I landed at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport last night at about 7:30pm. I was returning from a trip to Greece, arguably one of the laziest countries in the world today. (Fun story: When I landed in Europe on the way there they forgot to stamp my passport. When I was leaving to go back home we had to switch planes in Germany. The woman working at passport control saw that I hadn’t been given a stamp on the way in and it was a problem. She said “where are you coming from?”. I told her Greece and she replied “Ah, that is a problem. They did not give you a stamp. The Greeks are very lazy. Also, the Italians too”. It was a funny moment.) After spending 23 days in Europe, and 22 of those days in the laziest country in Europe I came out with a feeling I haven’t had in a long time; relaxation. I got some perspective and learned a few things about myself. It was a much needed trip and now that I’m on my way back into work as I write this, I want to mull over some of the things I discovered during this incredibly relaxing trip.
Every family is “screwed up”
For the majority of the trip I stayed with my grandparents from my dad’s side of the family who also happen to live directly next door to my aunt and uncle along with their kids, my cousins. I always put that side of the family on a pedestal. I love my mother’s side of the family but my grandparent’s on my dad’s side came to the U.S. when I was born and helped raise me until I was six years old at which time they went back to live in Greece. It was grandmother, who still doesn’t speak a word of English, that I credit with my being totally fluent in the Greek language. That side of the family always seemed so much warmer, loving, and welcoming compared to my mother’s side of the family. I also think the fact that they helped raise me during a very important time in a child’s life contributes to how I see them as another set of parents to me.
That said, they have their flaws like anyone else. I’m able to take a trip to Greece to see them about every four years. This was the first time I’ve visited that I’ve been old enough to see my family without my usual rose-colored glasses. I see that my grandfather is where I get my anxiety from. I saw his flaws which I really don’t want to go into. I also saw how my grandmother is helpful to a fault. This would normally be a good thing but she’s going to kill herself at the expense of helping others without caring for her own health among other things which, again, I don’t want to get into in too much detail in public. My uncle and his family are flawed as well – far more than anyone else over there.
When I first saw this I was disappointed. My image of them being perfect people had been shattered and I was a bit upset for about a week. And then I realized that despite all their flaws they love me just the same and whatever problems they may have they’re still more a family to me than anything else I have here in the States. They’re wonderful, good hearted people who would do anything for me and who I would also do anything for. They may act ignorant and like assholes at times but it doesn’t change the fact that they all love each other. The fact that my image of them was shattered was more upsetting than anything they are or do at the end of the day. At the end of the day they’re still my family and I accept them all no matter what. Any disappointment I may have felt has turned to hope that they’ll change what’s wrong and keep what’s good.
Our parents won’t live forever
My mother and father are still quite young (late 40’s and early 50’s) but my grandparents, who I consider my second parents, are now in their 80’s. Despite not seeing them very often they’re my favorite people in this entire world who I would literally kill for if they asked (or if they didn’t, just for thrills). But they’re getting really old, and there’s no ignoring the fact that they’re both sick and on their way out. That’s life – the worst part of life too. So my attitude was to enjoy them for whatever time I could, learn a thing or two, and when they do leave know that I learned everything I could from them.
There’s no place like home
Greece is a beautiful country. Yes, the economy is total dog shit and Athens and it’s surrounding suburbs can seem like a third world country at times, but beyond that the country is completely unique in its beauty.
It looks like I’m not going to finish this post. Its been a while since I started it and I kind of lost what I was trying to say. So here it is anyway, unfinished and half a thought.