice.
You’ve made tables to stack your papers on, the ones you sent over from South Africa in two boxes.
Your job, for June and July, is to type in these words.
It’s a task that’s going to take you back, very far back. It’s all the words you write in pre-computer days.
That’s why there’s this blog, to keep a bit of you in the present, in the gift of now.
You can’t let the distraction of desire scuttle your plans.
You don’t need to push a river, she says ….
You hold back. No conquest here, no conquering. No silly little love songs.
You are present, she is present. What more can you want?
Your papers, for one, at her place. You’re ready for them, now.
She looks after you, her way.
She pays the rent for you, to I Did It My Way, with the money you sent from South Africa.
She takes you to buy slip-slops, goggles and a snorkel.
You want to explore the harbour mole of antiquity, at Skala Eressos; the harbour wall that was built around the time of Sappho, before Christ.
She introduces you to shopkeepers, and it is she who finds the house for you.
Enjoy your creativity, she says, and goes her own way.
You walk on the mountain with one of your neighbours and his dog.
He speaks Greek to you. You understand only when you walk back alone.
You must close the gate with a flat piece of wood; you prop up a rusty old bit of fencing, to keep the sheep in.
There’s a snake in the grass, a reddish-brown one.
It whips itself away, el pronto. You pick some wild fennel, to calm yourself. Your camera sways in fright.
You take photos in the fading light; the flowers bright in their exquisite beauty; the houses capture, embrace colour; they radiate warmth.
Shy little girls shout: Hellow. How arrr yew? Then run away, giggling. They look over their shoulders at you. They smile.
Little boys kick soccer balls in your path. You steady yourself. You can kick too, you know!
Today, it’s seven sleeps since you’ve been in Greece, in Skala Eressos, and Eressos, on the island of Lesbos.
It is wonderful.
I’ve not had this before, she says.
What it is, she won’t say.
You keep quiet too. Sometimes words cloud the sky.