Monday, 9 May 2011

Greece's economic crisis, and us


{This is potentially a long and personal post, so please grab a cup and read on}

We really had not expected the turn of events in the last couple of years in our dear home country.
We are now in one of those situations where we want to say: "My moma told me so-and she was right".
My mom could not possibly understand -and is still quite mad at me, why I left England and came to Greece, in the first place. 
She'd love an academic career for me and could see the potential of life in the sweet English countryside. 
But I was 24, stuffed with knowledge from the age of pre-schooler, charged with degrees and all that make parents happy for you, but have no meaning unless you actually know yourself and where you are heading. 
So I left England, to everyone's disappointment. With C, who left his job in an american company, we set up home in what is one of Greece's most austere and isolated parts. 
But as I said, I was 24 and in love, and in my heart I wanted the family I never had as a child, peaceful, loving and bonded. And I am grateful to God.

For the past 14 years, since setting up shop in the North, we've had our ups and downs: a partner who let us down, water claiming our stock thrice, renovating the shop another three times, putting up our flag single handedly, kids at the back of the car, and charging on, from hamlet to village, from mountain to sea. 
At some point we thought we had it figured out as grown ups.We never were, felt or behaved rich, but we put our priorities on the table and chose.

Rome, Easter 2010

We took a loan for our very first owned house. It took years to built and we ended up finishing it ourselves as the contractor went bankrupt. It felt so good to have a place to call home right here, no moving, packing and unpacking.
I did not do Burberry's, hairdressers, manicures and what most school moms and customers did,
so that we could afford a yearly family trip. 
We dressed high street sales but picked a public school for the kids. 
We didn't go out on Saturday night but we could afford once a week a coffee and newspaper reading session in a city cafe.

In the past few months our habits have turned upside down. 
We have told the kids this term will be the last in their school. 
They protested and cried, and I cried, too. A lot.
Because I hate to see them leave their friends.
Because I hate the que-dira-t-on?
Because F is just two years away from sitting her College exams. Because she really wants to study Cinema and Art, and this artistically handicapped mom is so proud of her eldest, and her guitar playing little one, and her footballer youngest.

So we troop on.
We have stopped buying papers or having coffee, and I didn't renew my expiring subscriptions. 
We have even been talking of closing down the shop. In times of financial crisis, with the IMF in toe, hotel owners make do with fluffing up the pillows, new homes are a rarity and who wants to have their home professionally decorated or buy solid oak furniture and silk/wool throws?
C even whispered we might need to sell the house and start over.
In times like these, I get myself in alarm mode, keep my chin up and stiffen my upper lip. Thank you very much, England!
I am pleasant to my customers and reveal nothing to our relatives. 
But I cannot help thinking. 
 Careful what you wish for.

C and I have often talked about moving to his mountainous village once the kids are settled with their own families. C said often he is a shepherd at heart. And I have been reading books and blogs and daydreamed about how nice it would be to be living the good life, growing our own stuff, raising chicken and goats.
And suddenly, life nods at us. One day soon we may have to leave our current lifestyle behind for good, and move into unknown territory. 
And it is so scarey!
Because I may grow a tomato or two in the summer and green salad leaves in the winter, but I am a bourgeois at heart and have no idea how to feed my family, make everything from scratch and be a peasant. 
And it scares me.

And yet...
We don't give up.

We have worked so hard to get here, we are not giving up.
Last weekend we organised a happening in the city's main square. Had some 160 kids painting and drinking orange juice, and we gave away catalogues, and did PR.
I cold call old customers.
We are organizing a sale to get some cash in the till so that we may get some new stuff in for Summer.
We work harder and hope for the best.

What I've seen in the past few weeks since we finally faced up to the prospect of completely shifting our lives, is our children change. 
They play board games and do puzzles  to save on electricity. 
F and D offered to organize some dos we are setting up with the mother company in an effort to reduce damage and get the kite fying again at the shop.
F offered to homeschool J in English, so that we may save on his English lessons. 
J offered to quit his public school so that F may stay in hers and get to College. 
They all save all they can to go to summer camp.

D, Summer camp 2010
C is the saddest of us all and we all try to cheer him up and hopefully cheer him along in whatever he decides we will do.
And i find hope and comfort in the thought that God has it all figured out for us, He knows our hearts and our true needs and He will provide what is best for us. 
At times I am so scared, i feel my breath stops, and yet so hopeful for the new chapter in our lives.
Wherever God says we'll go, we'll go.
I have finally surrendered my life to Him and he is my only hope.

love, Irene


demie said...

Irene mou,
OLA THA PANE KALA! to kserw oti isws den to pisteveis twra alla OLA tha pane kala! I zwi einai gemati allages poreias, eisai mia eksipni kai dimiourgiki gynaika- to vlepo apto blog sou!- kai prepei na sou pw oti eimai entypwsiasmeni apta paidia sou, pou se mia toso neari ilikia katalavenoun tin katastasi kai voithane tin oikogeneia. Gia tous gitones kai tous siggeneis na min se noiazei. Pernane sigoura ta idia i kai xeirotera isws...
Thinking of you and your family, Wishing the Best, Praying and Knowing Life is going to Be OK again! Love from Norway

G. said...

omg, this is such a sad story. I used to live in Greece (Zakynthos) a few years back. I totally understand why you want to make it work overthere. I met an american, and live here in the US. Although life here is easier financialy, I would rather be in Greece, less money, but better evironment. Since I left my heart feels empty. I really wish everything will go better soon for you all, staying where we feel happy is really important.
Bonne chance pour la suite.

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