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?