Σάββατο, 26 Απριλίου 2014

Happiness. (Draft)

As we mature and as the time goes by, each year leaves us marked with joys and scars on our minds and souls. It is up to us and it depends on our character what we wish to do with the newfound knowledge and wisdom that comes with every wound, each individual moment. Thus, when it comes down to it, our past is what will determine how far we are willing to go for the freedom of our souls. For happiness is not simply a state of mind one acquires with time and turmoil. It is not a reward at the end of a difficult race. Happiness is the place we arrive at when we free our lives and hearts of what weighs us down, it is a moment in time when we can breath in enough air to make us invincible and, ultimately, free. 

Σάββατο, 19 Απριλίου 2014

The Sky in Athens

    It was almost the middle of July and the city of Athens felt like a boiling pot of cement, cars and people running from the sun. Sweat would drop off of working men's foreheads on to the scorching pavement and turn into mist. A trip to the city would normally be exhilarating, a nice change of routine, away from the island where everyone knew each other. Here you could be anyone you wanted, you could do anything and no one would say a thing, or at least anyone you knew. Yet this time was different. I am  sure you are wondering what sort of devil possessed me to leave the beautiful beaches of my island for the burning streets of Athens, in the middle of my vacation. You see, a great opportunity was given to me to be the DJ at one of the best up and coming roof bars in the city. 

      It had all started approximately two years ago when my love for music and constant research for new artists and sounds resulted in meeting a person who would play a massive part in my young life. Stavros and I first met while he was working at a bar back on the island, decorating our summer nights and cocktails with the most beautiful vibes I had ever heard. I was dumbfounded by the simplicity and magic of the tracks he chose, it was as if a whole new world of genres I had never heard before opened up before me. A blend of Balkan, Americana, French jazz and bluesy sounds all meshed with pops of electronica and atmospheric house notes. A friend of mine introduced us to each other and, though the encounter was short and basic, impressions had been made. 
      We did not speak for almost a year and a half after this incident until one night, while visiting in the States, I was searching and posting music on the internet. He happened to notice the tracks and we began talking, the first step in a journey that went a long way through highs and lows, storms and summers. Our relationship developed as the months went by, especially when I returned to Greece, in spite of the facts that we lived in different states. The invitation for me to visit him in Athens came only a couple of months later and I now
 acknowledge that it was the best decision I could have made at the time. I arrived at the city, stepped off the bus and lit a cigarette I had been craving for hours. I sat on a bench, my luggage aside, and waited for Stavros to arrive and pick me up. The anxiousness and fear that we might not match, we might not fit, that this decision was a mistake kept building up until the moment I saw him walking towards me. The moment he hugged me and welcomed me to town was when I knew, this would work. That night we went out to my favorite places in town, walked the damp streets of Athens in March, while holding hands and coming ever so close to each other. We talked and talked until all our walls had fallen, until my cigarette pack was empty and it was time to go home. The next few days, until I returned to the island, he took me everywhere, introduced me to places I had only dreamed of. Underground bars filled with people, culture and artistic vibes flowing through the doors, paved walk streets underneath the Acropolis packed with night time walkers and musicians, cafés overflowing with the smells of freshly ground coffee and warm cookies. My love and curiosity for the capital had never been greater. 
     After I went back home, we kept in touch daily, our relationship kept growing stronger and our love developed by the second. It had become clear that he was going to be the one to teach me many things, to show me many beauties, music being the one that I would get to know the best. Since he was and still is a music engineer, producer and disc jockey on occasion, he had more to teach me than anyone I had met up to that point. There was more to him than his magnificent sounds, more than his work. He was a romantic at soul who wanted to show me the world and if possible, give me part of the life I wanted to have. After a year and a half of us being together, travelling back and forth, even after I moved to the states, we kept going strong. 
     Another summer came along, yet this one came packed with opportunities and experiences that would change me. I had kept contact with quite a few of Stavros' friends and coworkers in the music world who happened to notice the music I listened to and posted quite often. Little did I know that they would suggest I should DJ myself at the same bar Stavros did. A few days later the offer was official and I was on my way to Athens, nervous and excited as ever. As I mentioned, I had visited the capital several times so, I had seen most of the things there are to see in town and not much could excite me anymore. No one could have prepared me for what I was about to see and feel at "Loukoumi" Bar. Located on the roof of a downtown building in Athens, just minutes of a walking distance away from the Acropolis, was the most magnificent view of the night sky I had ever seen. It is quite difficult to describe the feeling one gets when looking upon the Acropolis at night, gazing as its ancient stones blend into the view of the cement towers and traffic of the city. Even the people on the roof were different. Each and every individual contributed to the magic of the moment. They were artists, business-men, school teachers, musicians, even builders and plumbers and in spite of how different they were, the music and the view, the place, brought us all together, all comfortable in our own skins, loose, free to love and flirt and laugh and make the most of this summer night. As we fell further into the night and I had the honor of accompanying those of Athens who hadn't left on vacation to some island, my music choices kept adding to the magic of the moment. I could hear the people humming the melodies and I could feel them turning their heads with curiosity every time an unknown track would play. I would turn to Stavros and watch him sip at his mojito
 while I had another drag of my cigarette and chose the next song.  Eventually, the cars on the street lessened and the occupiers of the roof became fewer, we all turned quiet, silenced and distanced ourselves for a couple of minutes at a time. Just long enough for the music to completely take over the place, long enough for our souls to digest and memorize the beauty. The Parthenon stood there, ancient and proud, lit by the moon, its sole purpose to remind us of who we are, to remind us that we were all magnificent and majestic at heart. 
   We had succeeded, I was complete and we were happy. And what was mind boggling about this, was that the people could feel it through the music, they could feel it in the atmosphere, that this was the one place in the world they needed to be at that moment. To this day, even though Stavros and I didn't last the test of time, we cherish these nights like treasures and look forward with all of our heart to the summer nights in the boiling capital, nights that will come year after year, every summer that comes 
     Telling this story reminded me of how lucky I have been, to have experienced such moments, to have met and spoken to extraordinary individuals that molded me as a person and offered me opportunities that changed me while offering me a taste of the finer things in life.
 And if there’s something that changed in me the most, it was that I now knew what happiness and completion looked like. I had realized that they are an arm’s reach away, they are attainable and they are here. After this night I decided to never settle for anything less for the rest of my years. My new goal was never to forget to stop and listen carefully to the symphony of the world, the cars, the voices, the waves that crack on a beach.  They were all notes and sounds that I could make my own, allow them to shape me every day into who I am.


Nostalgia.

There are several days in my life when I feel like I can not take another step further, I feel as if the weight of the entire world has been placed upon my shoulders and the routine to which I have become accustomed, has become overbearing. It is in these moments that my memories, the most valuable and cherished treasures in my mind, come to save the day.
It was this feeling that had hit me directly in the gut on an idle Friday afternoon, while smoking my last cigarette, on my way to what was predicted to be yet another hectic night working at the mall. I could hear the drops of snow melting away through my slightly open window, hoping that once they evaporated they would take all the ugliness by the hand and bring back the beauty of long, sunny, summer days.
I really did miss those days with every molecule in my body, every inch of my heavy soul. I missed them, not in the same way that children do because they miss their vacation, but because I could feel human again, carefree, enjoying the privilege of the ocean being the first and last thing I saw.
This feeling I had was nothing other than my good old friend, nostalgia.
In ancient times, the Greeks had defined nostalgia as a sort of pain caused by the unsatisfied will to go back in time, though to me it is not so much a pain as it is a set of healing memories to treasure as if they were the one most significant existence in my head. And if I could point out one single memory I cling to the most, it will be the one of the sea, every time. The memory of the ever-flowing movement of the waves, crashing on my tanned toes as I gazed away into infinity.
  Having been born and raised on an island, the sea has grown deep roots within my soul. I have come to believe that the it harbors this sort of magic within its depths, a kind magic that has enough power to heal wounds in the most damaged minds, in the same way salt and iodine burn and treat the scars on my skin. I would stare into the ocean while it carefully sculpted the inside of my soul, while it ever so slightly chiseled away the rough edges of my character and expanded my horizons. Like a mother, it would calm me down, comfort me and nourish my psyche. It had the strength to change a little more in me each and every time I look into its limitlessness, each time I witness it being changed by the shores, the rocks and the winds. In the meantime, a nexus between me and the ocean would develop, a bond so strong that my heart languishes when I go too far into land, the same way flowers do without their water, the same way people do when they're alone. 
   The further away I am driven from the sea by life, the louder it calls for me to come back. Oh, and when it calls, I run, run like I never ran before. For when the soul cries for peace I must listen, I must obey. So, I run, drive, even for hours at a time, but there's nothing like the refreshing pungent, salty wind against my pale winter flesh, nothing like the wind that blows my hair away and floods my nostrils with the smell of everything beautiful at once. There's nothing quite like the view of blue and white and tan all put together in a symphony on the canvas of the world. It is the sight of life at it's finest expression. I can not entirely grasp or explain what it is that I find so soothing about the water's repetitive, incessant movement. I simply can not pinpoint what it is that overwhelms me with a unique kind of tranquility every time.
   Certain people may think this is all overly romantic, perhaps silly. I can guarantee though, that these people too, have something that makes them feel the same way. It might not be the sea, but it might be a sunrise, a forest, a lake, a cigarette, a certain person. I don't let them fool me, I know far too well that they also have a place to which they are strongly tied, that runs in their bloodstream, it is contained within the air in their lungs and it brings them back to life just when they are about to give up.
  This is nostalgia, operating at full speed on afternoons like this one. The only thing that keeps me up and keeps me going. A set of memories meant to heal and support the very structure of my mental health. It hit me quite abruptly, like it always does when there is a need to be reminded of the beauty the sublime can unravel, when I need to be reminded that I might not be that far away from home after all.

The Drag of Waiting.

 There are several kinds of cigarettes consumed in a smoker’s life, depending on the occasion. There are morning cigarettes, the one or two smokes you have when first waking up in order to gain back your senses and give yourself just enough of a poised breath to make your gears spin in the right direction. There are the fun cigarettes, the ones you smoke to fill your lungs with that same old heave mist in the midst of dancing and laughing at the top of your voice. There are various cigarette butts leftover from different times, each and every one of them just as significant as the last. This time though, I will only attempt to speak about the waiting cigarettes.
   I am referring to the fags left behind from the countless times you waited for things to come, life to change and people to show up. You waited for a friend to arrive while sitting on a bench in the middle of your city’s central square, surrounded by urban noises of cars racing and dogs barking. You might be waiting for your tramcar at the stop so, you light up take a couple drags and there it is, like a well-wound clock, arriving to take you away. You could even be waiting for the time to pass on the top deck of a ferry boat, your hands holding on to just a book and a pack of “death sticks”. Other times, you stand aro
und, listening carefully for an answer, outside a hospital, a job, outside a house or a bar. Many a times have you waited for an explanation from a friend, a lover even someone who is a mere stranger. You have patiently lingered for you beloved one to answer, to explain. You stand by expecting them to respond, to rise to the occasion, to feel what you are feeling. You long for them to understand.
  Have you ever waited for a storm to pass? I can recall countless cigarettes I lit, standing outside the kitchen door with my mother screaming in anger, tearing the house, and with it my soul, apart on yet another nervous breakdown. I was used to this happening from her alcoholism days, days when I used to fill ashtrays to the very last of their capacity. When storms like this one hit my home, I went to the ocean in the night’s small hours and I smoked one cigarette after another while silently waiting for the sun to hike its way out of the water and into the morning, cherry-colored skies. Once the new day had officially began, I had one last drag and headed home to where life and people did not wait for pretty sunsets and human feelings. 
  Though the deadly effects of smoking are well-known to all smokers, there seems to be something so soothing about the greyish smoke and the slight burn it leaves on the throat. Every drag becomes an eternity and it sits on the bottom of your lungs and drowns you. It keeps your mind and soul occupied while each indulged drag is poised just enough to make you forget about the seconds
 flying by, allowing you to peacefully exist, even if it is only for a slight moment in time. For that drag and that moment you simply stand there, your next smoke in hand and a set of lungs filled with smoke you refuse to let out. Every little cloud you let go, a symbol of yet a bit more time wasted waiting, a few more minutes spent lingering, another tiny piece of anguish and throe and another set of questions gone unanswered. 
   Even though I have gradually become only an occasional smoker, there has not been a single sunset or sunrise that I have not enjoyed in the sweet company of a cigarette. There is not one good essay that I have written without leaving an ashtray over-flowing with fags and dust. There has not been a single time I returned to my home town that I did not celebrate in the company of cigarettes, shots of Greek raki and missed faces. In each of these situations though, even if it is not quite obvious, I have waited for the sun to change the colors of the sky with reds and blues. I have waited for inspiration to flow through my fingers and storms to pass. Even when I return to my home, hug after hug, cigarette after cigarette and shot after shot, I am still waiting for love to walk through the door and make my twenty-hour travel all worth-while. 
   At the end of the day, it perhaps is not about the amount or kind of cigarettes smoked but about remembering the times I have been through, the times I was about to give up and instead took another drag and kept going.
 

Κυριακή, 9 Μαρτίου 2014

Rest easy

Maybe, just maybe, if you detach yourself from sad events for long enough, if you place yourself at a certain distance from them, you can distort reality. Your mind can trick you into forgetting, acting like nothing has happened. Pretending that while your far away, everything remains the same, people and places don't change. Uncles don't pass and houses don't  crumble. Perhaps if you act like nothing has happened, you can trick yourself into believing the lie. 

Rest easy Theio and forgive us for not honoring you as we should have. 

Σάββατο, 1 Φεβρουαρίου 2014

Tears, they keep running down her cheeks, there's no stopping them now.
It some how seems that the whole world keeps sinking, it's crumbling you know, and you can't even catch a breath.
"Mom, why does it have to be so difficult? Why does it have to be so hard? There's always someone sad, there's always a problem creeping around the corner ready to knock down everything we've ever built and turn it into dust and pieces. Why does life suck so bad?"
That was the final hit.
A punch in the gut,
knocked her over, she can't get up.
So, why?
Why does it have to be so tough? It's as if the only way to survive is to become cold and dead inside, then things won't hurt, then you won't care.
Carrying fake smiles and laughs around in your pocket, in case you need them.
Pulling out the shreds of strength you're left with, to patch up other people's wounds, to support them.
Carrying through, day after day, till you can't do it anymore.
Or until you just don't care.

Δευτέρα, 26 Αυγούστου 2013

Alive

I've been sleeping.
for far too long now.

I'm awake now, you know?
It just happened, on one more of those boringly idle Monday nights, the ones you just hate.
It just happened.
I'm alive.