I’ve been around the world and I have seen your love…
Mykonos, Greece When you travel as often as I do, it’s very easy to start taking it for granted. It’s very easy to forget that most people will not do the things or see the places in their lifetime that I will in a single year. And I’m not just saying that to be a dick! I mean, I’d like to think I’m pretty good about being grateful for my current circumstances, and of course, my world-spanning 74 hockey rinks, too. However, leading up to this particular journey to Greece, I was really starting to view going away as more of a burden than anything else.
It was probably the fact that I had just come off an exhausting finale to the offseason. I was just getting over my west coast roadie and adjusting to life back in the desert, when it was already time to leave again. I was uncharacteristically lazy about preparing for my 13 days in Greece. I couldn’t be bothered to research anything to do or even book my hotel rooms. I decided to do the whole thing off-the-cuff, likely because I wasn’t viewing this vacation as a totally-awesome-super-fun Greek adventure, but rather a necessary commute to bacon, bathtubs, hair salons and abaya-free living.
My first two days in Athens were spent in bed. I have no idea why, but I crashed. Maybe it was the fact that I had been working double for 4 weeks straight, and once I arrived in the sanctity of my hotel room my body determined it was safe to finally shutdown and recharge. I kept trying to will myself to get out and do something, but I learned pretty fast that forcing it wasn’t going to make it happen. At one point I did manage to get myself out of bed and out onto the streets in search of water and supplies, but I was like a zombie, or in the very least a drunkard trying to walk a straight line unsuccessfully. I just needed sleep, and as a result I didn’t do a fraction of the things I wanted to do in such an interesting city.
Next I was off to the islands a.k.a. the land of honeymooners and romantic getaways. Don’t get me wrong, the sights and the beaches were amazing, but there was a serious lack of excitement going on in my life. I was (and am) still holding firm on the resolution I made on the Southern California portion of my west coast roadie to swear off all naughtiness of the meaningless variety, which basically meant that I was eating early dinners for one, and finding myself in bed alone by 9 every night! I was starting to think that my Greek adventure (if you can even call it that) was going to be one of the first trips I have taken where I didn’t come away with an interesting story at the end of it all. But then tonight it finally hit me – the story to come from this experience wasn’t actually my own.
Perhaps it was the fact that they were the only demographic of people whose stories could rival my own, or perhaps it was the simple fact that we shared the same dinner and bedtimes, but I found myself spending a lot of time in the company of retirees and seniors over the course of this trip. They managed to put a couple things in perspective for me, namely that in a lifetime we actually have many lives to live.
If there’s one thing I realized in my late 20’s, it’s that I really should have listened to my elders. No matter how old fashioned or out of touch my crazy Spanish grandmother always seemed to be, looking back she was always right. I remember my first week of university. She made a point to give me some serious advice about attracting a man because if I didn’t land one by the time I finished my degree, then I was basically fucked. “Let me tell you what you do. You see a nice looking man, then you go to him, ‘Excuse meeeeee do you know where is the library?’ Very sweetly, always sweet. Even if you know where the library is, you pretend you don’t! You pretend you don’t know anything!” Then she tossed her head in a ditzy manner that I assume was supposed to be flirtatious.
Of course, I just rolled my eyes at her and thought that the men of my generation didn’t actually fall for (or go for) the stupid female routine. But as my 20’s came around, and then my mid-20’s, it became painfully clear that my crazy Spanish grandmother wasn’t so crazy after all, and that a surprisingly large number of men actually prefer their women to be airheads. Yes, even the smart guys! Sadly, some women give in and dumb it down, while the rest of us hope that there is an Adonis or two floating around out there, who actually considers it a measure of his own worth to earn the respect and affection of a woman he regards as strong and intelligent (which it is).
So you’re probably wondering what shitty guys and dumb broads have to do with my new membership to the 65+ club. Well, society and even “science” like to promote that women are no longer attractive to men once they hit 30. Yes, there are “studies” that “prove” this, which naturally causes a lot of women to buckle under the social pressure of not being tied down at an early age. As a result, life choices are made out of haste and for the wrong reasons. And for those of us who refuse to bat our eyelashes and pretend we don’t know how to get to the library, the outlook is much worse. We are basically programmed to believe that if we haven’t locked down a man by our early 30’s, we need to start making other arrangements, like cat ownership. Many fear that romantic happiness and having a life is a one-or-the-other decision – and even I half believed it too!
That’s what I found so interesting about the 4 retired couples I spent time with in Greece. They all had one thing in common – they had only been together for 2 or 3 years! There was the couple from Belgium who had just been married on Crete and were making their way around the islands as part of their honeymoon. The couple from Texas who met doing amateur dance competitions as a hobby. There was a couple from Oregon, who had taken a chance on match.com two years before, and were now traveling through the Mediterranean together. And there was a fellow Torontonian, who decided to better herself after retirement and moved to Italy to learn the language, only to fall in love with her billet – how romantic! He doesn’t speak English, so I don’t have much to say about him. Anyway, here were 8 people who had multiple lives, multiple careers and multiple loves, and I found myself a lot more excited and positive about my own future just from meeting them and hearing their stories.
Imagine how amazing life could be if we would all get it into our heads to just fucking listen to old people when they are speaking and learn from their mistakes instead of making our own. Imagine if we could live our adult lives not caring (and I mean really, truly not caring) about what people think about us or our choices. What if we didn’t make decisions based on our “image,” and just knew (and truly believed) that the people who sincerely love us will support us no matter what? But, of course, youth is stubborn, and we will continue to make poor decisions, do the wrong things, worry about our image and reputation, and sleep with the wrong people. Hey, there’s a lot of fun to be had making mistakes! So, if I was to take away one thing from my trip to Greece and share it with you, it would be this – life doesn’t end when you fuck up or when your heart breaks. Life goes on and sometimes even starts over. Over the past two weeks I was lucky enough to meet 8 amazing people who were living proof that the best days of your life are always, always, always ahead of you, and never behind you. I don’t know about you, but that makes me pretty damn excited about where my life could be going because I have some epic days behind me as it is! Of course, you already knew that, though…
P.S. Happy Opening Night Eve, hockey fans! (It’s October 7th in Greece)