Tag Archives: Thessaloniki

The Year

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I’ve been writing this blog for a long time now. Several years of my life have been documented in the 70 some posts that are Meet Me in Thessaloniki. In the last year or so, I have found myself in a difficult moment of life. Most of my dear Facebook friends will quickly tell you they are annoyed with the mass amount of ‘all things Greece’ dumped onto their newsfeed from yours truly. 

You see this year was supposed to be thee year. The year I have been waiting for since 2009. The one I dreamed about, envisioned over and over. And now it’s gone. Poof. It only exists in what one day will likely end in a movie script that I will indeed try to sell as a turning of age story of a girl looking to be loved in the way she can love. (Just for the record- it wins a few Oscars). The lovely heroine would of course be played by Jennifer Lawrence, because who doesn’t love her? and obviously she and I are dead ringers for each other (insert sarcasm and a genuine mix of all seriousness). 

2014 is the year I was convinced that I would move back to Greece. Since 2009 I said I would live in Thessaloniki again, I would come back for good one day, and I thought that would be in 2014. I had an interview with the school I attended while in Greece. I was a shoe-in. Or at least I thought I was. 

For the record, dear readers, or random bored human out there reading this because they liked the colorful design and my snarky attitude about J-Law- I am not an over-confident person. When I say I was a shoe-in, I genuinely mean it. I was over-qualified for this job. My heart was prepared for it. I was prepared for it. I did all but pack my bags 6 months early, and it’s a good thing I didn’t. 

God had other plans. That’s one thing that’s changed drastically since I first started writing Meet Me. I so questioned my faith back then, I was in search of something bigger, and I looked in a lot of wrong places for it. Not now. I can look in my heart for the biggest thing- God. 

For anyone who has read this blog, they know that I fell in love when in Greece, with a man named Kosta. He was everything to me. I saw him every time I went back to Thessaloniki. I would lose time over him repeatedly because I was so in love. And then he had a girlfriend. A girlfriend he cheated on, with me. I am not proud of that, especially now, when I try to set an example for the young women in my life that I lead. 

But I would justify it, I would continue to pursue my heart because he was my true love. He was mine! Or at least the invisible stamp that I had all over him said so. But as I told him the news that I could be moving back home to Greece after these five years away the words, “I’ll be married next year,” just rolled from his lips. It was a dagger. 

Had I not known better I thought I was just stabbed. How could he? How could he replace me? It was a flash. Everything after that moment. His face flushed with regret, tears. I congratulated him. What more can a girl do? Apart from call up her best friend after ending the skype call and ask her to take the bitch out. Which I did do. Immediately after getting off this call, I was plotting how to get him back. Thinking about ways we’d be together again.

And then it happened. Three days later I got the news from Greece. ‘It was a very difficult decision this year, as there were many outstanding candidates’. Another dagger. I knew what had happened. Oh and was I pissed?! God did this. God did this because I wouldn’t do it for myself. Had I gotten that job in Thessaloniki, there is no question in my mind that I would have broken up Kosta’s marriage. It would not have been a matter of if, but when. 

That is the most disgusting and ugly thing about me today. I’m pretty sure of that. I was more willing to fight for him than search for a man who would never put himself in a position to cheat. God did this. God protected me from my sin and from myself. God gave me an opportunity to be better. I’m going to take it. 

In the last several weeks, God has been doing crazy shit. Sorry for the cursing- but it’s legit. Crazy. He is uncovering things in me that I haven’t felt in years, if ever. He is putting things in place in me as his child that I didn’t think I was good enough to be part of. 

I always thought I wasn’t a real Christian because I was never able to experience things the way other Christians were in my life. It’s funny how amazing hurt can be for a child of God. If you look really carefully at the dirt of your soul and examine why you put it there, you might better understand why God loves you. And that’s just it. That’s what I realized in these last couple of months. In January and February, there were a lot of days I thought I was going to die. I was so scared, so depressed, so hurt by things around me and I just felt like I was drowning. And then God would do something and show me bigger things. 

For the first time ever, I could see my life from an outside perspective. I was like a third person to myself. I looked on my situation with a broken heart and just wanted to fix myself. For the first time I have been unapologetic about my faith. And it has reaped dividends. Friends of mine, one of my best friends accepted Jesus into her life. I have had more God talks with people in the last two months than I have in the last eight years. 

There’s a saying that sometimes God closes a door to open a window. In my situation, God slammed the door and I am so grateful. He saved me from what I know would be more hurt, more disappointment and just another let down. God is preparing me for far greater things. I am charged and ready to be that person. 

Greece will forever be in my heart, and probably a piece of me will always love Kostas. But my heart is not about to be put in a position to be broken in Thessaloniki again. There will be a day when someone meets me with a heart that is capable of loving me, the right way. Maybe that will be in Thessaloniki…or maybe somewhere else…the year and all those to follow, is still young.

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a different love

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Good evening world. It’s been since November that I last wrote. I think my heart needed to reflect on life before writing again. For me, taking to the page or keyboard needs to be organic. And there are moments each day when I feel the need and desire to write, but the inconvenience sets in. Tonight is the first time where convenience and desire have intersected in a very long time. 

My life has taken a drastic change in recent months. It’s interesting for me to look back to just two posts ago to believe, obey, persist. I talked about my life and my opportunities in terror. Today I face those same obstacles, more opportunities and this time I am running in the best direction with them. 

Let me break it down. Since the last time I wrote here I: 

  • Celebrated a new year
  • Celebrated my 24th birthday
  • Broke up with my boyfriend of over a year
  • Got into grad school
  • Quit my job
  • Got offered another job
  • Confused the shit out of myself and everyone around me
  • Reconnected with who very well could be the love of my life

Okay, so now that you’re all caught up, let me break it down even further. Over the last several months I have been contemplating relationships (as per usual) and their meaning. Love is far more complex than life really lends you to believe. I recognized after breaking up with my ex, that love sometimes just isn’t enough. Love is the foundation to a relationship, love is the mortar, but all the extras are the bricks. Without the bricks, you can’t build a solid foundation to a relationship. This was the problem with my last relationship. We had a whole lot of love. Strong love, but we lacked the bricks. Bricks like common goals, views on God, education, etc. While love will hold you together for a while, when it comes to setting the foundation for a life together, the bricks are what become increasingly important. 

Since my time in Greece in 2009, God has shown me a variety of things. Love, loss, confusion, hurt. All of it. God also showed me a different kind of love I never knew in 2009. He put a man named Kosta into my life. Now if you’ve followed my blog for a while, you know our story. This blog started with our story. When I began my first post here, I was writing in preparation for seeing Kosta again for the first time early 2010. Today, I write about him again, in 2013. 

When I last wrote about Kosta and I’s relationship, I had closed the door to that chapter. He was with another girl, he was happy, and he planned to marry her. How so much can change in two short years. In the time between last seeing or speaking to Kosta- I met a man I fell deeply in love with, I graduated from college, I moved out of state, I moved back to Iowa, I got my first real job, I got into grad school, I quit my job, etc. etc. Two days ago, the last thing on my mind was Kostas. 

He was a distant memory I could look back on fondly. But the last thing I knew was he wanted to marry another girl. For all I knew he was married. Until the magic of the internet came alive. A simple message came through. It was him. After two years of silence. Him. Suddenly it all floods back. The smiles, the jokes, the embraces, the kisses. I remember it all. And it intensifies. 

I look at the quote from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind above and think of Kostas. Apart from special holidays and his birthday, which happens to be the day after mine, I had all but erased him from my mind. My thoughts were on me and my future. Not him. But he was still in my heart. It took all but a few words to remind me why. 

I have loved several men in my life. All differently, all in different ways. Some were immature, others deep, some passionate and intense. Each love brought me something different. But the way I loved Kosta is unique in its own. I never realized it until two days ago. He explained it well. I asked after all this time if he still loved me. His response was, “I will always. You are a different love.” Kosta is the type of love that you can’t erase. He is the love that you ache over. 

It’s amazing to look back at little things over the years and thousands of miles apart. We can go silent for weeks, months and years, and still pick up life as it were the day I left Thessaloniki. Though he is in Greece, and I am here, the bricks are in place. He is the kind of love that I would knock down my life and rebuild with him for.  I don’t know what God has planned for my life. If anything, the last several months are a testimony to how God can change a life so quickly. I can’t help but believe that God wants me in Kosta’s life again. Or he needs to be in mine. 

Our love is something that transcends distance and time. It’s something that with God, could do big things. A life changed like that is worth it to risk. My heart is open to what God is moving me to do. It’s open to interpreting why Kostas was brought back into my life. It’s open to the memories and the rush of emotion that comes to remembering our time together. A walk along the docks. A passionate kiss. Tears and sheets and turkey for Thanksgiving. All of the memories rush back in.

My heart could never erase the love I have for Kostas. He is an extraordinary love. A different love.

What I Want for Tomorrow

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Tomorrow is my least favorite day of the year. January 27. I used to love it, just two days before my birthday and the day before my sister’s. It was always a day that lead up to fantastic things, but never really meant anything in my life. If it ever did mean anything it meant there was a snow day. But not anymore.

January 27, 2009, three years ago tomorrow, was the first day I spent in Thessaloniki. January 27 was the beginning to the most meaningful journey of my life. I look at January 27th as one of the best days of my life, but today I witness it in a new way. I long for that life again. I long for the life where I had no clue where I was going, what I could do and had any dream and possibility in my grasp. 

Greece allowed me the capability to fall in love, to travel, to learn and explore. It taught me to trust again and to give my heart to others. Greece gave me my soul back. My wonderful friend Sam, who studied abroad with me in Greece posted this blog on her Facebook page earlier today. 

 What 20-somethings Want 

I read it, and instantly felt connected to this person. This blogger claims to want someone to pick them up from the airport, to live closer to their parents, to find happiness, a nice job, a good couch, and someone’s nice penis/vagina. They want to get rid of unnecessary relationships and high school bullshit, and “… want a job, a vacation, heath insurance, validation, a back rub, a scalp massage at the place where you get your haircut, people who are jealous of you, an ex who won’t stop texting you when they’re drunk, Twitter followers, happiness maybe sorta, someone to buy you lunch at a fancy restaurant, a mentor who can tell you what the hell to do with your life, a reliable internet connection, a reliable human connection, a gift card to the grocery store, dinner parties with friends where everyone will pretend to have their crap together for just one night, a nice flirty text message to wake up to every morning for the rest of your life, for everyone to like you even if you don’t like anyone, and one of those nights that doesn’t end till 9 AM and reminds you what it feels like to be young and alive. Oh, and $$$. That’s all.”

 

So here’s what I want in my life 3 years after Thessaloniki. 

I want someone to pick me up from the airport, because as Love Actually says, “Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion’s starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don’t see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere.” Every time I’m at an airport my heart breaks a little bit when no one’s there to greet me. That’s why, if I can help it at all costs, I will always be there when a friend comes home on an airplane. I will be there, with a sign and love because that’s what life is about. 

I want to establish worthwhile relationships that will outlive the ‘bullshit’ of college. I created many of those while abroad, and a few in college, but overall, there are still so many people I’m friends with now that in six months will probably never speak to me again. 

I want to open my mind to the world again in a way that education cannot teach me. You can only learn so much in a classroom, and France has so much more to teach me when it comes to living my life. I am ready and prepared for those lessons. 

I want to be able to afford to buy my friends a nice dinner. I love to spoil people and having that kind of income would be nice. Mostly I want to be able to treat others the way I feel about them. I want to show people the kind of love with a random bouquet of flowers or tickets to a concert. I want to be able to, for the first time, be able to spoil those around me. 

I want a significant other. I have now been single for about 2 years, and I am ready to let love envelop me again. I want to find someone who has the same necessity to travel, to understand the world and its twists and turns and I want someone who can make me feel worthwhile at the end of the day… yea, that’d be really nice. 

I want to have the time to speak to my parents and sister every day. I love them dearly, and I just don’t make the effort as much as I should. In the end, they still know they’re my favorite people in the world, but I want to show them how crazy I am about them. 

I want to be fluent in three languages. English- check. Greek and French, not so much. Working on that. By the time I graduate from my master’s I plan to have French half way checked. Greek is a work in progress.

I want to be published. I don’t care where or how, but I want my words to mean something to someone. I blog because it’s an outlet, but to know that someone that I have never met could be impacted by my words and actions is something I want for my life.  

I want the time to read. I want to be able to sit with a book for a few hours a week and go to town. 

Mostly though, I want to continue my travels. I’m not talking France, because yes I’ll be living there within the year… I’m talking about true travel. No plans, just a flight itinerary and a few new countries. I have the goal to visit 30 countries under the age of 30…I need to keep that promise to myself and go to new places.

And of course once I graduate with my 2nd degree, I want a great job (preferably in Europe, but I’ll take the U.S. if I have to), a flat I can call my own and for my dog, Teigan to join me

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?

to old and new friends

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It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, and as always, I feel guilty about it. Writing is my release, plus my life is taking a new direction in the new year. It’s 2012, but before I continue I have to recap the finality of 2011.

December 15 was awesome. It marked the homecoming of two of my best friends and they loved Thessaloniki, as I knew they would. CJ’s family, Trevor and several of our friends went for a giant greek dinner at the Olympic Flame, which was wonderful, the night ended in ouzo shots and everyone was happy. My life felt on track. Well, sort of. Previously in the week, I met a guy, one that seemed to have things together, motivated, etc- and we went on a date. It was refreshing to know a man can actually still ask a girl on a proper date like he’s supposed to, however, he broke a rule of mine… and this is a reference to any man who ever will or has read my blog- don’t say I love you to a person within two weeks of knowing them. Never. Even if you feel that way, don’t say it. The cap of early “I love you’s” is 1 month. Don’t break it. So things there, aren’t really going forward.

Christmas was a big day for me. I was around family and friends and had a wonderful time, but I had a spare moment throughout my day to send my wishes east to Greece. I broke down and wrote Kostas. I hadn’t heard from him in months, since I’d left Greece in fact, and didn’t in my life expect to hear from him, but for the last several years he and I always exchange Christmas wishes to each other, so as the sentimental person I am, I wrote him. It was short and sweet, nothing gushing or anything and sent it his way. I didn’t plan to hear back, but a few short hours later- there it was.

“kala xristougenna glukia mou…thank you for your wishes…i want to also wish you the best, be always good…filkia pollaaaaaaaaaaa”

It hit me like a ton of bricks. My heart broke again just in that instant. I took a moment, and collected my mind just thinking, ‘he didn’t choose you.’ He didn’t choose me. I was okay after that moment. I was given love for a while, and that love went away. Bottom line, it wasn’t me. It wasn’t me who he wanted. I had the opportunity to visit a dear friend of mine this weekend.

To celebrate the new year, my roommate, Megan, and I decided to go to Michigan where we stayed with my friend Nate, who worked at the US Olympic Committee with me. It had been over a year since we last saw each other, so we figured a reunion was a fitting way to start 2012.

Nate and his friends reminded me of several things. 1) that friendships are extremely powerful and exceedingly important in our lives and 2) that gentlemen still exist.

It was so special to witness Nate and his boys. Meg and I were two girls among 6 men- all bonded through each other. Nate, Nick, Gianni, Rory, Tom, and Brett- are the epitome of men’s friendship. They bust each others chops, protect each other and look out for one another. These men were so definitive in their relationships with one another, each connected to the other through high school or college friendship. These men have lasted the test of time, with years behind them and miles between them. Rory’s in Colorado, Tom’s in D.C. and Brett’s in Tennessee. Spread across a map? Doesn’t matter. They are bonded. Those boys were more concerned with each other on NYE than tapping ass. They put the idea of bros before ho’s to life. That’s something I think is so important and key to a happy life with good friendships.

To make light of gentlemen…I cannot tell you how long it’s been since I witnessed a man hold a door open. Since a man paid for a meal just because he can. At least I can’t remember a man other than my dad doing it, but I saw that in Michigan this weekend. Nate treated us so generously, and so did his friends. With warm welcomes and open arms, they were such genuine people. I am so proud to know such people. I have the best luck in finding friends.

This year started off with new and old friends (good job to whomever wrote auld lang syne, ya hit that nail on the head for the New Year) in a reunion…I hope the rest of 2012 follows in those steps. Tonight I’m feeling hopeful for the new year, in knowing there are good men in the world that are kind and genuine.

 

rise above the ‘ehh’

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I am so proud to be who I am. Growing up, I hated who I was. I was insecure and always striving for the impossible. I’m still insecure, but the things I know I can do, I know in full fervor. I have a clear path after graduation. I know exactly where I want to be and I know exactly where I’m hoping to go in the future. I know so many people who dream, but will never go after them. That’s devastating to me.

Please readers, do me a personal favor and chase your dreams whole heartedly. There is no greater disservice you can do to yourself than not.

I’m proud of myself, but I’m so proud of the people in my life. I am a traveler, and many of my friends are too. Of those of us that studied together in Thessaloniki, many of us have continued to travel.

My friend Vana, now lives in South Korea, teaching english there. My friend Jill just got back from a year in Italy. My friend Sam continues to pursue her dreams in Brazil. I am so proud of these ladies. They are travelers, and they’re not afraid to take chances, to go down untraveled paths to what they truly want. I can relate.

I can name on one hand how many people that have a plan for after graduation. It baffles my mind. Pick what you love and go after it. After graduation solved. There are so many people out there that don’t know or don’t care. They’re up in the air, they throw their shoulders up and say -“ehh”, like whatever works out will be good enough. I am not a settler. Neither are the ladies that I listed above.  If I’m not in love with the decision I make, I don’t make it. That applies to all aspects of my life; from relationships, to shopping, to my career. If it’s not a 100% answer, I don’t do it.

So for those of you out there that just feel ehh, think about it. Think of what it’s going to take for you to wake up every day and be happy to be alive. I honestly believe that everyone has the capabilities to achieve their dreams. I know people that do it every day. My friend Norris who trains every day for his chance at a gold medal in the Olympics. Friends who won’t stop with just enough. I’m one of those people, and you can be too.

Enough isn’t good enough. Take the risk people. Stop sitting on your laurels. Don’t blame your situation.

Rise above it. Make your dreams come true. 

How many times did Disney tell you dreams come true? A zillion and one, right? I’m not so sure about the whole relationship portion of that stuff, but I do know dreams come true. The first step to that is believing in your own dreams. Give flight to those dreams. You are capable.  Now, stop settling and go dream.

Just like Paul

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“But, brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought) out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you- certainly, I, Paul, did, again and again but Satan stopped us.”  “But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.”  “How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?”

1 Thessalonians 2:17, 3:6 and 3:9

This is how I feel, over 2000 years later. I have brothers and sisters in Thessaloniki, and I have some of them in the United States. I miss them like we were torn away. I have the same intense longing that the Apostle Paul had. I constantly want to go back, as did Paul, but so much stood in the way. Frickin Satan and bad flight prices.

I know the feeling of being town away. I was the first flight out of Thessaloniki on June 6, 2009. My flight left at 6 am, and I was out until 4 crying and attempting to say my goodbyes. That was one of the worst nights in my life.

smiling through all the tears

I felt as though I left my entire heart in Greece. Every time I go back, it gets a little bit easier to leave again. But that first time was brutal. In Thessaloniki, there’s the White Tower– the city’s most famous structure- which is what you see in the banner at the top of this page. The night I left Thessaloniki, I was at a place called Dogs, where many of us frequented. Dogs is on the port and just a few blocks away from the White Tower. The night I left my best friends at Dogs, I passed by the tower in my cab, but I never saw it…my tears were coming too thick.

I was torn from everything I knew for six months. I was torn from the people, the places, the culture and food that I loved. I’ve now been back to Greece twice since 2009 and my love affair still continues. Today, it’s easier though, because I have my very own Timothy’s. I’ve said in past posts that I have two friends living in Thessaloniki now, and they are my messengers. They remind me so much of my fond memories there, and constantly send me love from Greece.

I look back at my time in Thessaloniki like it didn’t actually happen. It was truly a dream to me. Everything I did, everything I saw and everyone I met, I loved…with exception to one crazy girl in our program.  I still keep in close contact with my friends in Thessaloniki and around the U.S. that shared in the love Greece gave us.

We’re part of a family that can’t be touched, so similar to the Christian brotherhood Paul built in Thessaloniki. It’s on a day like today I just love that these verses are in 1st Thessalonians. When I have a day that’s hard and I miss Greece like crazy, I always go to Thessalonians and read. It’s a comfort to know that more than just my friends and I felt the same way leaving this perfect place.  I constantly think about how I could thank God for what I was given. The opportunity to meet and love so many amazing people. The ability to live on my own and prosper in a country completely foreign to myself. I can’t thank God enough for what he gave me. For the joy I was brought through everyone in Greece.

My joy is in travel. I’m blessed with that calling, and I know so many of my wonderful friends here and there feel the same way. We were given our own family while in Greece, and we’ll do anything to keep it alive. Just like Paul.