Home. Familiar beloved things. Cats, garden, big bed, ocean. Barely nestled into our own time zone, and already off to visit our habitual seaside spot and bring greetings from the Aegean and the North Atlantic. Hello to the gull, floating like a duck above shadowy deep kelp gardens. Greetings from the vast flock of French gulls, scurrying like Manhattan pedestrians across the face of the wide flat low-tide shoals of Bretagne, feasting on the vast multi-colored salty blanket of spongy kelp alive with good things to eat. Greetings from the screaming flocks wheeling above the ferryboat in Piraeus, alert for the fools who throw chunks of bread. Greetings from the crystal-clear harbor waters at Naxos where every single pebble far below glows with the afternoon light.
Vast spans of salt water, all different, all alike. Our womb-home. The fish don’t need entry visas. There are no laws forbidding green water from mixing with the stinky orange of Santorini’s volcanic hot springs. Tiny fish from the tide-pools may be startled to find themselves in cosmetician’s ceramic pools at a spa, but they willingly nibble the cuticles from the tourists’ toes. What, you never heard of a marine pedicure?
The ocean consoles me, reminds me of what unifies us all whether we understand it or not. The air is another mind-bender, the idea that what we take into our lungs has been promiscuous with all the other air-breathers on the planet, but you can’t see it the way you see the massive waters, it doesn’t gob-smack you the same way. The ocean puts me in my place, reminds me of my insignificance, and my significance. Hail, waters.
Wandering about Athens this past week, sad in discovering that the city’s two main art museums had none of their major collections on display—one closed for several years of “renovation” but showing no signs of construction—I visited an exhibition devoted to Maria Callas. Apart from a video of her singing two arias in concert, it had virtually nothing to do with her art, only her celebrity: dresses & gowns worn to social events, scarves & purses & jewelry, gifts & furniture, photos not of performances but of attendance at galas—I half expected to see her bra or her dentures. Pissed at paying to see an exhibit more appropriate to Kim Kardashian than to a great artist, I wrote a very snarky note in the exhibition guest book. For six Euros I needed some satisfaction.
In the blog I tend to write pretty happy stuff, though I feel obliged to dilute it with a bit of bitters at times. For me, the only difference between comedy and tragedy is that in comedy, we do laugh, and people survive. I don’t like to pretend to rampant joy, and I tend to turn sour when I see ads for New Age therapists or other purveyors of enlightenment either wreathed in fluorescent smiles or profoundly bearded—I know some of these and they’re lovely people, I just bridle at the commodification of bliss. So I started writing a fairly acrid blog post.
But having got home last night, we decided to go to the ocean today, just so the Pacific wouldn’t get jealous of our polyamorous fling with the Aegean. It was warm, calm, lovely, and it just dissolved all the snark right out of me. Right now I’m just plainly, simply glad to be alive.