A Love Poem

I can feel you slipping away again.

Though I still cannot resist
And reach out every time I pass by you
To see
If we have another couple of days together.
And though I take you home
I am not fooled
You are not as sweet to me as you were even a month ago.

I am such a fool.
It’s not like this is the first time.
You always show up when it’s time to play,
And remind me of picnics,
And exotic holidays,
In far away places.
And every year, I am swept away.

I resent even the slightest suggestion that I share you with others.
You are here for such a short time.
And I have waited all year.
You make me feel like a child guarding her things.
So, I share.
And make sure no one takes too much
Of what is rightfully mine.

It is hard not to feel justified in this
Right now
As you become a paler version of yourself.

You will be totally gone soon.
Though pretenders will still appear
And try to convince me they are every bit as good as you.
But they are not.
I know this.
And I will wait.

I can wait for the next watermelon season.


Finally, a Personal Reason to Celebrate Independence Day.

I confess that I have not been a big fan of the Fourth of July celebration for the past decade or so.

I go through the motions. I sweat it out watching fireworks. I do the picnics. But my heart just has not been in it. I haven’t really given it that much thought until this year.

I love the fact that I live in the United States, the land of opportunity. I appreciate the freedoms we have and truly value those who have fought for them. Yesterday, I began to wonder why it is that I don’t feel connected to this holiday. Then I heard the cloying lyrics to “I’m Proud to be an American” bleating out of the speakers at the grocery store. Suddenly, it all became clear.

I have no problem at all with being proud of being an American…but I do take issue with sentiments that alienate us from everyone else. I have a problem with jingoism and national pride taken to the extreme. Those who would take our luck of the draw on being born under the government that we have been as some sort of indication of individual superiority. But there is something worth celebrating today. I had forgotten it.

235 years ago today, our founding fathers did something so wildly daring and extreme that it boggles the mind. They spoke on behalf of the colonies and said, to the most powerful government in the world at the time, “ENOUGH!” They announced their intent to separate from the oppressive rule of the British monarchy, even though we were clearly no match for their force. The odds were against us, but the colonies had the strength of their conviction. And that conviction was strong enough for them to commit to something that would certainly result in countless deaths and the likelihood of defeat. A betting man would not have picked the freshly united colonies to win this battle. But win they did. Although, the very act of writing and signing the Declaration of Independence, given those odds, is enough reason to for celebration.

So, today, I am celebrating that spirit. I celebrate the spirit of rising up and fighting for what is right, even though the odds are against you. I am celebrating those who made a pact to stand together in the face of almost certain defeat to defend their right, and each other’s, to have a voice in how they are governed. I am celebrating that union of brothers and sisters, who had so much faith in their mission that they were willing to cast aside the comfort of what they knew to pursue something more authentically representative of who they had become together. I salute those who recognized that “united we stand and divided we fall.” That is a sentiment that has the power to reach around the entire world to embrace everyone who faces tyranny of any kind.

And that is a sentiment worthy of fireworks.



Strikes and Protests in Athens and Airport Delays

“Um, let’s find out where we need to check in.” I smiled sheepishly as Tina rolls her eyes.

“Uh, no coffee…no independent thinking.” I respond to her eye rolling. On two hours of sleep and no caffeine, my brain was parked. Tina had returned our rental car, and I had not moved from the place she had deposited us to wait. And, obediently (or cluelessly, depending on your perspective)adas parked. Tina was returninghavet of the world, to learn what a democracy as old as yours does with a challenge like this. I. . our motley crew, stood there still…three kids, five bags, sweaters, pillows and carry-ons.

I was thrilled to see that there were only four people in front of us in line at Cyprus Airways. In retrospect, I might have guessed that, at this time of year in Europe, this was not a good sign.

“Did no one contact you?” the woman at the counter looked incredulous. Somewhere in the blurred areas of my brain, I suddenly remembered an overheard conversation in a kiosk a couple of days ago about some kind of protests in Athens. The “what-are-you-doing-here?” look on the woman’s face was now making me nervous.

Over the next six hours, the kids surfed the internet, played games, read and bought giant packages of watermelon flavored gum (“they only had it in this size!”) while we called around and exhausted every single option available to us to make our way home.

“The very earliest flight I can get you on to Houston is July 1st at 11:20,” the woman on the phone offered me, from the Delta offices in Turkey, the only Delta number I could reach. Hours later, Haley would say to me “I can’t believe there was no way for us to get home today.” I confess that, in this moment on the phone with someone offering me a less than ideal solution, I was feeling a little…um…American indignance. Damn it, we can make anything happen! Why am I still standing here? I caught myself. Not my proudest moment.

“Yeah, ok, book us for that flight.” I say, at least in this condensed version of the story. The various permutations and options were calculated for hours. In the end, we piled back into a rental car and drove the little beach in Voroklini (just outside Larnaka) and the kiosk with the Keos and Lountza Halloumi sandwiches…and recovered ourselves.

I should end it here. It is a much more dramatic ending than the one that follows, which is a secret I will tell you that is really not that much of a secret. I do wish I were home now. I am frazzled quite to the core. I am sad for the kids who, while totally awesome about the making the most of their additional time here, are truly homesick after more than three weeks and really did want to get back. But it would be a lie by omission for me not to add that I am just a little excited that our plans were disrupted by something as truly incredible as the world’s oldest democracy demonstrating its voice in this way. That three weeks ago, I took photos of the beginnings of this, without knowing what it was, makes my heart race a little.

Something momentous and world changing is taking place and we are close to it…disrupted by it…inconvenienced and made to stand still for it. It is really no hardship for us to stay three additional days in this lovely country with our incredible hosts…but I feel honored to have my activity halted by these groups of citizens in Athens, raising their voices…because they can. I am thrilled to have our flight cancelled in response to the activity of those who have been for the past 30 days, holding vigil in front of the Parliament to make it clear where they stand on this issue, and that they stand together on it. The fact that they are not asking for anything specific…the fact that the situation is complex and overwhelming is irrelevant. The people’s dedication to being heard on this issue is inspiring to me. And I say that as someone who lives in a country heading in the same financial direction as Greece. That this has happened here first is not really a surprise. In issues of politics, they have always gone first.

If it is possible, Athens, I would like to return to my home on Friday, July 1st. But on this weekend before our own Independence Day, I don’t feel comfortable throwing about demands on this. If I am home on our holiday, however, I will be toasting you and your fight to keep the voice of the masses heard in the mix of parliamentary action.

And I will be watching, with the rest of the world, to learn what a democracy as old as yours does with a challenge like this.