Friday, April 1, 2005

A letter to Pantelis - Waxing Sentimetal of my time spent in Athens.

....Right now, I need to tell you that I am really longing for a freddo cappuccino metrio. Won't you come to New Mexico with your freddo machine and rescue me? I have been so nostalgic for my time in Greece lately that I have even resorted to visiting places that serve a "Greek Salad" just to partake in a semblance of expression of my once adopted home.

I am so envious -- you have right in front of you -- right at your finger tips -- the changing of weather from cool to warm and soon to hot and the promise those hot days hold for visits to those idyllic nearby islands and the gift those cool seas give on warm days. That time is so close to you -- surely you can taste it, smell it, nearly touch it.

I, on the other hand, look out my window and see the ice cold wind howling from the northern plains -- bringing snow and ice and no thoughts of the possibilities of warm islands and refreshing seas anytime soon. Old man winter continues to tease us here at 7000 feet above the high desert plains of New Mexico. The ground is still bare and brown and the trees shift lifeless in the wind.

From time to time a scraggly tulip might raise its red head above the hard, cold earth and surely seems horrified at what it sees. Monet's irises are still a month away. The brief but dramatic fruit blooms of the many apple, apricot, peach and pear trees are six weeks away. The French lilacs that burst upon Santa Fe in a profusion of purple and perfume the air of the city with the fragrance of spring are two months away. How does one having so recently lived among olive trees and orange and lemon trees and scarlet poppies endure such a long winter?

All I can dream about now is being in Greece -- in Athens in April and taking the ferry over to Aegina or Hydra for the day and walking along the geraniums and poppies and eating squids caught fresh from the same sea and chasing it with a Mythos or a lovely bottle of red wine in which I can pronounce the Greek letters but have no idea to the translation.

Instead, should I be dreaming of Italy in August -- when I will actually be there? Pretending it is Athens? We do not get to choose the cities where we work. The cities rather choose us. Torino is the location of the 2006 Olympic Winter Games -- and so therefore it is to Torino we must go. I suppose in a different situation -- home could be Milan. I rather like the idea of living in a smaller city. I will be two hours from Geneva and two hours from Nice and Cannes. I will go to France for lunch and perhaps to Switzerland for dinner. Or better yet, I will just stay in France. I will go to Genoa for the perfect plate of pesto. I will sup on the Ligurian coast and remark that the grilled squid is not as tender as in Aegina or that the Octopus is not as supple as in Milos or that the white wine does not have the richness of those in Samos. Will I look out across the sea and be sad that Turkey no longer rises in the distance like some fantastic belly-dancer beckoning me over to enjoy her exotic riches? Will I weekend in Florence and visit David and remark that there were more handsome boys in the Zappion?

It seems we are never quite happy with what we have and instead hold on to memories of what has past or create hopes of what the future may bring. That, Pan, is why I am so profoundly happy and so proud that you have recovered and you are living now in the moment and enjoying it all, as you can, and taking advantage of the new shape -- you the Greek God that you are -- you've morphed into. I hope you are rewarded with immeasurable joy and endless ecstasies that life can bring from time to time.

I will plan to see you in Athens (or better yet Crete) in the fall after the bloom of living in northern Italy has withered a bit and the Gods demand my return to Greece. In the meantime -- will you give my regards to those blood red poppies and to the boys in Zappion and to the Octopus drying on the line in some nearby-faraway port, and to the closeness of Turkey and to those ancient walls of Herodus Atticus where I saw Mario and others sing from their hearts and to the real Greek Salads (Ensalata Xoriatiki) -- the salads of the villages and to that little city that clings to the side of the Acropolis with its narrow, winding footpaths and to the noise and smell of Piraeus and to her promise of travels to romantic islands so close but so different and to the Number 13 bus -- my most reliable means of escape from Neo Psychico into the pulsing, beating heart of Greece where anything could and did happen. Will you watch Eurovision for me as I remember Cyprus where I saw Eurovision for the first time? And when you see that Ukrainian Ruslana remember Sakis Rouvas for me.

Where is Sakis Rouvas when we need him? Please send him to New Mexico where he could rip his shirt of from the top of Taos Mountain and Shake-It -- maybe even shake spring out of winter. We could use that. We could use a little shaking up around here. Please give me regards to that many syllabled modern day Hera - Gianna Angelopoulo-Daskalaki. What must it be like to read the Athens Times now without having to trip over that name or see pictures of the she-man as she contemplates eating another human? Is she president of the country yet?

Finally, one last request. Please go to Kolonaki to that famous cafe with the green awning on the platia and order one of those over-priced freddos and look up toward Lycabetos and toast to the Gods who on immortal whims brought us two mortals together, you and I, even if briefly, to form a friendship that will surely last a lifetime.

I miss you Pan -- and until we meet again -- wish you, as always, all the best. You deserve it!



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