We took a 90-minute ferry from Athens to Hydra yesterday, a symbolic start to our real vacation from city life. The day after Bret and I met in Athens (the summer of '98 for those just tuning in), we had our first conversation on a ferry to Spetses--same route, entirely different boat. Yesterday's speed liner was fast, enclosed, over-air-conditioned and filled with TVs. I openly decried the lack of deck from which to dolphin watch, but was secretly glad to be spared the strain of children hanging overboard. The difference in ferry was an exclamation point; so much has chanced in 20 years. Of course it has, and we did come back to Athens/Crete in 2002, but something about retracing our steps, with our children no less, has highlighted our new iWorld with especial clarity. We no longer get lost for hours on end and spew mispronounced proper names at strangers who don't speak a word of English. We follow our GPS and, if the signal goes out or we get lost for a few minutes in spite of the self-adjusting visual and audio map, we spew mispronounced proper names at strangers who are fluent in English. We don't run out of cash and hunt for an ATM or go hungry/sober/on foot, we pay with cards, if not our phones, for anything our hearts desire. We don't eventually turn up at our lodging with no idea what to expect but have been using the Airbnb app for weeks to message with our host who answers every question in real time, doubles as chauffeur and, most importantly of all, finds us babysitters.
Bret's and my first conversation is the inspiration behind the name of this blog. After I finally positioned myself to address him, the picture of subtlety I'm sure, we must have been getting to know each other with some basic chit-chat. The only exchange we can recall verbatim is my asking his favorite song, a question that only an eighteen-year-old would pose. I earnestly volunteered mine, American Pie, before he replied, adrip with irony, "It Ain't Me Babe," to my mind cementing our obvious bond through a mutual love of Dylan.
Yesterday our children transitioned from town to country, inspiring a serial meltdown. As we arrived triumphantly early in Piraeus, the port of Athens, William became obsessed with how much the docked ferries must be polluting the water. Not one to let go, he was reduced to tears by our participation in ruining the sea. (We regret telling him why the Mediterranean has so few fish.) Then, on arrival in the port of Hydra, Cordelia spotted the carless island's famous "horseback taxis" and screamed on repeat, "I want to drive one! Let me drive one!!" (We are hoping to take her riding but, due to our luggage, opted for a sea taxi to reach our nearby port of Kamini.)
Meltdown three came after we checked into our lovely Hydra home. The children had their usual ecstatic reaction to more than a thousand square feet and we headed to a taverna for lunch. The joint, like much of Greece, was filled with stray cats and the kids were so distraught over how hot and tired the cats looked that they wanted to save them all, felt they were being cruelly spritzed by the pub owner, and were soon crying again over being told not to pet and feed them.
We left, the children having hardly touched their food, and went for our maiden Mediterranean family swim. It's a steep island and, after a rocky afternoon of emotions and brushes with disappointment, the day went straight up...climaxing in the discovery of a world-class restaurant overlooking a sunset that rivaled Santa Fe, upon which beach Cordelia finished the night with a moonlit skinny dip while William skipped rocks and we digested history, our good fortune, and the epic project that is family-making.
It is us babe...the ones you were looking for.