Of all the things I notice silently about daily life back in the states flushing toiletpaper is probably tops; prices-without-tax-included is maybe the worst. In my third of a century I’ve reached some remarkable places but I’m not a traveler in the serious sense of the word and I’d never before spent this much time out of the country continuously. Whether serene or dimwitted, I settle into new environments easily and usually stick around happily until compelled to move on again, which characteristic both left me wanting to stay in Greece indefinitely and leaves me now quite content already back in the mountains of central New York. The transition back into an old environment always has the same structure, in my experience, differentiated only by the amount of change and time absent: smells and other perceptions rush back to you memories of forgotten quotidian habits and a warm familiarity washes you over; yet your mind struggles at the same time with incongruities, and even minute changes stand out—electric—as you fuse remembered and immediate elements into a new vision and the memories themselves are changed forever.
Around here the hills and fields are yellowed by drought but the green to me is still lusciously deep when compared with the brown aridity of Attica or the grey of the Cyclades where it’s the seawater animating barren rocks. If I were to tell you about my final adventure camping the Cyclades you would hear that it was the highlight of the year or in that category anyway. The year itself could be called a highlight. For that time I was thrown together with about 15 other adults in close physical and intellectual quarters, constantly like a boarding school, something which happens rarely even in youth and less often later on. The result is that I made a handful of intimate friends in an unprecedentedly short time. To some degree we know and fashion ourselves through friendships and so the accelerated pace of the relationships offered or imposed a correspondingly intimate self-reflection.
It was not a matter only of new people and landscapes however. I found space in my life for old interests. Under pressure to play some sort of game with people, I took up chess again (for which, incidentally, internet resources have greatly improved, with lectures over animated matches offering an alternative to the dense notation of chess books). I am rediscovering modern and virtually discovering contemporary fiction after a prolonged expedition into first ancient literature and then increasingly into mainly its secondary literature. I’m writing too. In addition to a couple of bad short stories, I’m writing out retrospective thoughts on this year, haphazardly but not cursorily, as the memories come into my head, so that I’ll have material for some sort of project when it comes into focus. There are many merits of the blog format but it is nice to think outside it again after much time writing in almost none but my superfluid or academic prose styles.
I don’t know: this all seems transient for a transitional period. I think this is the longest I’ve gone without posting here and I decided to just write something as a segue back in to the habit of this blog and it fumbled and spewed forth as a bundle of vaguely connected thoughts on the moment. Everything is different now. Several kids I knew mute when I left are now loquacious. I’ll become an uncle this fall. You’ll probably hear more about that. I’m devouring and redevouring Cormac McCarthy novels and baking bread and reading Strabo and thinking about language. You’ll probably hear something about that too.