I’m from California. I learned how to rollerskate at Venice Beach. I camped out beside beachside bonfires with friends. I played in the sand as a child, and wave jumped with friends as a teenager. I learned how to scrape the Santa Monica tar from my soles the way only a local can.
The ocean is part of me in a way I’d never really thought about until it was no longer just a short drive away (in California standards. Here, that kind of drive would be ludicrous).
So the trip to Lesvos, Greece was exciting. Not just because we were there to talk writing and books (check out my Brey blog tomorrow for more on that), but because it was an island in the Aegean. A hot island, no less, which is a departure from usually grey and chilly England, where I actually have a ‘summer fleece’.
And it didn’t disappoint. We were lucky enough to stay with a friend who lives there, and her guest cottage was lovely. The balcony overlooked desert dry hills and the tiny, welcoming village of Eressos. It was utter simplicity, and the pace we’d been living at slowed to a near standstill among the quiet cafes and mallow flowers. Soon, our host had us heading back down the hill to Skala Eressos, the beach village. A long line of cafes, restaurants and tavernas line the beach, with the water only a few feet from the shaded decks. Crystal clear jade waters lapped gently at the shore, showing the rocks and coral beneath as though they’re just waiting to be touched.
It was a quiet, beautiful, haven. It reminded me of the connection I feel to the ocean, of the simple beauty of knowing your neighbors and having conversations that don’t revolve around work or social networking. We nearly hit sheep three different times. We had to watch the wing mirrors in case they scraped the houses along the incredibly narrow roads. Nic got stitches for a deep cut on her finger; the lights at the local urgent care were dimmed and there was no one there but the nurses.
We bought bread from the bakery, veg from the local farmer. We got the most amazing pistachio fro-yo, which, while it looked like something out of a poorly bird, tasted glorious.
And we wrote. We talked writing with people who had lots of different viewpoints. We talked favourite books, not-favourite books, and plans. We sat in the sun and warmed our bones as the swallows played above us.
On our final day I put my feet in the Aegean once more and reconnected with that part of me that ebbs and flows. I felt renewed, relaxed, and ready to go back to real life, which is also pretty damn amazing.
On my birthday, I’m feeling particularly grateful to still be here, experiencing what life has to offer.