The others have been urging me to write a journal entry for the past several weeks and honestly, I don’t think I have been ready to write anything down until now. Since I arrived here on February 20, I have been bombarded with stimulation and have had an extremely challenging time adjusting to this foreign environment. Santorini is a formidably beautiful place and I have been overwhelmed by it. Nearly two years ago, Craig and I discovered this island. We fantasized about moving here to open a bookshop, but to be brutally honest I did not always think that this project was best for me. The last couple years of my life have been a very transitional period and my nagging conscience has persisted like an overbearing grandmother doubting and judging every plan I have made of what do to in the post-university chapter of my life. Through no great accomplishment of my own, I have ended up here. For this, I am profoundly grateful. I owe a tremendous debt of thanks to all you have made this possible: the Rhodes Scholarship committee, the Board of Directors at Teach for America, the affable attournies at Goodwin Procter LLP, Massachusetts State Senator Robert O’Leary, and (I mean this with the utmost sincerity) my dear friend Craig who has worked as diligently, consistently, and as steadily as the sun in laboring this project to delivery since that Dionysian evening when we conceived this bookstore in a gyro and beer-induced frenzy.
I went down to the Island of St. Nikolas yesterday morning for a swim. With Tim already submerged in the silvery blue sea, I stood alone naked on the rocks, gathering up the courage to dive into the water. Wind blows against my skin, provoking thousands of goosebumps to argue with impressive rhetoric to put on my damn clothes. But after a deep, diffident breath, I jump foward and out past the limits of solid Earth. Whoosh!!! I am in the water and it is cold. I yell.
Every inch of my skin burns with firey agitation and awakes with this incredible sensation. It hurts and feels wonderful at the same time. It is as though I have been dormantly numb for an immemorable period of time and I can finally feel. I put on the goggles and snorkel and peer down to the depths of the water. I see scores of tiny fish, archaic gnarly ropes which stretch between nautical caves and the ruins of a forgotten port. Tim soars beneath me in this sun-infused sea, effortlessly gliding like some otherworldly avian reptile. For a moment I peer up out of the water and catch a glance of the carcass of the volcano and the blood red cliffs that stand as haunting monument to the power of this incredible place.
Sappy symbolism aside, the cat is annoying me to no end. I’m trying to eat some left over spaghetti and she cannot keep her pesky whiskers out of my bowl. I have been attempting to train her by throwing her longer and longer distances and although the revenge is sweet, it is unfortunately not working. We have aptly renamed her Cathy, after the monster in Steinbeck’s East of Eden which we have all (almost all) read. I much prefer Athina, our loyal and loving dog who is doing sun salutation yoga poses on the freshly painted terrace.
Our home was used as a set in a French film! (Which is pretty sweet as Chris always, always says (sorry Chris)). After a coffee visit from Maria’s French heart throb France (that’s right, his name is France), we were asked if they could sweep into our place for an afternoon shoot. We agreed and to our good fortune, were paid. We were all very pleased with the introduction of the key grip, a Herculean man who introduced himself, I am Vikus. I am Greek. I am from here. He approved of our project by exclaiming, Fuck, that’s a good idea (Maria’s translation).
There are incredible possibilities here and little by little we are making progress. This past week, I have had the good fortune to learn the art of mixing lime stone white wash. Asvesti, as the Greeks call it, has quasi-religious status here in Oia. Plastic paint has become more and more popular because of its ease and longevity but those who are loyal to tradition and the environment swear by it. We have been a little worried about the blotchy appearance of our front room, but our dear friend Dmitri, the icon painter, has reassured us that it will actualize its whiteness when the warm, dry breezes of spring come. Other than that, the place looks great. The terrace floor has a fresh coat of a cool, blue-grey paint of which I am very, very pleased. The bookshelves are spiraling their way to completion. We sold our first book, Notes From a Small Island (England, not Santorini) to an orthopaedic surgeon from Atlanta. Life is exciting and I feel good.