The title of this blog post is a shameless pun and it is so very intended because life is about having fun with the little things…annnnnd the big things….annnnnd everything in between. I accept that you may have rolled your eyes. You may have chuckled. I hope that you can forgive me and continue reading.
Location, location, location
I think anyone who has traveled to the same place more than once will understand this post. With every return to a location, another story is stacked in its history. Multiple visits create depth for a place. And each time you go back, you’re attending with different eyes, a different heart, and a different time of life.
The swimming pool in Sidirokastro
During my solo trip to the motherland, I went to my hometown Sidirokastro. Each time I travel back I feel an obligation to pop into this place—even for just one day. This summer allotted three days. I saw family and did a little hike. I also went to the pool, which also feels like an obligation—and a necessity as the temperatures soar and the pool is the only body of water for miles. I walked out of the center of town where one side of the road is lined with the river and on the other side sharp cliffs edge my path. The moment I get into the trees the vibe of my entire being changes. Forest bathing. It’s a thing.
I found a chair and set up summertime camp poolside for a few hours. There was no wifi so I was left alone with my thoughts. Between cooling dips and pages in my journal, I was met with a list of memories of this sapphire gem among the rocks and trees.
The summer of 1983, (I was not quite fourteen) we took a family holiday. The pool was new and we hadn’t seen it yet. The day was very hot and my aunt suggested that we take the afternoon to cool off at this new attraction. Great suggestion, except for the part where I had my period and my old worldly mother didn’t allow tampons or swimming in cold water (if you want to know details just ask) so I was stuck sitting at the edge of the pool. At least I was refreshed from the knees down.
I watched my siblings and cousins play. I sat with my aunt and mom. I had a drink and some ice cream. I walked around looking at things, bored out of my mind. I don’t remember a lot of people there—just us. Memories can be interesting things changing as time passes. I eventually went to the bathroom, mostly because I was bored. I didn’t actually have to go. To my dismay, the toilets were squat toilets. They still are by the way. I quickly finished up my business because—yuck. At the sink, I washed up. And, as I was washing a man appeared in the doorway. A. Man. I was barely a teenager—just thirteen. “Hello, would you like to go for a drink sometime?” He caught me completely off guard. I stared at him, not knowing what to say. Instantly I was nervous. “Would you like to go for a drink with—” He didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence because my wiry and wild aunt appeared behind him with her high healed sandals in hand, waving them like a weapon. Like a weapon. Now if you know anything about ethnic mamas you know that shoes can be very much like nunchucks. “Get out of here before I beat you with my sandals!” She was yelling. She was mad. I was scared but he was horrified. He cartoon-dust-clouded out of that doorway. My aunt came in. “My girl, are you okay? Did anything happen?” I assured her that he simply asked me out but I didn’t even really have a chance to answer him because she came to the rescue.
Her point of view: As the entire group of us were doing our thing she had eyes on everyone, but paid particular attention to this guy, not in swimwear but a dress shirt and pants wandering around. She thought that was odd. She noted that he seemed to go where I went and that didn’t sit well with her. Being a kid I had no idea he was following me. She watched me go to the WC and then saw him follow right behind me. Jumping to action she stated “The child, the child” whipped off her sandals and bolted full speed for the bathroom. What a vigilant good woman! I was too young to be aware. That was my first experience with the pool.
Tadpoles and teens
Roughly four years later I was back in Greece and at the pool. Now I was an almost adult. About 19. I had just finished my first year of University. My friend Marina and her pals were in their last year of high school in this village and making the most of the summer days when they were not on an island with official summer vacations. The whole gang of friends would congregate at the pool. I would tag along just hanging and listening. I felt part of a clan—a good feeling of inclusion. These were soft and easy memories, just pushing gently into new friendships. No creepy middle-aged dudes following us into the bathroom.
Two years later my best friend Cathy and I planned a trip to Europe. London, Paris, and Greece were on the agenda. The trip is a story all its own. Cathy came to my hometown and met Marina and the gang. These friends were now spending their summer months preparing for entrance exams into university. Between books and study sessions they met at the pool, or coffee shop or the bar for drinks. I guess it’s good to keep it all balanced. And they included us—this team of boys and girls from a town in northern Greece. We were made to feel part of the whole as if we had grown up with them. Daily there was laughing and chatting, storytelling, and plenty of drinking and shenanigans. The pool like a watering hole that drew us together, keeping us cool and playful on those hot summer days. I watched my friend fall for a handsome tall Greek boy with broad shoulders and a killer smile. I watched him steal a kiss on the path where the trees canopied when I realized she wasn’t beside me anymore. I giggled and averted my eyes. Good for my friend. Those types of memories are locked in.
Friends and family
We grew up. Some of the gang moved away. Some got married. Some had kids. My sister also married and had children. On a family holiday, her family and I ended up at the pool between the rocks and trees on two different holidays. The children were little—Anna and Peter. On one particular day, Peter channeled his most unruly boy-self. He splashed me when I asked him not to so I splashed him back. What was good for the goose in this case was not good for the gander. Peter burst into tears and I felt terrible. I walked him back to his parents. While we both explained what happened like naughty fighting children Kate and Dave listened attentively and announced their judgment. Oh, parents! What a job. They were fair. The lifeguard, who was posted beside us turned to me and asked if the boy was mine. No. I was the auntie. Was the boy okay? Yes, basically. His feelings were hurt. And then the lifeguard asked for my phone number. I didn’t have a phone. He asked for my social media information. Persistent. Dave credited my nephew for being an accidental wingman. Pete, in his little boy innocence, needed an explanation. Once he got his definition of wingman, again like a little boy, was a bit grossed out by the potential of this scenario. The lifeguard and I never met again but we became friends on social media and I watched him live a positive and good life from the screen of my digital device. And like the transcience of the social media world, he is now gone—and I hope happy.
I’ve been to the pool with friends, family, visiting with adults while their children were in swim lessons. I’ve sat quietly under trees killing time, staying cool. Reminiscing. I have had so many combinations of memories in this place—this magic wishing well of a man-made watering hole. I treasure the space and the stacked recollections of so many kinds of emotions. If this place were no more I would miss it immensely. For now, I look forward to the next time I am there—with whoever will join me.
As always, thank you for reading lovelies.