My flight was at 9:40am. I woke up around 6:30 and took my time packing, pausing frequently to lean out the window and take in the final view of my little corner of the city. There's something intoxicating to me about the smell of the streets of Europe. I've always thought so. And maybe it's just the lack of vegetation and the excess of gasoline fumes, but I love it.
One last selfie in Greece outside of my hotel. The night before when Elena and Dimitris dropped me off at my hotel they said, "You know what kinissi means? It means movement." Movement is exactly how I would label my entire trip. It was non-stop, it was go-go-go. But I'd have it no other way. If you're gong to travel and explore and see the world, you have to do just that and keep moving.
I took a cab to the airport, checked in, went through security and had my last cappuccino and croissant.
I flew to Istanbul for a three hour layover. This honestly made me a bit uneasy as the day before there had been a bus bombing in the city. I recognize that airport security in such a hub has to be out of control. But living in the states, you only just hear about these places with bombings; you're never actually there and it feels distant and unreal. The reality hit me harder than I expected. But, needless to say, everything was fine for my travels.
The flight from Istanbul to Chicago was ten and a half hours. I had an aisle seat and the two men sitting in my row didn't get up once to go to the bathroom or even stretch. I don't understand this. But whatever.
Landed in Chicago around 6pm. Flew through customs, got on the Blue Line. Arrived home around 7:30. It was in the 60s, a very welcome temperature change from sweaty Greece. Neptune greeted me at the door and I was torn. Should I snuggle him on the couch or take a shower? I opted for couch. Not even ten minutes later, my brother and his wife called.
"What was the best part of your trip?!"
I was in absolutely no place to answer that question. But I've been giving it some solid thought since.
There is no one place I visited in Greece that I particularly loved above all. I had good days and I had rough days, but that isn't reflective of the location. That was emotional. I will say this though, I've never met a country filled with nicer people. Everywhere I went, people were patient, kind and generous. And, at this point, it should go without saying that the food was amazing. Everything I tried I loved. Saganaki remains my true love of the trip, but everything else was fantastic.
Looking back in retrospect. I know I that I had a hard time being in the quiet, by myself. This is not new. This is just how I am. I've spent so much of my life with someone else, leaning and being leaned on. You grow very accustomed to having someone else there, to the point that being alone is something you consciously have to seek out. And somewhere along the line, I stopped doing that. And it's made it infinitely harder for me to just sit with myself and be okay doing so.
So while I managed to temper that on the trip by going out and meeting people and trying new things, I was also avoiding myself. I don't regret how I dealt with the trip at all. In fact, I'm really proud of myself for the entire adventure. But coming home, I've gained new perspective on the fact that I still have things to work on for myself. I need to continue to sit with myself, alone, in the quiet, no matter how uncomfortable it is and just be okay. It's much easier said that done for me. But self-improvement is a constant growing experience and I'm happy to have identified my next challenge.
I waited til yesterday (one week since I've been back in Chicago) to open up the refrigerator magnet the shop owner in Delphi gave me of Artemis. I hung it up, remembering what he said. Cheesy, yes, but I'll remember his words and how transformational the trip was whenever I go to the fridge.
I can't wait for my next adventure, in town and out of town. No matter where you are, there are things to learn, life to enjoy and new ways to grow.