Like the Frozen Yogurt café frenzy on every corner in Greece, our country is on a "Greek" kick: Greek yogurt, Greek pizza, Greek everything, but what about Greek men and Greek names!
One evening last spring, while my, then, 20-year old daughter swam about doing her exercise laps along Flisvos Beach, I floated listlessly on my back under the Athens stars. I thought deeply about my passing life goals and my own financial situation in a foreign country not fairing so well. But as the warm Mediterranean Sea comforted my soul and warmed my frail body, I couldn't help but find peace.
For, despite our losses and near abject poverty, I had to laugh with my daughter and best confidant: Though I had always said, "No!" to the comment that I was in Greece because of a Greek man, I realized that evening that I truly was in Greece because of a man -- by way of teaching his child the other side of her heritage.
In that moment, I learned to appreciate that having had a machismo, hot-tempered, Greek husband wasn't so bad after all. It allowed me to achieve one of my many dreams -- being part of an older culture and sharing that culture with my family. Who could complain about a past marriage that allowed one the opportunity to live in an ancient city at the base of the beautifully lit ruins of the Parthenon -- a country that still had affordable natural and healthful food for the commoners, a location that still had clear water beaches within minutes their home where elderly natives warmly invited them to be part of their stories of old and daily routines of fitness laps and a country that strangely connected me to an iconic American woman who I admired dearly? One can only be thankful that there are "priceless" benefits to putting up with Greek tempers and Greek men, however briefly, as Maya Angelopulos must have known.
After her marriage to the Greek sailor, Anastasios Angelopulos, she too must have realized that there is some sort of value in a name as she kept his name, albeit shortened it to Angelou, creating a timeless and unique identity for herself.
But with Maya Angelou's passing last week, I was taken back to that evening I floated under the stars and scoured over my life's goals and thoughts of specifically sharing her wisdom with my Greek-based comrades. Reminiscing saddened me in that I allowed the passing of an opportunity for others to hear and connect with such a wonderfully inspiring human being to wither away. I allowed a bucket-list jewel to pass right before me. Even sadder is that I returned to my parents' home state of North Carolina and lived less than a two-hour drive from her, thus, interviewing her and sharing her -- via our online magazine, (Athens)Wing Women would have been even more possible than before.
So as I sit here living out another bucket list dream of driving a 30-ton semi-truck -- to the backdrop of one dream lost -- I am compelled to inspire women to prioritize your bucket list. If your list includes meeting a wonderful person and sharing that person, don't waste another moment!
If Greek yogurt, Greek pizza, Greek men or Greek names can be a reminder to live out your bucket list -- go for it! It is said that it is never too late, so for my Greek and American sisters still in Greece, tuning into Maya Angelou's memorial service this Saturday may be well worth your time. All I know is that life is all Greek to me... but, it is well worth grasping every positive moment and every desired goal while you can!
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