About five or five thirty in the morning is a calm, soothing time to enjoy the outdoors in Xalepa, our suburb near the sea.
Today I woke early so that I could pick up Natalie and her friends Kaliopi and Kalliopi's sister, Thespina, at Souda Bay. Yesterday afternoon at about 5:30 pm they arrived in Piraeus to board the ferryboat Lato for their voyage home. The girls rented a cabin on the ferryboat with beds so they were able to sleep and rest in comfort for the trip. The Lato is one of the slower ferryboats. Even when the sea is smooth without waves this ferryboat has a tendency to jiggle. A little bit like those motel beds that give a massage after you insert a quarter.
I drank a lot of cold water to wake up. I tried to make a coffee frappe for myself but whereas Nik can make excellent frappes in his sleep I just make a mess. After a couple of tries I gave up and drank more water.
At the same time Asproula, Natalie's pet dog, was so excited she couldn't hold still. As soon as Natalie called to tell me the ferryboat had entered the harbor Asproula was barking, jumping up and down and trying to get me to the car. I don't know how she knows these things but she has a real sense of when anyone in the family is returning home, becoming especially frantic to get to Natalie.
I allowed Asproula to herd me downstairs.
What a lovely day! Cool with a light breeze, pinkish horizons and a pale blue sky. We were the only people up and about in Xalepa. Peace and quiet!
. . . except for Asproula, of course, who I was trying desperately to shush so as not to wake our neighbors who live practically on top of us on the south side.
Last night I wanted to sleep early so I would be sure to be rested, the best way to drive the car regardless whether or not ours is the only car on the road! But the building of flats that was recently built on the empty field behind our bedroom has a particular flat that looks out to the sea and over our bedroom balcony. The people living in the flat are very sociable and have a lot of parties. Last night they were holding a happy birthday party for one of their friends. I could hear every word of their conversations. I heard nothing interesting for new characters or a story so no reason to eavesdrop, especially since I wanted nothing but deep sleep.
As a solution I moved my computer next to my bed and played my CD "Glenn Gould Plays Bach". I put the sound loud enough to block out the neighbor's chatter, singing and laughter. I was able to doze as I tried to imagine Mr. Gould's fingers flying over the keyboard; more tiring than counting sheep! After two plays of the CD the party had moved into the house or dispersed. I would have been able to sleep well if only I were the type of person who could sleep after several interruptions. Oh, well. More time for thinking.
So a couple of hours later Asproula and I were on the road to Souda Harbor. First we headed east than south than east than west than followed the northern coast to the harbor. A motorcyclist in a diving suit, holding his fishing spear gun, passed us on the road. Soon after that I pulled into the harbor's parking lot.
What a crazy, energetic place. Somehow the scene is never the same but always the same. The Lato was unloading people and vehicles while cars and trucks wanting to enter the hold were lining up impatiently to start their own trips.
I turned the car right in a modified u-turn around the divider of the parking lot onto the harbor road. Asproula was at attention with a sharp eye looking for Natalie. Down the line of cars we saw Natalie almost right away; all brown and tanned in a white tank top holding her turquoise duffle bag. The girls were waiting for me exactly in a spot where I couldn't stop the car because it would stop traffic.
Police officers directed traffic coming both from the ferryboat; inside parking and the drivers picking up passengers plus everyone was switching lanes whether there existed a lane or not and everyone was looking for their friends or family from the ferryboat rather than paying attention to the car in front of them.
The policeman I needed to heed was polite (plus tall and handsome) but he was definitely incredulous at the ability of some drivers to ignore everything around them by driving or parking wherever and whenever they wanted!
Everything worked out fine for us. I'm so glad I learned how to drive when the motto was "Drive defensively." So I do drive defensively and drive so as not to impede the flow of traffic. This system works out very well. (I only have accidents with the gate to the entrance of our garden. Embarrassing but better than getting another car involved.)
The girls are really young women, 17 years old and 19 years old. I suppose it's true, that subconsciously I was expecting to find Natalie in her 9 year old persona. I wonder if that can make sense to anyone except to another parent.
Once, arriving at the harbor to pick up Kleo, I drove right past her. I was thinking "Oh, what a pretty, stylish woman" but since I was looking for Kleo in her toddler overalls and striped t-shirt I didn't think to stop until I noticed "the stylish woman's" jaw drop with eyes staring at me incredulously. I realized "She's Kleo!" I stopped the car with a lame excuse about driving too fast to stop in time. I just couldn't make myself ‘fess up to the truth.
So forgive me if I still call them "the girls" although they are certainly self-confident young women.
Something I had forgotten about Natalie during her vacation is how she likes to make sure I'm doing everything right; including driving which she hasn't started doing yet. The characters in the comic books ‘Zits' are so relevant to my life, probably more than any other book. Isn't that a bit scary?
Yet to come: the drive to take Kalliopi and Thespina home, the right way vs. Mom's way.