These past few days have been some of the most hectic, jam-packed, work-filled and eventful days of the entire trip. Here’s a quick recap of all the things I didn’t have a chance to blog about:
- Friday: Our professor from the American College of Thessaloniki, Evon, took us to the Documenta contemporary art exhibition. My conclusion was that contemporary art is pretty much not art, because anything can be art, so is anything art? Example: there were tiny statues of men with rakes completely covered in fur, one of which had a bear head attached to the rake. If I had brought my Ewok Build-a-Bear with me to the museum, I think I could have set him down on a corner somewhere and people would have taken photos.
My favorite installation was this pile of garbage…
Literally. A pile of garbage. I saw this after we discussed the deep meanings of some of the other art pieces in the museum, so I took a few guesses at its potential symbolism. My first thought was that by putting trash somewhere it doesn’t seem to belong, i.e. in a giant pile in the middle of an art museum, it would make people think about the fact that garbage doesn’t really belong anywhere. Seeing trash in an art museum should induce the same shock as if we saw it in the ocean, or massed in an area that was previously full of nature, or strewn across the lawns of parks. So, I suppose the purpose is to make people think about the trash they dispose of and what it does to the planet. But, again, anything is art and its meaning is up for interpretation.
- Saturday: Evon took us to another art exhibition called “Urban Fictions for Possible Futures” which had an odd collection of student projects based on what they saw as potential futures. These were all completely unique and addressed themes such as technology and the environment. The best project by far was Kitty AI, a video project featuring an artificial intelligence cat that hypnotically tells you how it came to be and describes the situation of the potential future world. The digital cat narrates the story while the scene behind it changes constantly to reflect what it is saying, but the visuals were like hallucinations. For example, near the end of the video, Kitty AI talks about a politician-free zone and the heads of international heads of state begin to float in masses behind the digital cat’s head. Kitty AI was both intriguing and disturbing. I watched the video three times.
- Saturday night: I went to Athens Pride in one of the city squares with friends. Though I’ve lived in ever-progressive Seattle and have supported gay rights ever since I began forming political opinions, I have never been to any Pride festivities. I was excited to have the chance to do so for the first time in Athens. We missed the parade, but as we stood at the back of the crowd during the Pride concert, I didn’t feel as though I had missed out on anything. I had an orange, slushy drink in my hand, a plastic heart jewel on my cheek and friends surrounding me as we danced and sang along to covers of songs in English, Greek, French and Spanish. Everything was well.
- Sunday: This was the first (and only) day I went to Carlene’s apartment to edit. It turns out Carlene lives behind a gremlin door on the weekends. When I arrived with Gwen, my co-writer, to the street we were supposed to be on, we wandered aimlessly for nearly 30 minutes before we determined that we had the wrong house number and went searching for the right one. When we saw the red “22” label near the top of a tall, latticed metal wall, we could not believe what we were looking at. The door in the wall was half my height and didn’t open from either side without a key. I was incredulous when another student opened the door for us and couldn’t believe I was walking into what seemed to be the perfect scene for a horror movie. Despite the concerning welcome, the apartment itself was beautiful, with lovely couches, a full kitchen and bathroom, and a large deck with a view of the Acropolis. I didn’t mind editing and hanging around with a view like that.
- Monday: Packing. Final class and group dinner. Lots of laughs and last-minute edits.
- Tuesday (really, really early) morning: Sitting at the airport, writing this blog, after a long car ride alone and a short trip through security. I am grateful to have an earlier flight than everyone else. There’s something soothing about flying alone, and something empowering about being on your time rather than operating on a group schedule.
Just five weeks ago at this point in my journey to Greece, I sat in a restaurant area of Logan International Airport with Asia, who would be my fun-loving and constantly pants-less roommate; David, who I would later watch Dirty Dancing with on an off night in our “newsroom” in Thessaloniki, along with another friend, Sydne; and Gwen, who would eventually become my partner in writing a 3,500-word story about Greece’s Syrian refugee crisis. It seems crazy that I knew nothing about these people five weeks ago, but now I could tell you their catch phrases and identify their laughs from across the hall.
It has been a crazy few days. I worked hard, but never felt overwhelmed. My stories were on difficult subjects, but I always felt capable. And now, as I sit on a blue plastic chair in the airport, still a little bit nauseous from the car ride over, with my stories fully edited and awaiting publication, I feel accomplished. I survived Greece, I thrived in it. I tried new foods and went new places and spoke with people in languages other than my own. I produced three works of journalism that I am proud of. I met (nearly) all my deadlines. And I successfully downloaded the Uber app, got myself to the airport and through security. In approximately 16 hours, I will be home.
As a flight attendant begins to make announcements over the loudspeaker and the sun begins to rise on the horizon, I am increasingly anxious and my writing talent is beginning to diminish. I am excited to reflect on Greece once more, maybe after I have slept and eaten my first meal in the United States. Until then, I am signing off from Greece. Stay tuned for my two stories, to be published on the group blog in the next couple of days.