"Europe 2004-05" story # 47

Larissa, Greece           April 14, 2005

I've come a long way from Andorra.
     You might remember me saying that I didn't look so good in the Andorran mirrors. I'd been working and drinking a lot, and the living conditions were unhealthy. (The good thing was I laughed a lot there.)
     Well, I arrived in Greece last Tuesday. I arrived after having hitchhiked nineteen of the previous twenty-two days. I hadn't showered in four days. My hair needed to be washed. I think I smelled okay personally, but the odor of my socks could've killed bugs; big bugs, like beetles. I'd carried my two heavy bags everywhere. And I'd been mainly with strange people, many of whom I couldn't communicate with.
     At age twenty-five, I looked better than ever.
     An older man who works at the library has become one of my best friends in Greece. He commented to me, "You have no money, and you're happy. I have no money, and I'm not happy." The poor guy works seventy hours a week. And he STILL has no money? I wouldn't be happy either.
     My life-style normally provides me with inner peace. Love can sometimes screw everything up, though. When I arrived in Greece, I was still missing my ex-girlfriend when I had spare time to think. What do you do in your spare time? "I like to miss my ex-girlfriend!"
     My experience has been that when you fall in love with someone and then he/she breaks up with you, you won't have peace until you identify the reason why you shouldn't be with that person. For example, if she pushes old grannies into busy roads, you probably shouldn't be with her.
     The other day, I finally identified "The Reason" that I needed to identify. (It wasn't what I imagined it would be.) So, I walk the Greek streets in peace now. In my spare time, I like to play "The Name Game."
     Greek streets are full of two main things: cafes and new clothes. The town of Larissa, pop. 250,000, seems very social. Trendy cafes surrounding town squares are the hot places to be. Males and females alike wear new clothes and make themselves up a lot. The town's four-story buildings are dirty-white, with the laid-back subtropical style of old Florida architecture.
     I'm trying my damnedest to learn Greek. The language has some wacky letters, such as a trident, a swirly-whirl, and the numerical symbol for "pi."
     I actually stay in my room about twenty-three hours a day. People are going to ask me what I thought of Greece. I'll say, "Oh, it was really small. About eighty square feet. And I didn't see too many Greek people there, only myself. But, I can write the Greek alphabet! Watch, I've been practicing my tridents."
     I rented a room in a cheap hotel for three-hundred Euro's a month. One day, I bravely left my room and ventured far, far away and made a friend. Her name's "Lamvrini," or Lambrini. She works in my hotel reception.
     "Lambrini-Bini-Bo-Bini, Banana-Fana-Fo-Fini, Mee-My-Mo-Mini, Lambrini!"
     She's a twenty-year-old student of ballet. She has a little face so white and flat that it could never mean you harm. Strawberry-brown hair reaches down to the bottom of her neck and plushes out, scraping against her collar all day. Her English is okay.
     She quickly made me question why I'd come to Larissa. She said all of the people here are "liars." She said no one dances in the nightclubs, especially not the guys, and everyone watches anyone who does dare to dance. The guys are boring. "Why do I always have to be the one who makes us laugh?" she asked. She has a boyfriend who's too serious and bores her.
     Lambrini does have two things in common with her townspeople. The first time we hung out, she showed me a cafe. And she likes new clothes. She wore a colorful, glossy t-shirt with a race-car on it and yellow-and-black checkered arms.
     Other than that, Lambrini's personality is as bright and scatter-brained as a kid's. Sometimes, it's tough keeping her mind on one subject for long. I like people who are still kids.
     Though twenty, she has her philosophies:
     "I think having a dog keeps you a kid." She considers the stray dogs in town her friends. She says people often buy dogs, have them a while, get sick of them, and leave them on the streets to fend for themselves. She doesn't have a dog, but she wants one when she's independent.
     "I think working with kids all day keeps you a kid." She has known what profession she wants to be since she was ten. Her ex-politican father wants her to go to a good university and learn how to make money. However, she plans to teach ballet to children.
     "It seems like they always want to take something from you. It's okay if they want to give, but they always want to take." She was talking about guys who talk to girls in bars. Some Greek girls like to "take risks" with these guys, but not her.
     "Guys always pay. It's like they think they can buy us." She insisted on paying for her and my drinks when we left the cafe. She likes paying. And I like being paid for, so we're gonna be great friends. (Just kidding. It's my turn next.)
     In a town where the people grow up fast, Lambrini is a kid. I would guess that, among other things, she has never fallen in love. Few things give you a grow-up jolt like having your heart broken.
     She's fun. She's the type of person I'd be attracted to. And I don't want to take anything from her, at least not in that way other guys might. She's also the type who'd be most affected if I left and went to Poland. It's a dilemma. I like companionship, but ...
     ... my kid heart prefers being free.

later -
"Oddyseus-Dyseus-Bo-Byseus, Banana-Fana-Fo-Fyseus, Mee-My-Mo-Myseus, Modern Oddyseus!"

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