You can’t go home again

The idea of returning to
live in my home country has always been at the back of my mind, as I suspect is
the case for many of us who have some notion of home. The two should go
together. The longing to go back has been powerful and overwhelming sometimes
and fainter at others; but it has always been there. Faced with the occasional
reality check, it has gone through ups and downs, grand plans and
disappointments; but there has always been the distant hope that someday, under the
right circumstances, I could take the family there – not forever, but at least
for a short while. Just enough time for my soul’s batteries to recharge and for
my kids to get to know and understand where I come from and to finally feel half-Greek, rather than just hear about it.
That hope is now a
melancholic afterthought – and that feels both strange and painful. Every time
I go back to visit, it becomes even more obvious why I cannot go back – not now,
not in the near future and probably not in the long-term future either. It is a
silent transformation, but one that is happening at an uncomfortable pace.
Silent,
because it is in the little things: the empty shops, abandoned, their dirty
windows sporting “For Rent” signs; my neighbourhood toy store, its shelves once
packed all the way up to the ceiling, now half-empty, a few stray toys here and
there, the selection depressing even for a child; or the playground where I usually
take my children, more and more neglected and unkempt with every visit. Change is
also in the mood of the people I talk to, mostly the young ones, now desperately
looking for ways to “get out;” but also the older generation, hardly seeing any
light – or hope – at the end of the tunnel. There is an unmistakeable air of
sadness everywhere you go. Frustration. Insecurity. Exhaustion. Resignation.
I was flying out of
Athens at dawn yesterday morning. I was half-asleep, but struggling to keep my eyes
open because the view was just too amazing: a flawless full moon on one side, a
budding sunrise on the other, the colours from each side spreading across the
sky, blending into each other, the evening sky blue with red, pink and orange;
and below, the eternal blue of the sea – my sea – untouched.
I thought of all this
beauty I am leaving behind, every time; the unattainable beauty that I cannot
go back to. It does not matter who had it coming; whose fault it is and who
ends up paying; what’s deserved and what’s not. My home is gone.

4 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I see the Greek tragedy sneeking through your words…the inevitability of the drama that will strike the country and your life…
    I exagerate, of course (that's again the Italian part of me) but see it in this wy:
    1) even if you were living in Greece now, you would have difficuklties in recognizing and accepting empty syores, neglected playgrounds, people 'fleeing' their country. I mean, people who never left their home country, would probably not think about it that often but if they Do think about how it once was and how it has now become (and this is valid for every country, crisis or not crisis) well…all of them see that their familiar places have changed, sometimes beyond recognition. Think of once green areas and now residential areas or industrial areas (people in Rhoon have this very often as here the landscape and the population have changed immensely).
    On the other hand: hey! think positive! Greece is a beautiful country, a gift from the Gods (OK, that's a bit much) in 20 years time, when you have decided to retire you'll see Greece will become once more YOUR country!
    Aglaia

  2. Anonymous

    dont hate me but here is what i think: you should just accept that the Greece you know is fading away and morphing to something different and that it will reappear in some other form… i know that it is tough to swallow my statement but one has to accept it. For example: after the civil war finished in lebanon: i realised that it was not my home to go back to… i accepted this and now i just feel that there are so many countries to see and experience and it is one of them…i know that civil war is different than economic turmoil but it is similar in that it is a tough thing for a country to survive!

  3. Greece will go through hard times but imagine what Europe was like in 1945 then 1955 then 1965 and so on. Never say never my friend. It's always darkest before the dawn. No matter what happens to the economy, the essential Greece of sun and sand endures, and the economy will rebuild. It will take time and we haven't hit bottom yet but the resilient and proud people will rise again – hopefully made stronger from it.

  4. Martin

    I think this is something we "nomadic professionals" all struggle with in different forms. Perhaps of interest in this context:
    http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/10/moving_around_without_losing_your_roots.html

    Martin

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