counting the days

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1,084. 

Days it’s been since my life changed forever.

942.

Days it’s been since I first returned.

152.

Days it’s been since I last set foot in my favorite place on Earth.

0.

Days it’s been since I’ve thought about Thessaloniki.

In eleven days, it will be the three-year anniversary of my landing in Thessaloniki for the first time. That day marks such an important part of my life and I commemorate it every year. It doesn’t get easier with the time, as some may  think, but harder. I arrived in Thessaloniki on January 27, 2009, just two days before my 20th birthday. I spent my 20th with one other girl, Megan, a student from Iowa State. She and I were the first to arrive in Thessaloniki for school and had the longest time to adjust to being there…or rather to cry.

At least that’s what I did with my time there. I don’t do well alone. I never have. I thrive in a group. Throw me in a room with 100 people, and I’m bound to become friends with at least 40-50% of them. With Megan it was she and I alone to fend for ourselves. There was no one to lean on but each other. She and I had just met, so we weren’t exactly best friends. The nights I spent awake from jet-lag I sobbed calling my best friend Ashley from Skype asking myself what I was doing. I would weap over my bible crying to God about why I chose to do this. Ha, joke was totally on me though… good one, God.

I hated my first two weeks in Greece. I was miserable. To make matters worse, my roommate was the last to arrive, as the freak snow storm in London held her there while everyone else was bonding, I was still alone. Poor me, right? Well, yes… at the time, that’s exactly what I was thinking. My mind was quickly changed. The second my roommate with the same name, Jacqueline, came, I was ready for my adventure. Orientation began and I made friends very quickly. From that point on, I had my παρεα. My friends I’m still close with today. Jacqueline, Lauren, Vana, Chrysanthi, Simone, Sarah, Alyssa, Jill, Allison and Olga.

I still count the days when I get to return. Being in Thessaloniki is the hardest thing to explain. It’s this gorgeous combination of old meets new. The taste of the air is a mix of sea breeze and sweat, the scent of cigarette smoke and frappes. The people are beautiful, bronzed from the sun and marked by their thick and delicious accents. How I could go on. Salonika always will have my heart. A love affair will always go on each time I step into its graces off a plane, train or boat. Sweet Salonika, three years could never be just a memory. How many more days must I count before we’re reunited once more?

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