There was an August, years and years ago, that I spent on the island of Crete. In my Peugeot 504 (with yellow headlights!) and with another car-full of friends, in my heavenly blue one-piece swimsuit which I practically only took off to sleep, sleeping on beaches all together on a big black spread, not a roof above my head for the whole month if you don’t count brief visits to shops for food and the car roof and a tree when we found one.
The most peaceful month of my life. As it was coming to a close, my friends were getting jittery, missing this and that, anxious to return home. Not me, I could have had it forever: figs, blackberries, lamb, fish (= psarì, psomì = bread, krasì = wine, most useful Greek words), the sea!, the hot wind from Africa in the south of the island that dries up your mouth, the sensation of a return to civilization after spending a few days in a bay without a soul in sight, and as you near a city you realise your swimsuit will not quite suffice, and you hop in the car to change into your long blue-on-blue dress which you bought in a hippie shop in the previous town (NO SIZE) and leather sandals and your sea-wild hair turn you into an instant goddess.
There is a little island, to the left of Crete, Elefonisi. A little ferry took our cars there. We made it to the top of the tiny island and laid out our spread next to some sleeping turkeys. I made pasta with beans and some dried meat which may have been the reason for my upset stomach and troubled sleep. I remember taking a bit of every medicine I had with me: a black carbon pill, a pill against heartburn, one for sore throat and one aspirin. I never take pills so as I was popping them I discussed it with my body, imploring it to take them seriously and calm the fuck down as I’m on holidays.
As I stirred from sleep the next morning, I heard voices whispering as if trying hard not to wake us. I peeked towards the group of villagers standing by the turkeys, looking at us, chirping among themselves. I thought: Oh, well, let’s do this. I stood up in my Kelly’s family night dress (as a friend considerately nicknamed it) and slowly moved towards the group.
When they saw me approaching, their expressions lit up. A woman extended her hands and said in broken, efficient, Greek English which I came to love so much and use it now with the Italians: “Thank you for choosing our village to sleep in.”
Another August is approaching. Cicadas are the same. The wind is less strong and less hot, neither is heat as fierce, but it’s breezy and scorching all the same. The greenery is more but the produce is similar and tastes so good. The Italians are not the same as Greeks, but their pride is similar. Olive oil too. The calm is here (until it’s not and ferragosto starts).
The pack is different, and this time it’s mine. I have the roof, and the car too (not a thirsty old peugeot but a sensible diesel one). I’ve yet to sleep on the beach but I sleep every night in the arms of the man I love.
And I have it, eternal holidays, eternal August. It could have never happened, easily. Thank you for giving it to me.
(Written in July 2013.)