I’m back on Paros and as I feared, no longer enchanted by the place as I had been last year, the first time around. That bliss accompanying the delicious discoveries of falling in love. But it’s all so familiar now and the season has changed. Autumn is in the wind, the sky, the sea and the land. Any miracles of discovery will have to take place within my being, not on the level of the body and my senses. Solitude is what I crave. I yearn to take a long walk on the road and meet D. at Taos Center and order prawn chips as reward for my trek. I hesitate because of that damn plantar fasciitis that causes my left foot to feel as if a metal spike jabs my sole with every step I take. But already I have decided, I’ll take that walk, and skip the shower I should have taken after my swim. I want to start my walk in daylight.
The essential question I have explored in my personal narrative pieces, probably also in my fiction, is Happiness. That’s what I wonder about. How to be, despite the obstacles.
I’m sitting on my veranda, sheltered from the wind coming out of the North, but hearing and feeling its edges slipping around the side of the house. My view from here is mostly East, veering a bit to the South, and my long view is disrupted by ugly utility poles that are nighttime lit, as well as a house. The house isn’t bad, it’s the utility poles that sadden me. On D’s porch, where first I lived when I arrived last year August 22, the view is unobstructed. I was surprised that D had placed her table on the side of the veranda where there is a vertical beam that holds up the retractable roof right smack dab in the middle of the view. I mentioned it last night (or perhaps I complained?) and she explained her reasons, but I think the main reason was that she wasn’t the least bit aware of how her view was disturbed, or perhaps she simply wasn’t disturbed. But, amazingly, she got up and started moving the table to where I suggested it be placed. Was that from consideration for me? Or a new awareness on her part? Just wondering.
The view from my own veranda would be perfectly lovely if it weren’t for the utility poles and attached wires strung between them. The wires are especially distressing, uglier than the poles from which they hang. I don’t mind the solar water heater mechanicals, the antennae and the small satellite dishes on the roofs. It’s the utility wires that depress me. I can squint like an artist and cause them almost to disappear, but that will deepen the wrinkles around my eyes, and besides, the poles then become even more of an eyesore. If I turn my head to the right and direct my gaze towards the row of white houses trimmed in various shades of blue, with the still blossoming bougainvillea hanging from my veranda’s roof and the flowering bushes growing up to meet them, it’s quite a beguiling view; I may turn the furniture around so as to be facing that unpolluted scene.
I am simply a happier and more fulfilled person when I have a better view. I cannot help it. I wonder if living with someone whose facial expression was usually dour had a distressing effect on my instinctual happiness-making battery. Seeing beauty simply makes me happy. What if I were blind? That avenue of input to my happiness battery would be eliminated. Unless, of course, my visual imagination took over and I compensated with internal stimulation. I wonder if Caryn, my friend who became blind as a child, has the capacity to visually self-stimulate?
My wise mother-in-law, NR, once commented, “just look between the dirt spots, dear” when I complained that the view from the picture window in our newly renovated farmhouse was obscured because I hadn’t gotten around to cleaning. Is that how to enjoy and accept life on its own terms? Just look between the dirt spots? I think I try doing that an awful lot, and forget that one can turn and look in a different direction, find a different view altogether to appreciate. But no matter how intriguing the other views from the veranda are, the view I want to be absorbing, engaging with, is the long vista to the sea, the open sky, and the island of Naxos. That’s the compelling view and the one I can’t have the way I want. In this house from this veranda, it comes with ugliness. And that means that I will go inside more often and have no place to look but inward. And that’s what I want, anyway. Though I wish I had both.
I skyped with JFB in Israel yesterday and cried “I don’t know how to be a mother-in-law” when we got talking about the status change that will occur in 8 months. My daughter-in-law is pregnant and will make me a grandmother at the end of May 2016. Already, I’m starting to prepare and have, albeit ignorant of the reason, empathically gained weight, thus rendering my figure more matronly. And with that pesky foot injury, that Plantar Fasciitis (from now on, I shall refer to it as Plantar The Fascist), I am slowed to grandmotherly speed and distance. I will continue to walk, though. I don’t care if it means I am injuring myself further. I’ve rested it enough, and resting appears not to be especially restorative. If you, the reader, have any viable suggestions, do let me know. Forget about sending referrals for healing professionals, please, unless the healer can work from a distance or are here, in Paros.
(Now, isn’t that a clever way to lure you, the reader, into communicating with me? But the need is sincere, I assure you).
In any case, JFB answered that I will be a wonderful grandmother, and mother-in-law, too. Especially if I can be honest and speak my confusion. I don’t know when will be a good time for a grandmotherly visit with the new one, and I live so far away and travel-planning is complicated. It would be nice to have prior information about when I would be welcome. But she doesn’t know yet, of course. She’s never had a baby and doesn’t know how she’ll feel, doesn’t know what to expect. And she won’t know until the time comes. One idea I have is to arrive at the end of her three month maternity leave and provide child care for a month or so when she returns to work. Make it an easier transition for her, knowing that her baby is with a loving grandma and not just a nice stranger. I’ll have to run it by her sometime. And expect no answer until the time arrives. Is everything in life about letting go?