I’ve been cranky these past few days. Athens is getting on my nerves–the traffic and the dust and the phone thieves and the tourists (ha!), and seriously how much sunshine does one place need? Can’t wait to get out of here. And also, I hope I can come back next year. I’ve noticed this crankiness sets in every time I’m due to leave a place, and I think it’s a function of separation anxiety. The leaving is inevitable this week–unless I get hospitalized for some reason–and so I prepare myself emotionally by shifting into sour grapes mode. So long Athens, don’t let the door hit you on my way out.
I think of these periods as threshold phases. This period of packing, moving, and adjusting to a new place is fraught with all kinds of weirdness. This week, my meals consist of whatever bits of stuff remain in the kitchen to be used up–eggs, rice, and apples, say. I’m deciding which items of clothing to sacrifice to the baggage weight limit gods in exchange for souvenirs and Greek coffee. How much of Greece can I bring with me? How much of me can I leave behind?
Right now I need to go home. I need hugs from friends and a show at the Ship and a dirty feed of Rod’s chicken & chips with dressing and gravy. I so desperately want a good belly laugh with that handful of people who, even if they only get half of my jokes at least they’re familiar enough to roll their eyes while I laugh at myself. I want to get back and find things where I left them.
But also, going home feels a little bit like bad luck. Seriously, look at the last three times I’ve gone home from long stays away. On a flight home from a winter in Québec, I tore my calf muscle while getting to my seat on the plane. On my return journey from a summer in the Czech Republic, I picked up a respiratory infection that had me getting oxygen at the Health Sciences Centre the day after I landed in St. John’s. Then last year, that gorgeous case of mononucleosis delayed my homecoming from Cyprus and kind of messed up all the fun parts of being at home for a good two months afterwards. Getting home can be tricky. I don’t like the idea that homecoming equals the end of adventure. I need to believe I can leave home again. Coming home unscathed, that part is negotiable.
Am I coming or going, that is the question. Am I leaving Athens, am I coming home? I am both at once. In fact, my stay at home this time will be shorter than the time I’ve just spent in Greece, and shorter than the time I spent in Cyprus before that. You might say that my entire time at home is in fact a threshold between spring in Greece and summer in the UK. Am I coming home or am I just passing through?