An American in Paros

I have not written much about our time over here in Greece.   There are several reasons for this.

First of all, I am still working over here.   I still spend 25 to 30 hours a week answering emails.    I am also still teaching.   And, quite honestly, teaching has wrecked my routine schedule.

For the last five years, I have taught online after school.   I would race home from my last class at New Hope Academy in Franklin, Tennessee and start teaching online at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.   I did this for five years.

The problem is… time zones.   In Tennessee, I would teach from 3 o’clock in the afternoon until about 7 o’clock in the evening.   When we moved to Greece, my schedule changed.   I now teach from  10 o’clock at night until 2 o’clock in the morning.

I knew this was going to happen, but I foolishly assumed that it wouldn’t affect me.   Unfortunately, I was wrong.   I turned 43 last Saturday.   Turns out I was able to stay up through the middle of the night easily when I was 23.   But, it doesn’t work now that I’m 43.

If you have read my book, Via, you know that I developed a bizarre schedule while fighting for my family’s financial freedom.  For the last decade, or so, I have risen (or at least attempted to rise) every morning at 3 o’clock.  I have tried to continue doing that in Greece as well.  The results have been dismal.  I just can’t stay up all night and all day.

As a result, my productivity has plummeted.   I told myself that I was going to blog from Greece every day.  I have blogged from Greece almost none.

My classes end this week.   I am looking forward to it.   I’m looking forward to returning to my normal, bizarre schedule.   I’m looking forward to getting back up at 3 o’clock in the morning.    I hope to return to a regular blogging schedule.

At this point, this post is going to take a decidedly personal turn. I’m actually rather quiet about my family life and personal life. I don’t post pictures of my food on social media, nor do I post pictures of my shoes on social media. I can’t imagine why anybody would care to look at someone else’s food or shoes. But, then again I’m a middle-aged guy. Therein lies the trouble, I presume.

I do, however, think that everyone should blog. At some point, our memories are going to begin to fade. A blog is a perfect way to recall and recover lost memories.

We have been living on an island in Greece for almost 2 months now. If you are reading this, fine. But, remember that I am writing this so that I might personally remember what we have discovered here.

We have been living here on the island of Paros, Greece since April 1.   I have been told by multiple locals that this is a good time to be here. I have also been told that late June, July, and August is a great time to not be here.   Just keep that in mind if you get excited by what I’m about to write.   If you come here during the summer months, you may find a completely different island.

We have been looking at homes to buy here on the island. We did not come with this in mind. But, then again, we had no idea what we were going to find when we landed here.

My family and I have discovered what we have been looking for for years. We have found the land of the free. Seems strange, since, after all, we are Americans.  Well, half-American.   Before returning to Europe, I renewed my British citizenship and received a British passport.   I will be working on the British citizenship of my children the moment I return to America.

At home, in Franklin, Tennessee, I am pulled over by the police at least once a year.   I don’t really consider myself a bad driver, but I suppose the police in Franklin do. Bad driver or not, annual traffic  violations are just a normal part of my life.   They are an annual part of my life that I could happily live without.

I have seen two police officers on this island in two months. One of my daughters tells me that she once saw a police officer urgently running. He was headed into a bakery. He emerged some time later with several pastries.

I have seen not one vehicle pulled over to the side of the road. There are no traffic signals on the island. There is a speed limit but like Capt. Barbosa in Pirates of the Caribbean, the Greeks must consider the speed limit more”guidelines” really.   The generally laid-back, cheerful Greeks drive like maniacs.    The police do not seem to mind.  As my family and I walk most places, we must be constantly vigilant.

Every year, during the month of May, Tennessee takes me down.  I suffer a full month of debilitating allergies.  No allergies here.

In Tennessee, there are “No trespassing” signs everywhere.   Here there are none.  My children have explored numerous abandoned houses, buildings, and windmills.   Whenever my children are caught in any of these buildings, the Greeks cheerfully greet them with happy “Καλημερα”s.   One elderly Greek woman came out and gave my daughter’s enormous bouquets of flowers.

In Franklin, Tennessee, there is a curfew.   Not here.  One night, my son couldn’t sleep.   He roamed downtown at midnight to find the town filled with happy Greek families eating and drinking.   “There were children running everywhere”, he said.

My children have complete freedom here.   They can roam downtown whenever they like, go exploring the countryside, or walked to a nearby beach without fear.   In fact, a week ago one of the locals told my wife that children who grow up on this island do not know fear.

In Franklin, Tennessee, the weather is ridiculously unpredictable.   One day it’s 90° outside and humid,  the next day it’s 75° and storming.   It is often difficult to know how to dress.   Here, on the island of Paros, the weather is ridiculously predictable.   For the last 40 or 50 days, it has been 70° or 75° and sunny.   Every day.   The mornings are cool, and the days are beautiful.

As I said, this blog is more for me than for anyone. I want to remember what I have discovered here. I know that when I returned to my frantic life in the United States I may forget. I don’t want to forget. I have discovered a life here that most of us only dream about.

I still have much to learn.  For instance, I do not know what taxes are like here in Greece.  I do not know how easy it is or how difficult it is to run a small business from Greece.   I do not know if my family and I would be accepted as locals or if we will always be viewed as foreigners were we to return.   As I said, there is much to learn.

We will be returning in the years ahead.   I fully intend to master the Greek and Italian languages over the next 10 years.   Naturally, that is going to involve visiting Greece and Italy.

Over the course of the next decade, I do not know what I will discover. I’m sure that I will discover much negativity toward Europe and the European Union. Already I have begun to uncover some of the ugly truths about the European union.  Turns out the system is bureaucratic and oppressive.

Kind of reminds me of home.

But, life on the island seems free.   It reminds me of my years growing up over here in Europe. Things don’t seem to have changed much. In day-to-day life, it seems the Greeks enjoy more freedoms that we Americans do.

This is a lesson I don’t want to forget.

We leave the island in ten days.  I don’t want to forget how happy it was to be an American in Paros.