I was talking to my sister the other day — not an unusual occurrence, we talk every day; in fact, last week she called me five times in one day, and during the few hours we weren’t talking, I really missed her.
Anyway, I was telling my sister how surprised I am by other people’s surprise over my trips to Greece. Whenever I say I’m going to Greece, whomever I’m talking to will ask me why. Without fail. It’s a real questioning why — like I’d just said I was going to Outer Mongolia or Pittsburgh. Even people who claim to know me well ask this. Even before the economic downfall, people asked me this.
“I’m going to Greece.”
If someone told me they were going to Tuscany or the South of France, I wouldn’t ask why, rather, I’d try to instill in them the importance of taking me along. To me Greece is no less obvious. Nay, even more so.
I’ve learned a couple of things over the years. I’ve learned that telling an American man you’re going to Greece is the same thing as directly challenging his manhood. It could be any American guy — your butcher, your neighbor, your mailman. For some reason, southern european men strike fear in the hearts of anglos everywhere. I don’t even attempt to understand this. Maybe it’s just American men, or just the men I happen to know, but if I cite scholarly reasons for my trips, or tell them I’m on a quest, they are visibly relieved. I once riled up a whole table of men by telling them I was going to Greece just to hang out with the descendants of Greek Gods. I did it on purpose.
Women, on the other hand, have a difficult time accepting a trip that has nothing to do with a man. I hate to generalize my own gender, but most women see the world through the tunnel vision of their relationships. If I cite a scholarly reason, or any other reason, women will not believe me. Why do I keep going to Greece? A quest? There must be a man I’m going to meet, or hope to meet, or have met already. Why else would I go?
Going to a foreign country because you happen to be in love with someone in that country is the very best reason to go. The very best reason. But it’s not my reason. How to explain this to womankind?
As I was talking this through with my sister, I remembered being asked the same questions about Italy.
In terms of relationships, I guess this is the best way I can explain it:
America is my husband; Italy is my lover; Greece is my soulmate.
It sort of begs another question — is it possible for one person, or one place, to be all three at once?
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