Greece is fading from me.

My tanned skin is peeling, revealing soft pink patches untouched by the bright August sun beams.

The licorice taste of Ouzo has evaporated from my lips – I lick them incredulously, my tongue searching for the salted stains of the turquoise sea.

I don’t know what moment you can call the place you’re living at a home, but I’ve returned to it. It’s different somehow, even without changing.

Anti-fascist graffiti still clings to the walls, men with dark eyes and dirty trousers leaned against them, taking deep drags of their cigarettes, waiting for the seasons to change.

Yesterday Flex told me there was electricity in the air – the humidity was disturbing his instruments at work. Molecules were acting out of sorts.

“There is magic, can you feel it?” he asked when I joined him on the mostly empty street.

I did.

It’s possible I did because I wanted to, but I was feeling awfully different these days, and the sunset had cast a strange orange glow, the kind you see before a violent thunderstorm. Somewhere in-between the darkness and the light, the buildings began to bend like holograms, and I wondered if they were ever there in the first place.

Greece is fading from me, like the remnants of a reverent dream. With each passing moment the details blend together, becoming more difficult to distinguish, disappearing like the final credits of a film, and suddenly I am thrown back again into reality, with the lingering feeling of hopeful melancholy.

I close my eyes and I see Kalamos of Anafi, the second largest monolith in Europe. A great presence protruding into the sky, a place that one time served as a haven.

I see the endless expanse of sea saturated in ultramarine and sapphire, somehow it was also teal and clear as crystalline. A mosaic of blue, expressing itself in every shade.

I see the sky so full of stars I wondered if they were watching us, if they could only see us when the lights were low, and we were burning out just like them, already dead in the contorted still frames of time.

I see the view from the mountain top, undisturbed by life. The great rocks stood without help, and they stood without the decay of time. And when I was with them, the silence was so strong it consumed me, and I became silent, too. There was nothing left to say.

Greece is fading from me, but Rome feels new again. In its chaos there is an exquisite beauty, the kind that makes you ache. It is the beauty of destruction, for even the great Roman columns will be destroyed one day, but maybe, they too, will become stars – the kind that children wish on.

 

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Dear Mary,

The heat here is abysmal.
I mean Georgia was sticky hot.
And Baltimore was humid like hell.
But neither can compare to this inferno
of Dante’s inspiration.

I can’t seem to recognize summer in Rome.
There are no bon fires in bare-foot backyards.
No scents of BBQ and charcoal grills.
I have yet to see a single fire-fly.
Red solo cup.
Potato salad.
Jello shot.
Or fire-works sale.

I miss air conditioning,
And afternoon thunderstorms –
The way the dark clouds roll in and thirsting leaves turn belly side up.
I miss neighbor-kids gathering on front porches
with artificially stained lips,
sucking on endless freeze pops.
Their carefree, crooked smiles.

I miss dirt-cheap Natty Boh’s.
Highland-town lemonades.                                                                                                 American food because you can pretty much eat anything.
And you can always add cheddar cheese.
And you can always add bacon.
And I don’t even eat bacon.
But still.
I guess I like the option.

 

I miss shamelessly indulging
in very crass things.
Consumer holidays I still rant about.
It seems you can even miss the things you hate –
You could maybe miss anything when it’s been long enough.
I miss Romeo’s ranch dressing.
Indiana, Pa.
Those old coal-mining geezers.
Red-hearted republican men.
We used to fight while I was working,
Serving up Mich-Ultra’s on ice,
Politics and religion.
Bob’s dinner recipes.
“Jules, I have a picture on my refrigerator,”
Mr. Zak told me for the millionth time.
It’s a photo of a young boy
feeding a carrot from his lunch pail to a donkey.
It Says:
“Don’t teach your children to be successful,
Teach them to be happy.”

This was his closing argument.
Almost every time.
Even when we were talking about:
Racism.
Sexism.
Poverty.
And then I would clock out of my shift.

“Get Jules a Redbreast.”
And I would drink a Redbreast.
And it’s still is my favorite whiskey.

But no one calls me Jules anymore.
And I stopped trying to fight
with other peoples
political ideas.
And I haven’t played beer pong in awhile.
And I’ve never seen an Italian shotgun a beer.

But damn it’s hot enough to fry an egg outside,
And I am cracking in this heat.
Just dreaming for a breeze,
And of the places I used to see.

Give the family a kiss.
I miss you girls like hell.
Stay cool and be good.
And never visit Rome in the summertime.