Finding herself all too often thinking of David Sedaris when he said: It is funny the things that run through your mind when you’re sitting in your underpants in front of a pair of strangers.
I never noticed these things as a child, even though I came here every summer and spent every single day with these same people. Of course, then I was barely in the double-digits and my soon to be dinner companions are decades older – friends of my parents. I grew up with them. The Captain would teach us kids how to pick sea urchins by hand from the water, dry them out in the sun, then pry the top off with a knife. Then we would all march them over to our parents, proud of handling what to us seemed to be dangerous creatures of the sea. Another friend, the Chef, a short and stout man, with a leathery tan from living out his days fishing on the open sea, would take us to the kitchen. After sprinkling a dash of spice on the inside of each sea urchin, he would give us some spoons, and set us on our merry way. We’d eat them on the beach, feeling victorious because of the ‘grown-up’ event that we had just been a part of, secretly hating the bitter taste.
A few other friends arrived soon after, as we were trying to make out how in God’s name we were to pick between all the food that was offered. Of course, in the popular Greek style, we decided to order a plate of each and a few bottles of local wine to boot. It had been a long time – almost ten years actually – since I had last been to the island. While everyone still kept in touch, time had taken its toll. As I was often told, there was no specific reason for the lengthening distance between them. Some of the couples got divorced, my parents included. Some of the divorces were messy, so people drifted apart, feeling they had to pick sides. Some moved away: the Chef for instance. But a few stayed and kept coming back every summer.
I was not sure what had brought me back here this year. I had planned a different holiday, for myself, by myself, to a Greek island I had never been to before. Yet, in an unexpected turn of events, I ended up here. Again. This place had the comfort of familiarity. That comfort, however, eluded me as soon as I sat down with my parents’ friends. They seemed smaller now – perhaps I was just bigger? They seemed less abstract, more human. I couldn’t make out if they were becoming one of me or if I was becoming one of them.
“Do you want some wine?” one of them asked. Read more...