Day 198. A Mental Vacation

Hotel Palace Ios. Sigh.

This has been a week of upheaval and strife.  I’m tired.  I see I’m down to less than 200 days left to live.  Supposedly.  Should I have marked that somehow?

So why does my mind drift instead toward the Island of Paros, in the Cyclades, Greece?

Two, maybe three days of my life I spent on that tiny island, twenty years ago, soaking up the sun, drinking fruity drinks, eating phenomenally salty feta cheese and sucking my fingers, after juicy kalamata olives.

We spent one idyllic day, on Golden Beach, John and my brother Greg and I.  The place was aptly named, golden, and deserted, except for a few German sunbathers and some French windsurfers, who (we thought, hilariously) windsurfed in the nude. The day was perfect for no special reason:  but the weather was exquisite, not too hot or cold, with the sun shining on us without a break from clouds, but somehow not so blindingly that we felt a need to get into the shade.  We could have stayed all day and into the dark.  Did we?  I don’t remember.

I only remember how funny those naked French windsurfers were, how immature John and I were about what all was flopping in the wind. Then John and I swimming in the winedark sea, taking off our trunks and doing backward hand stands toward the beach, both of us laughing so hard. I laughed so hard that I aspirated sea water. But we were terribly disappointed that Greg did not see our Aegean Sea mooning show. Still, my abs hurt the next day from how hard we laughed.  Oh, we knew we were immature Americans! I have never grown up since.

So, I am remembering this day so fondly, the way the wind cooled my sunburned skin, the way my red skin grew white polka-dots when it got chill goosebumps.  I relished the coolness of the icy bottle of water I know Greg would have bought me (because that’s the kind of guy he is).  I remember it, return to it now, because at the time, it never occurred to me that it was the last trip of its kind, for me.

I mean, I never appreciated it for what it was, for the sensations I was having, the wonderful place, for the people I was with. I was having a fantastic time. But at the same time, a tornado of some kind always rushed my cerebral cortex: I was feeling left out because I had no love interest, or no boys looked at me, or whatever.  The first couple of days we were there on the previous island, a spider bit me….in the face…so I was sure that everyone would stare at my swollen face. I always found something to bitch about, if not to someone else, then to myself.  For that reason, I didn’t fully enjoy the trip. What a tragedy.  What a fool I was.

Thus, now that I am sick and it’s hard for me to travel—I had to quit (or at least delay) Physical Therapy this week for complex reasons,  I’ve been feeling like I can’t get anything done, and then yesterday I tore the skin on my leg AGAIN, thus another trip to the ER, where (at least) they glued it shut (I won’t describe how painful that is!)—All these things are reminders that keeping it together at home is challenging enough that traveling is not going to be an option for me.

I’m still remembering that trip to Greece twenty years ago.  Another place we stayed was the Hotel Palace Ios (which is in the picture on the left, overhanging the sea), an absolutely gorgeous white-washed hotel, cut out of the mountain-ish hill, overhanging a cove of the sea (where divers would go every morning to harvest the squid for calamari).  The way up to the rooms involved going up beautiful grey slate steps.  Following the grey slate down, we wound up at the pool, made of Grecian blue and white tile.  It was on a fantastic slate patio with a bar that played fantastic music all day, run by a fun, gorgeous bartender, Photis.  All day long, a few old Greek men sat at the bar drinking Ouzo.  Who needed the beach below, when we could swim in that elegant pool?

When someone asks me to form an image of relaxation, I imagine myself catching the sun and chill on Golden Beach, or in bed one morning at the Hotel Palace Ios with the cool breeze blowing in the window, and Pink Floyd’s “Time” playing loudly at the pool in the Cyclades Islands in Greece, which may have been my life’s peak experience. I may not have enjoyed it fully then, but I will enjoy it more than enough now, over and over. I guess I can travel….in my mind.

What about you?  Any peak experiences of your youth that you relive?

And for that matter, what image do you form in your mind when the voice on the relaxation tape tells you to picture a relaxing place?

17 thoughts on “Day 198. A Mental Vacation

  1. That time is surely one of MY happiest. I’m really happy to read about your memories and how they parallel my own! Having you there on that fantastic trip, even if it was just for a part of mine, was one of the best pieces. Having you be with me every time we moved to a new part of the world and being my only real friend and sister surely bonded us.

    I, too, think about Ios and the rest of the tour of Greece often. It was a magical trip. I remember your spider bite and how upset you were and we joked about how they always seemed to seek you out. You do sell yourself short though! I remember that you were amazingly attractive with your blonde hair and perfect skin. For that matter I think you still are! It sucks being beautiful, but remember what you always used to say “Do not hate me because I am beautiful”! I still laugh at that and repeat it (in your honor of course).

    What a great thing to dream about. Thinking about the beach and perfect serenity and weather is a great focal point for mediation and relaxation!

    I Love you little sister!

    • Oh my god, you are so sweet. So kindly you remember me! I forgot to write about “I’m PRINCESS OF THE AEGEAN” too. Hah!
      We had so much fun on that trip. I will never forget when we sat at the port and waited for the ship when you left. I could NOT control my lower lip, but I was so glad I waited to burst into tears before you walked onto the ship. i felt like such a lunk head…but you are that important, it was like the world walking away. I wrote a poem about it one time, but it never captured the enormity of the feeling. I knew when you left, you were going on to work, to (eventually) get married, and the fun was over. Isn’t that funny?

      I think it’s a writer’s job to capture all those moments [click] and know their gravity. I’m glad I knew it.

      Well, here I am getting all weepy a few minutes before my party guests get here….I’d better focus on those burro rides or that crazy dancing we all did.

      I love you mucho, mucho!! xxoo

      Enna baklava parakalo!

  2. Wow, what a keen memory you have Heidi! I don’t think I’ve ever laughed as hard as I did that day at Golden Beach. I too, remember waking up to Pink Floyd’s “Time” at the Hotel Palace Ios and feeling perfectly sublime. That was truly a wonderful trip. Great memories. No one above ya Baby!

    I hope your leg is mending well. Geez, sorry to hear about that.

    Oh, and don’t forget the #2 breakfast! : )

    • HAH!!! I believe I left that miniscule….or was it those two miniscule details out about Golden Beach!!

      Hey, did you see the link I posted on Golden Beach? It’s all built up and fancy now. Not the crazy place we rode to on the mopeds. And for that matter I left out the Mopeds too!! That was craziness! So much fun…and yet terror! So glad we were together!!

      Loveya…put no one abovaya!

      Photis!! Oh Photis!!!

  3. Wow, Golden Beach was pretty remote when we went. I hope the nude windsurfers are still there!

    Oh yeah, Photis and the mopeds. Truly great stuff. Can’t believe that was twenty years ago. Dang.


  4. the one memory to which I go back… when I was about 14, I travel with my parents to Bariloche (south of Argentina – the equivalent of snowy mountains in the northwest in the US). One day we took a hiking trip. We walked for about what seemed to me an hour through a fairly thick forest. You couldn’t see more than ten feet ahead of you. The trail meandered and appeared to turn on itself. But then, on one of those turns, there it was: Lago Escondido (Hidden Lake). A fairly small lake, perfectly round, surrounded by tall trees. Nobody was there, but us. You could not see anything but the trees, the circular surface of the immobile water and the sky reflected on it. I don’t know how long we stayed, but my recollection does not include our departure. As far as my memory goes, we never left.

    That place, to me, evokes perfection, not of the big, stupendous model, but a rather modest one, concentrated, ready for the offering – and the take.

  5. Heidi, If I need to visualize a relaxing place, I think I’ll borrow the image of sitting around that pool, fruity drink in hand. What a great time you had in such a beautiful place. I don’t think I could top your trip to Greece, but I do have some pretty great memories of a trip to Paradise Island with my best friend Matt almost 30 years ago now. Laughter was always a part of our time spent together. I miss those days.

    • Laughter always has to be part of any of my happiest memories, too, Steve, as you know, since you are in some of them, way back when–like I remember staying out until the streetlights switched on playing in the street with a basketball right in front of the Furys’ house–like the streetlight was a spotlight. We laughed and laughed. I can’t remember what was so funny. We got to play for just those short minutes until somebody figured out it was getting dark, and then you heard the call from home, or my dad whistled out the door….then poof! just like that the fun was all over. 🙂

  6. When I was thirteen, I spent a week–but it remembers as longer, many weeks or all summer–in a rented house in Bridgehampton at the end of Long Island. My mother, my two brothers, myself, and several sets of aunts, uncles, and cousins all sprawled in the house, kids in sleeping bags across the living room floor, whispering all night long. Every day, we swam at the beach. Every night, we barbecued. The road back to the house was sandy dirt, and I remember walking it one evening when my older brother Mike teased that he could measure how hot the day had been by touching the still warm hair on the top of my head. I found out afterwards that that summer was mostly for him because in the fall he had surgery that didn’t ever really work out. But like your Greece, for me it was one of those perfect times. I still think about the warm weight of his hand on my head.

    • That’s such a gorgeous story. In fact, it sounds very much like it could be the beginning of a short story. The imprint of his hand on your head is so beautiful it makes me weepy. Lovely.


  7. All the places I’ve been and the one I go back to the most is an unexpected afternoon in Palm Springs with my Dad several years ago. The whole trip was unexpected really. I had thought I would be spending my summer vacation where I grew up (otherwise known as the-best-place-in-the-world) in cool and leafy southern PA but kerfuffle intervened so I re-formed a plan by asking my Dad where he would like to go and his saying Death Valley and my gamely going along with that although in retrospect going camping in Death Valley in July might not have been the best idea. I drove from Austin to Topeka on I 35 so that we could fly to Las Vegas together. My Dad is even more of-Mennonite-background than me. What happened in Las Vegas stayed in Las Vegas because there was nothing to tell except that we did go to a nice buffet. From there we kept driving stopping at whatever we came across… Joshua Tree, Hoover Dam, Death Valley, Palm Springs… until we reached my Aunt and Uncle in LA. Each place we went to was like a foreign country to us and we had a great time. Little ‘good luck’ things kept happening along the way like they always do when I travel with my Dad. When we got to Palm Springs a guy at a gas station told us where the locals went to swim for free at a hotel. We drove to the address expecting a dumpy run down place with a square of water in the back but instead pulled into a large fancy spa-like place which gave us big fluffy white towels, free drinks, and an amazing view of the desert and palm trees. My farmer boy to working class adult Dad lay back on a lounge chair and said, “Life is usually better than good.” It’s a moment I come back to sometimes.

    • What a fantastic story–and a charmed trip! I have always thought of you as a magical person, Karina, so it’s no surprise that your father is included in that magical veil. I form a mental picture of you and your dad wrapped in fluffy towels with your fruity drinks with the little umbrellas in them. Perfect! Definitely better than good. That’s an indellible image. Thank you!

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