Sun Burns!

Back again to ramble, partially out of feelings of obligation, partially because I’m bored out of my mind (that’s what you get for moving to an island where your only responsibilities to live and go to school and accept the free stuff people give you). I’m finally getting sun – the weather is beautiful. About 75 and sunny every day. It’s hard to study when the beach is closer than school, but I think I’ll manage.

I made a list of funny things I miss about home the other day. It’s funny because the majority of these places/things are so small and unimportant in my life, but it’s what I miss (not the most, but you get the point). Here it is:

1. The corner in the downstairs of shriver, right between where the bank ends and the market begins, where people always are set up trying to get you involved in something else that you really don’t have time for. And sometimes they’re selling cookies. I stop at those tables.

2. The Books-A-Million in Bridgewater Falls and Chik-Fil-A milkshakes (so many hyphens, so much goodness). Bible study, where ya at?!

3. My back yard, especially at sunset. Woof.

4. Al’s Pal’s

5. The Oxford farmer’s market and the cute little band that always plays there.

6. Evenings watching crime shows with my family. They all end the same – Dad’s fallen asleep twice, Mom and I always know the ending, Matt would rather be watching Duck Dynasty.

7. Speedy Freezes, my life blood.

Island Living

Hello from the Island of White Marble – more commonly known (at least to me) as Paros! I write from a warm little apartment, more specifically, on a broken wicker-bottom chair provided for me by my landlord, Jimmy. He’s a very nice man. He takes good care of us.

I’ve officially been away from home for more than a week and boy oh boy has it been a roller coaster. Never in my life have I experienced such a vast array of emotions (in their utmost intensity) in such a short amount of time. It’s exhausting, really. But what a beautiful exhaustion it is! This place is a treasure. No kidding. The water here is the most beautiful, rich shade of teal. The whitewashed buildings only look the same until you get close, when you see the sweet, soft colors of each of their doors – my favorite so far has been a delicate lavender/gray. Beautiful.

Life is slow and steady – everyone’s up and going by 10:00, not 8:00 as I was used to. You bid one another “good morning” until 2:00 pm, when everyone closes their shutters and rests until 5:00, at which point you’re allowed to switch to “good afternoon”. It’s a late night city, Paroikia, with restaurants and bars open until far after my breathing has slowed and my dreams come alive. It would be perfect if I didn’t have the circadian rhythm of a 90 year old man.

This place is so far from anything I’ve ever lived, and yet, this is my reality for the next three months of my short life. It’s sometimes a struggle to live in today, right now. My yearning flesh leans its heavy weight on the security that my romanticized future promises. But what a thief it is! My real time is wonderful – I’m fighting to believe and rejoice there.

The hardest part thus far is not being with the souls I love so dearly and only being able to see their pixelated faces on the screens of my apple products (which I am thankful for!). Oh what I would give to wrap my arms around my Texans! My sweet family! My triad! My bible study! My team! My Maniak! But cyberspace will work for now.

You wanna know my favorite part of this whole thing? The quiet streets. The life is so evident, but unseen. It’s mysterious and inviting and coy. Paros is a whisper and I want to draw nearer to hear what it has to say. Unlike home, where there’s no missing anything, and if you miss it, you learn to deal because the world will move along without you. This place has secrets and it will wait for you to discover the missing pieces and I love that. I used to play this Nancy Drew computer game and it’s sort of like that, only with less death and explosions.

I don’t have much else to say.

A Countdown

13 days – that’s the time I have left here in the states before I embark on my euro-journey.  13 days to make sure I have everything together, 13 days to say my “see-you-laters” and cry my eyes out, 13 days to live with my sweet Texans, 13 days to go to Fairfield whenever I want, 13 days to eat Orange Leaf (fro-yo…please…Agnes…?).

And then, in 13 days, I will board a plane to London with my hilarious maternal grandmother to spend some time on those drizzly streets before hopping on another plane to Athens, and then a boat to Paros.  I’ve been on my school’s website for the past hour and my soul is literally wrenching out of my body at the beauty of this place.  Take a look:

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Seriously!?  Can you believe this?!  My brain/heart is exploding!  I get to paint and write and pray and rejoice here, people!

But my heart is heavy to leave sweet little Oxford, my home and my life.  It’s such an interesting thing, going on a trip.  I think I would go on more if going someplace didn’t mean leaving another.  If only the latter could come with me.  But I suppose what I bring back is more precious (and more willed by God) than my remaining here in O-H… (anyone?)

As I look and pray forward in the next days and hours and moments, my spirit and my body are tired from the push and pull of worry and excitement.  My eyes and heart are heavy, and yet I’m eagerly making lists and eyeballing my wardrobe, deciding which shoes are absolutely necessary.  I’m feeling conflicted and it’s exhausting, but I’m finding peace in the constant and unchanging gospel of Jesus.  Without it, I fear I might go mad – but it’s here, and it’s there, and in me and in Paros and I believe it fully and rejoice fully and expect fully.

So here we go.  13 more days!