Friday, August 16, 2013
How my world began to grow
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 10:14 pm
July 2001. Paris.
The train rushed out of Paris at a speed that made the lights of the suburbs blur, or at least that’s how I remember it to be. We stood by an open window with the wind on our faces and the thrill of being there rushed into my heart at a similar speed, making the fear and the worry and the loneliness that had been residing there blur as well. I was on a train leaving Paris at midnight. That fact alone was enough to send goosebumps down my arms.
You could, somewhat arbitrarily but no less truthfully for that, say that this was the moment I was born into my new life — tired, heartbroken, and excited. For years, this had been the kind of thing I didn’t even dream of but longed for occasionally; the kind of thing that I considered out of the reach of my young-university-student-in-northern-Greece self; the kind of thing other people did, people I sort of hoped to grow into one day. And suddenly there I was, in France, on the train, moving oh so fast into the night, my old life in tatters all around me, my new one as yet unknown to me.
A few weeks before that I had sat in a patch of struggling grass in my northern-Greek-hometown with my young-university-student friend and asked him to come on a trip to Europe with me. “But wouldn’t you rather we went to a Greek island?” he replied, which I very much wouldn’t. That day I walked home in the heat feeling forlorn in every sense of the word –sad and lonely and abandoned– because for once I had the money to go on my dream holiday, and, as usual, I had no one to go with.
Twelve years later –a few weeks ago, in fact– he reminded me of this moment and all I could do was laugh and thank him sincerely from the bottom of my heart, because without his refusal to come with me I would never have been desperate enough to make plans with an almost-stranger on the internet, an almost-stranger with a story that was different-but-similar to mine, an almost-stranger that apparently shared enough of my dreams and my craziness to be found next to me in the dark corridor, as the train rushed out of Paris at a speed that made the lights of the suburbs blur, as we stood there with the wind on our faces and years of yet-undreamed-of adventures ahead of us, as my world began to grow.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Halfway across the world
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 10:53 pm
June 2001. Thessaloniki.
He ran to close the windows because of an approaching thunderstorm. There is nothing special about this in itself: thunderstorms come, people go and close windows. It’s an ordinary enough experience. What was not-so-ordinary this time around was that he was in Boston, halfway across the world from where I was sitting, and we had been having a conversation. I had struck a conversation with a perfect stranger on the internet over a song by a band I did not know, and it had turned out to be lovely.
In fact, in a display of serendipity or generosity or grace on the part of the universe that was as spectacular as it looked unremarkable, all of them turned out to be lovely, the song and the conversation, the band and the stranger. The song captured something of the pain I had pushed to the back of my heart, and so made it a bit easier to carry; I would grow to love the band so much I would end up naming a three-year-long adventure after another one of their songs; the stranger would end up inviting me to visit him across the ocean, which I would never do; and the conversation, oh, the conversation was my first encounter with that inexplicable, miraculous experience of truly meeting someone on the internet — of how, against all odds and expectations, this can work better on the internet than it does in real life.
Michael and I didn’t become best friends. He didn’t even stay in my life for long. He hang around for a while, said something lovely things, then faded out; a year later I sought him out again and we repeated this —he hang around for a while, said some lovely things, faded out– and that was the end of that. But despite the briefness and the ephemeralness of these connections there was something in them: something in the way that they sprouted and blossomed, so unexpectedly; something in the way that they sparkled and shone, so brightly; something I didn’t know existed but which I seemed to have been looking for nonetheless. Something that made me smile widely to myself as I sat alone in front of the computer screen, as he ran to close the windows.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
The start of something
posted by Dimitra Daisy @ 9:43 pm
June 2001. Thessaloniki.
I ran up and down the corridor, so full of joy that it was overflowing; I simply couldn’t help it, I had to run. I ran up and down the corridor like little children do, or like my puppy would, later, when he came to live with us. I ran up and down the corridor, thinking ‘they like me they like me they like me,’ disbelief and relief and excitement mixing in my heart, all framed by the improbable but quietly insistent idea, lingering somewhere in the back of my head, that this was the beginning of a new era in my life.
This was just as well — I really needed a new era. Everything I’d known and loved and relied upon was falling apart or losing its meaning, or both. I did not understand why it had to be like this, and it scared me so much I could only think about it in short bursts, but I knew it; and I knew I had to find a way out of the life that I had had, or go down with it. I did not want to go down with it, this I also knew, and so I looked for a way out with all the determination and hope my broken heart could muster — which was rather a lot. What people perceived as my braveness and adventurousness later that summer was fuelled, largely, by a desperate need to reinvent myself.
So when I packed up the story of the previous few years’ birthdays, labelled it ‘My life in six wishes’ and posted it off to a large number of mysterious strangers on the internet –all claiming to be as interested as I was in that equally mysterious thing, ‘life as Belle and Sebastian fan’– I must have put some of myself in it, and it must have shone a little, because there I was, running up and down the corridor; and pausing, breathless, to attempt to explain to my puzzled mother why it was that the fact that five people wrote back to say that they liked what I said meant quite so much.
I wrote something, and five people wrote back to say that it had touched them. Much more than I knew at the time, this was indeed the start of something.
If Honey (without whom the large number of mysterious strangers that was known as the Sinister mailing list would never have come together) or Linda (who was one of the five people who wrote to me) are still hanging around after all this time I would like to say this one more time: thank you, and thank you, and thank you. ‘The start of something’ is many things, I am sure, but also a very wordy song by Voxtrot that I have loved very, very much.