I’m sitting at a little blue table on the end of a jetty used by Kertos Taverna in Chania that will be alive with locals and tourists looking for a good seafood meal later today. But in this early morning hour my only companions are the fishermen trolling out to sea from the marina and the occasional seagull scavenging for crumbs left behind from last night’s dinner. The marina hums with the activity of boat repair, chugging outboard motors spewing diesel engine smells, the lilt of Greek conversation over the water and the gentle ever-constant “slap, slap, slap” of the Mediterranean water against the boat hulls and the rocks beneath me. The sea is as I always remember it – smooth, transparent silk, unbroken except for the occasional early morning swimmer who has braved the chilly waters of early spring for a slow, brisk swim.
What is it about this mesmerizing and infuriating island? I can’t see me living here again yet I don’t want to leave once I get here. I wish I had a better grasp of the Greek language for I’m sure there is a word that encapsulates the merging of chaos and calm in this place. The maddening disregard for order coexists with the soul deep peace of acceptance forged over centuries of tradition. And I feel it as if I never left.
It’s a mystery to me and though I’ve known this island for over 13 years now I will never really KNOW it. Perhaps that’s why I keep returning. To reconnect with a place that changed me forever and to look for the pieces of me I left behind.
“We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place, we stay there, even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there.”
― Pascal Mercier, Night Train to Lisbon