September 13th, 2021.
There will always be a part of me attached to the Mediterranean sea. I spent too many days under the bright Greek, French, Croatian or Turkish sun as a kid.
Every other year, the waters of this cradle of civilizations has seen my family go out into its old bays. That sea has seen my sister and me grow. It has seen my parents age, and it will see them get old. Renting a sailboat and dropping the anchor near the shore of its islands was something that defined our family “quality time” the best, at least in my view.
The first trip I did there, Julie wasn’t born. My dad remembers it well as I got sick and vomited all over his shirt as he was holding me. I wasn’t more than two years old. Then, I remember a time were my sister and I were so small my parents had to attach us to the boat to avoid us slipping overboard. Later, I recall my sister jumping in the water as she couldn’t handle the wait as my parents were anchoring, and me saying: “Maman, maman, Julie has jumped!”. I remember one specific taverna near Göçek in Turkey that I will always be able to find on a map, were we went twice, four years apart, because the food was so good, the people so nice, and the waters so crystal. I recall the waves of gigantic ships in the Lefkas canal, making us giggle at the bow. I remember the countless dolphins playing with our hull. I remember us having engine issue in Croatia and having to switch batteries, but also going into an inner lake after passing a canal and anchoring in front of a vibrant waterfall. The laugh of my dad as my mom annoyed him a little as he caught one more plastic bag, but still no fish for dinner. The crazy card games my sister and I would do at night, constructing monstruous ephemeral castles on a moving ship, astonished of how high we could go. I remember Santorini and its white buildings. Its cliffs that were still haunted by the end of the Minoan civilization it had destroyed. Cleopatra’s and Marc Anthony’s beach as they were chased by the Roman Empire. I remember the moments we had to improvise, too. That night my dad and I stayed up because the wind was shifting from north to south, and when we discussed everything and nothing. That time when we had a bad anchor that wouldn’t stop drifting, and we had to fork it with a second one time over and over, but somehow working together and strengthening our bond. The crazy winds we got in the Cyclades islands, where the sand would fly off the nearby beach on our boat. When our toilets were so clogged the valve exploded to my dad’s face and painted the walls. When my mom jumped overboard to clear up the speed indicator, and the big fin we saw surface right after she had come out of the water. The countless sunsets. Exploring the nearby cliffs swimming. Going over the ruins of the Mesopotamian civilization near the seven capes of Turkey’s southwestern coast.
We all have our anchors. Mines are in the Mediterranean sea and on the summits of the Alps. When I wrote my small Rupi-Kaur-inspired “Shallow Water”, it was as a metaphor of us dropping these anchors near unknown lands. Finding each other, and letting the anchors get deeper into the ground as the months and the years passed.
I started this letter yesterday, a bit emotional of leaving my parents behind. I am finishing it now, sitting at Heathrow airport, waiting for my flight back to the new world, and to you. It is crazy how much three weeks away from you can seem long, but how short it seems when I think about the people I love on this side of the world.
The life we have chosen is not the simplest one, but it is a beautiful one.
The two of us have this rare situation of coming from two different continents and living in a third one. Our relations are Earth-spanning, which is not the case of everyone. Let’s make it an opportunity. As time continues its ineluctable march forward, we can decide to take advantage of such situation. Travel more. Spend more quality time with our relations and family abroad, even if that time is shorter. Make them travel to us. Thrive towards gumption – to make sure every minute we have is productive, enjoyable, and of the best value.
There are three main quotes that somehow made it close to my heart. I accumulated them over the years. There are more of them, but each of these three touch a different aspect. One is for hope and faith:
Another one is all about ensuring I do the best I can with the little time I have:
Finally, the last one, a bit atypical, is to remind myself how easier things are with a positive attitude, and how this one can radiate to others and influence the world around us:
So, let’s have bold plans, and remember that we can achieve them. Let’s make sure we do not sacrifice the journey, to make our time here as enjoyable as we can. And let’s laugh, kiss, and love.