Oh it should have been something other than it was. How can a person explain a moment of such perfect magnification? I felt like a child feels during those moments of clarifying awareness: I saw, I was, it was all okay.
We were in Dyvos and proud owners of a house and a taverna and we knew nothing about any of it. Instead we stood on a hill and watched the world around us unfurl and instead of terror, instead of fear, we were free.
“Have you ever seen anything like this?” Min took my hand. Down below on the dock there seemed to be a celebration of sorts over the livestock we had traveled with. Our luggage sat piled where we’d left it; somehow we understood that someone would assist us in retrieving it. My usual nature would be to sit and wait, not let my things out of sight but Min had started to move and so I moved with her.
Dyvos seemed to be a world of hills, divided by narrow roads that traveled to other hills. White walls defined the town in a method we didn’t then know. So many walls edging around homes, flower pots and small trees marking the stones.
“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”
She squeezed my hand. “It’s foreign Kate. We’re foreigners in a foreign land. Isn’t it marvelous? Do you think one of those houses is ours? They almost look like the Greek equivalent to tract homes. Is there a grocery store do you think?”
I had no answers. We watched for a few more silent minutes, each of us lost in our own thoughts. Finally, still hand in hand, we descended.
We were led to our new home in a strange procession, not unlike the cow that had landed with us. Our parade began with a man on an old motorbike, behind him was a youngster sitting facing backwards, holding onto a three wheeled wooden cart that contained our luggage. Two older chattering women followed them and behind them followed Min and I.
There was no appropriate response to our first vision of our home. The crumbling outer wall that held no welcoming flower pots was the first thing we saw. I lost my breath with disappointment; the Greek version of tract houses would have made my heart gladder than this.
Beyond the wall was the house. I heard Min sigh as she first saw it and I understood. We had prepared for something different but instead we stepped into the past.
The house was made of the same stone that most of the island was constructed with. Washed white with streaks of color running in sudden veins that ended abruptly; it was craggy in some places, smooth in others.
The steps leading to the front door were broken. Stones cascaded under our feet as we were led excitedly into our new home.
When I tell the story in later years I fully intend to lie and say that it was Min who screeched, but the unfortunate truth is that it was me.
“Oh my God,” Min laughed, “it’s a goat.”
“It bit me,” I yelped, moving out of the animal’s path while the Greeks didn’t hide their laughter.
“I think it was nuzzling you.” Min stepped over to the grizzled animal and scratched it’s head. “Oh, he’s so lovely.”
“He’s a wild animal.”
“He’s Henry.” Another stranger unfurled himself from the crouch he’d been in, this one decidedly un-Greek in appearance and accent. At least 6’3″ with light brown hair and sparkling green eyes, he was thin with huge shoulders and what looked like almost a footballer’s build.
“Henry fits you,” Min said talking to the goat.
“Why is there a goat in my house?” I wasn’t going to trust any animal with teeth like Henry was showing.
“He’s a gift,” the stranger explained.
“I don’t want a goat,” I screeched.
“Someone gave us a goat?” Min looked enchanted. One of the older women started to speak rapidly, her hands punctuating her words with sharp jabs and sweeping exclamations.
“Apparently,” the tall stranger said, “you also have a chicken.”
“I love chickens,” Min said.
“Fried,” I added.
“My name’s Daniel.” The stranger held out his hand and Min was quick in taking it.
“I’m Min and the animal hater is Kate. Are you American?”
“Yes ma’am. Born and bred in Montana. Nick asked me to check and make sure the house was hospitable. It’s pretty sturdy but there’s some rot in the bathroom and we should replace most of the windowsills on the west side of the house. We’ll try to get the electricity started but Nyla was feuding with almost everyone so there’ll probably be some delays while they figure out you’re not Nyla.”
I turned to Min. “The woman I bought this all from.” I turned back to Daniel. “No electricity but we have a goat and a chicken and rot in the bathroom?”
“Pretty good for Greece actually,” Daniel said with a grin. I had no answering smile and Min was scratching the goat’s head again.
“So who’s Nick?” I asked.
Before he could answer, the chicken woman was squawking again. I stared at her uncomprehendingly, didn’t she know we didn’t understand a word she was saying? She didn’t care apparently, seeing my dumbstruck face she seemed to make a decision. Her hand was surprisingly soft and decidedly strong as she took my hand. Against my desire, I found myself pulled through the room and out an opposite door.
“Tah. Dah.” She nodded her head as I looked around in amazement.
“Oh Kate.” Min was behind me and the amazement in her voice matched what I felt. It looked as though every room in the house had a door that opened to the courtyard we were standing in. To the side were stone steps that appeared to lead to the roof.
A fire pit was central in the yard, build in a pastiche of stone and metal. An old wooden chair with a ratty orange pillow sat against a wall. A stone bench near the steps was roosting a chicken.
“Have you ever seen anything quite so beautiful?” Min breathed and I had to admit that I hadn’t.