One of the everlasting memories I have of Pylos is the kiosk in the middle of town, amidst the hustle and bustle of the crowd coming in from the villages every morning to buy groceries, go to the bank, visit the doctor, the contractor, the lawyer. Some come to meet friends and family from what seems like an eternal 10 km. or so from their respective villages. The crowd usually gets big with the 8.30 bus and subsides about 4 hours later. It’s like a small daily field trip for most of the retired folks. It is business for the younger ones. And it’s a time to relax for the ex-pats and their families from abroad. Almost everyone sits at the square. Most have coffee, either Greek or cold coffee. A “show off” would get a cappuccino or even a long espresso. The locals often get raki or ouzo. They talk about the great feeling of anise in the morning. “Licorice” doesn’t describe it as well as anise. It’s the perfect word for a seemingly light and harmless drink.
My uncle comes and sits down and orders me one as well. I balk at it and the locals ask me why I am disrespecting my uncle. I drink it. Eventually. When I get up, my feet don’t seem to be touching the ground. My uncle smiles and makes sure I’m okay. “The car’s around the corner. Stay here and I’ll pick you up.
My aunt had cooked up a storm, as usual. There were stuffed peppers, pasta with minced veal, plenty of salty feta-like cheese, and homemade baguette-like bread. The more I ate, the more grounded my feet became. The more clear my mind became from the somewhat delictable haze. Raki was some heavy shit.
“The boy’s 16. What were you thinking?” I heard my aunt say, scolding my uncle. I slept so well.
I dozed off on a beach chair on the veranda overlooking Navarino Bay. Pylos was a great town. The higher up one goes the greater the view gets.
Sofia and Lydia had also fallen asleep on their bed. It had been a challenging morning. Sofia had become the only lawyer in Methoni and Lydia the only veterinarian. They preferred to work where they weren’t very known. Where they weren’t seen together. And they lived in Pylos the rest of the time. They had both come from Athens, wheere it was admittedly hard to start a practice but very accepted to be a lesbian. But money has to sometimes take precedent. Sofia had fixed stuffed peppers for lunch, and with a couple of glasses of wine we all dozed off. But the change was nice. There would be no beachcombing.
It feels strange waking up from a siesta, no matter how positively touted it may be from most northern European populations. Sure, you feel rested. But you also feel a bit wasted, so to say. On this August day, I was sweating profusely, my t-shirt serving as a wet cloth more than anything else. I didn’t want to move. I enjoyed this unique state of half-awakedness. You get the weirdest and most illuminating half-dreams. I felt the wine on my breath. Then came that dream again. I was with an uncle of mine on a fishing boat and he’d caught and octopus yet again. He said something I paid no attention to and banged the octopus on a cement block till he was persuaded of its death. We grilled it and put lemon on it and ate it. It was such a beautiful dream.
It was sad to find out Lydia had died. Full blown stage 3 leukemia. Sofia hardly ever came out outside of her job. It was later found out she had become a hedonist who was living out her life as she saw fit. It had been 8 years, but she needed a clue to recognize me. We spoke merely in niceties. Sad, I thought. We’d spent a lot of quality time together. But sometimes, oftentimes, maybe almost all the time, people drift apart. But these circumstances were different. And somewhat tragic. I was hoping she was keeping her demons in check. She seemed somber. Satiated. She seemed somewhat satisfied by the neo-mundane. She paid for my drink and I watched her drive away in her car.