That evening really reminded of a multiple series of commercials. Everything seemed bright, shiny successful and guaranteed for full-frontal with great feelings; or maybe I just saw it that way; the place, the location, the people, the atmosphere, the temperature. Everything. Athens at its best. I had planned very few things, because grace and luck prevails when you meet loved ones. I had decided just two weeks in advance –after months of thinking, jumped in the plane, had an unnecessarily long and tiring trip with delays at some skies and some airport, but had finally landed. Already in March I –we- had received a sweet message inviting to a femme-fatale’s birthday, a woman juicy and succulent as a summer peach. I just could not not go. That friend alone was enough to make the trip worth; and if nothing else my learning so far is to cherish and pursue the opportunities to meet rare people.
I didn’t want to spoil the surprise, for I hadn’t mentioned my arrival to anyone but to two other jewel-friends and waited patiently few minutes under her apartment till other invitees arrived. I sneaked in with another couple and squeezed in the elevator. I was already smiling forecasting the moment our eyes would meet. And there she was, as I expected; a vision in her purple dress with her purple shoes and a big smile framed by her blonde curls. Ah, but honestly aren’t women so beautiful? How can they change from kittens to bitches and from sweet to rough? No man can achieve that unless a male chameleon.
Her eyes shined so much and she was childishly happy to see me. Bingo, mission accomplished! She took me around, introduced me to everyone, portrayed me as the precious friend; she really spoiled me and I enjoyed it, because she introduce me to beautiful people (the beautiful people). I talked to lips that waterfalled me with lyrical words and new thoughts and inspiring images, and new new new things. I briefly escaped to lean on the balcony overlooking Akropolis; the epitomy of the Athenean sky. It is simple, cities without landscape or without lookouts and miradors lack significantly, independently of the national GDP. How can you not want to see, gaze and grasp the whole city? See where others live, breathe and grow, where is the green, the gray, the blue, the corners, the rounds and the spheres; I don’t know, things like that. The heart, the arms, the legs and the head of a city. If you can’t see this and feel it, your world is as small as the dead end of the neighborhood road.
I met many wonderful people with clear eyes and good dreams. All comets and stars meeting for a night in the same starry sky. But most of all I was impressed by her parents. You know discussion you might have with people you meet for the first time; awkward and most likely empty. Empty in feeling but full of social convention. I hate those and at that night I had rightfully forgotten my plastic smile some 3000 kilometers away from the venue. My brief discussion with her mother, revealed a kind nature, a sober woman who within 3 minutes analysed to me the values of theatre and its evolution in the area the last two decades. Impressive. A speech full of passion about the apotheosis of human mind through the art shown on a stage; a stage that might be minimalistic but is not necessarily stripped of its quality. Bang! What a woman.
But most, I fell in love with her father. I will admit it wasn’t love at first site, for the father has lived his life in his (probably) 70s and life has lived him (as) well. Inspired by the easiness and rapid excitement from the discussion with the mother, I introduced myself and briefly explained how I met his daughter. Then, I stepped shamelessly on the sole verified information I had about him, namely his entrepreneurial skills. I just fired the question “You actually started your career in the post-WWII period. How was it to start in post civil-war Greece?”. Questions like that are still taboo, even after 50+ years.
“ Oh, that was difficult. You know, those were the years that for every job you would apply or start with you needed a Certificate of Social Belief (Πιστοποιητικό Κοινωνικών Φρονημάτων). Now, there was an Authority, that would sent its agents to your neighborhood, your village, the university your social circles and would question and gather information about you and confirm you are not a Communist. I happened to have the same name and surname as an uncle of mine. And this uncle –like every decent patriot- was part of the Resistance against the Nazis.”
Και αυτός ο θείος όπως ΚΑΘΕ ΓΝΗΣΙΟΣ ΠΑΤΡΙΩΤΗΣ –αυτό το σημείο, Τίνα, ο πατέρας σου το τόνισε- ήταν στο ΕΑΜ. For a split second, I must admit, when I heard the word “patriot” I got scared of the answer I would receive; having grown in a leftish environment we were not using this word a lot, and I was brainwashed with the post civil-war, post-dictatorship perception that I should not to talk a lot about these things too much outside the “red” neighborhood. But the father had more to say.
“So you can understand; I got stigmatized and there wasn’t much to do about it. You know, we were poor back then, but having good fun. Because life, I tell you, is about having fun and falling in love. We had old socks with holes, and we would share cigarettes. But we would always wear ties, because girls liked ties. I had one jacket, but I would wear this one, because girls liked jackets. Then I moved to Switzerland and from there I saw a lot of things. Different world to make business.
…business… Switzerland… Europe… post-war… poverty… fun… music… return… motherland… Dad… lips… talking…. sound… traveling… traveling…
I also visited Holland; The Hague, Rotterdam; Leiden, Amsterdam. I saw Holland at its prime time, because I went there when my prime time was on. I fell in love for the first time in and with Holland. I visited the country just when I should have done, when I was young and I was absorbing energy and beauty like a sponge. Love, you know, love. (Έρωτας, καταλαβαίνεις? Έρωτας…) There was a spark in the eyes and love in the air. You could smell it and you could see it.
That’s what worries me about the young people today. I walk on the streets and I see no love. Youngsters are not interested in each other, how is this possible? They are not interested in falling in love and their eyes are lifeless and sparkless. I just don’t get it. Youngsters not going after love (mumbled and shook his head). The world has change and I don’t know where it is going”.
Monologue. I was swept away and left speechless, still surfing on the echo of his words, dancing his line of arguments, levitating by this deeply political discussion. The father was flower-power. In his 70s (?) still advocating the power of love as a life energy and panacea to civic problems. I tried to think of the last time someone talked about love as idea with such passion. I couldn’t think of a single instance since The Symposium of Plato, and that included teenage promises. I wanted to hug him and fuse my brains with his, get his energy and see the world forever through his loving eyes.