It goes against my Midwestern sensibilities to brag, but I’m going to admit that I’ve always been a good sleeper. I’ve had two newborn babies to attend to; I know how critical it is to sleep through the night. So it pains me to say that I’ve not slept well on this stunning Greek island of Patmos. I resolved last night to just get out of bed if I were unable to fall back asleep, which is how I came to find myself at 5:30am reaching for my glasses, trying to find my running shoes.
It was already light by the time I trotted down the steep hill from the brilliantly whitewashed hotel where my roommate Karen still slept. No destination in mind, I wanted to explore, passing the brightly colored chairs on the beach where we had our first dinner on the island. Steep inclines caused me to slow my pace; I lengthened my stride to descend. Up and down, winding to and fro, there were no people. I thought of my husband, who has always explored new lands on his feet and wished he were with me. Passing grazing goats, one with a bell around its neck announcing its movements, roosters crowed from afar. I stopped to snap a pic of a mewing wild kitten, far below in a ravine.
After taking a left turn on a narrow gravel road, a small chapel came in sight, high above the road. Out of breath, I finally arrived at its gate and easily lifted its lock open. A small courtyard surrounded this white dwelling with a cross on top. An etching of a man – Saint John? – was next to the short front door. I pushed on the weathered wood; it was locked. As I stood on the shallow wall towards the sea, it expanded forever, sea and horizon meeting without borders.
Hello – I thought towards the expanse. The wind answered. As it tossed my hair in every direction, almost lifting me from my feet, I reached out my arms and told the maker of the wind – I am yours. But instead of marking the moment and location of my offering by an altar of stones, I took a selfie and turned around to return to the hotel.
The descent was a blur and quickly I made my way back. Wanting to give Karen more time to sleep, I stopped at a chair on the beach. I pulled my phone out, planning to check out my snapshots from the run. Could they possibly look as good as it felt to be there? And when I reached for my glasses, thinking they were tucked in the front of my shirt, they were not there. I know I started with them on my face because I took them off when I started to sweat. Uggghh – where were my glasses?
Doing what all mothers recommend when something is lost; I retraced my steps. I knew I would have to go all the way back to the chapel up high. This time I kept my gaze down, hoping to see a glimmer of my rust colored plastic frames along the way. I told the maker of the wind – I don’t need the metaphor! I get it, I will let you carry me, I won’t trust only in what I can see. The whole I-was-blind-but-now-I see is not lost on me. It’s just that I loved those frames! I bought them at the Chelsea Market last summer and I’m often complimented on them. But I was also aware that this was a visual search with my limited sight. Was I being tested on the sincerity of my offering in the wind?
No glasses anywhere. I ran three times longer than I had any desire to do. Running back close to the hotel without my frames I thought – fuck it, you can keep them. You gave me contact lenses; I’m good. And wonderful aroma of the imagined coffee I was soon to sip fueled my final steps home.