Who do these eyes belong to? Click here to find out: The Evil Eye
Less than twenty-four hours in Athens, and I was feeling rather proud of myself…wait, this feeling was more than pride; it was arrogance. I had managed to pull myself out of bed at 10:00am (midnight California time), drag myself through the heat to the trolley, ride to the center, and pick up the numbered white slip of paper from the machine at the National Bank. Being the only traveler who still uses travelers checks has its advantages. Although the twenty Euro charge per exchange is a bit hard to swallow, when one is paying rent, that translates to less than two percent—and it’s rare to find a debit card that allows more than $1000 (translated, 690 Euros) withdrawal per day. Even better, what used to be a four-hour stent at the bank is now accomplished in less than one. The exchange had gone without a hitch (job longevity, a third advantage, means the same two tellers for the last fifteen-plus years—so they both knew me already…helpful when you’re handing over $2100). The Euro prize was now safely stored in my money belt—which could only be stolen through personal violation.
I was seated in my usual chair at the cheap but good coffee shop Gregoris (which roughly translates “the one who is quick/prompt/fast”), sipping my cold frappe (with milk, no sugar), eating my cinnamon and powdered sugar-drenched bougatsa (crème pastry) and reflecting on how well my morning had gone. Barely noon, and I had accomplished so much. But, wait, something was off. What was it? Something was different. Surely this was just a trick of my mind—the same trick that made me check my personal belongings repetitively in the Frankfurt airport during my four-hour layover. It felt like I was missing something…but, no, it was just lack of sleep and that ungrounded, uprooted feeling. It didn’t help that my mind and spirit were in Athens from the beginning of the fires, days before my body joined the rest of me.
No, something was different. I looked up and saw this:
“We kept the enjoyment; we left the cigarette.”
Oh my God! No smoke!! I could breathe. It wasn’t a fantasy. It had actually happened—the taste of a pastry, of a coffee, unsmoked!
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