If you take a photograph just here. The place where the sand meets the dry stone wall, the cracks have now been filled with moss and a decaying limestone grout. A view like this will make the bay bow before you. The right angle where the sky meets the sea with the same lilac haze that blends both into being one. Glassy and glowing at the edges with short bursts of puffy white clouds, where moisture has swirled into the air.
Here the sand looks golden, dark like syrup. Look. It is fringed not by palm but tamarisk trees with their wispy fronds and pollen. In Spring flowers will line the paths, leading you there. In high summer the beach lilies stand out with white delicate scented flowers. Nature has dictated its will here. You can capture it in one single shot. Filling your screen with the view you want to live with, live by and up against. This is what we dream of, isn’t it? Each day we fill the grey space, the blank page seeping into dry bones – to trade it and come home a view like this. Find a stillness that rises at dawn with the sound of the roosters crowing and ends settled in orange fire with the chirp of cicadas in the trees. The twinkle of moonlight reflected on the ripples of waves in the bay, the chuckle of glasses cheering. Isn’t this what you wanted? Just a glimpse.
I had a week of commuting along with my first world problems tucked in a backpack, wedged in the lines of my face, silently seething along with the chunter and shunt of the train tracks late at night. There were slow wet tears just on the edge of sadness. Prompted by a small offering of injustice. The sobbing woman begging with her hands outstretched at Cardinal Place – these glass edged hallowed halls of consumerism like cathedrals of shame, making the city unrecognisable again. Starting over. Bone broth and flat whites, vegan donuts. My friend says we could be walking anywhere. Singapore, San Francisco, Dubai. We are in nowhere-land-London.
Homeless crowding in fewer and fewer doorways. The tent city sprawls at the back of Victoria station. My heart breaks in tiny fragments each day as the gap widens and plays on. The protests in parliament square are seething with comical boredom before angry unrest. Divisions in the lobby. Divisions on the bus. Some days I don’t read the news. I need closed text, bright horizons and to keep looking at that photo.
I came back to the surface, tired and bleary eyed wanting nothing more than the kind of love you find on a Sunday afternoon snuggled on a couch. Warm against the cold outside, a blanket of kindness. I realised I just wanted small things. To be safe, to be warm, to love. The human needs not everyone has in sight. Roll that in your palm, hold a feeling so momentary. Ephemeral.
On a train journey I watched a documentary about the Express Scopelitis. It’s a famous little ferry that connects the small Cyclades line and has been a family run operation on Amorgos since 1953. It’s a cold December when parts of it were filmed. The father is 80 and they show him playing the violin on his wife’s name day. The room full of love and food and song. The boat circles its route in wild storms, barely picking up a passenger at each port. Along the barren line like a duty, delivering supplies and lives. The Captain Giannis tells of his bravery at sea, getting sick islanders to Naxos for medical appointments. The Orthodox priest blesses the boat on St Nikolas day as the boys dive into the sea for the cross under the sharp January sun when all the world looks in perfect focus. It’s one of my favourite boats, having taken it to Donoussa in a storm and Iralkia in a strike I know why the Express Scopelitis is a legend in these islands. It always sails no matter what. Packed with tourists in summer and crammed on at Naxos, Schinnoussa, Koufonisia, Amorgos, Iraklia and Donoussa.
Each island stop a tiny collection of changing lives and fragments of Greece on the edge of nowhere, Aegean. Watching it made me feel nostalgic and homesick. For things I didn’t know, little mysteries spun like webs in that lilac sunset.
All those islands I’ve never been to seem to stack up like postcards on the carousel outside the shop. I’d like to get a chance to collect them – write each one down. Until then I’ll keep that still fragment in my mind.