In the presence of the Parthenon, disappointment stabbed me.
Finally in Athens, I climbed the hill to the Acropolis in the extreme heat of the afternoon. I passed through the ornate gate, and, lifting my eyes toward this majestic temple to Athena, a giant crane greeted me. Camera poised, I circled what was left of the Parthenon, trying to find an angle that matched my mind’s eye’s view.
Sometimes the postcards are better than the real thing.
So after my family and I spent a hot Athenian morning that stretched into a hot Athenian afternoon, we made it back to our hotel exhausted, and I hatched a new plan. The next day we would sleep in, relax at our hotel’s rooftop pool, walk the mile to the city in the late afternoon, and get to experience Athens at night.
We would climb Filopappos Hill, and we would look across a valley to see the Parthenon lit up against the pitch-black sky. My imagination was alive again. The universe owed me an awe-inspiring Parthenon moment, and I was going to get it.
We started up the hill in the late afternoon, an easy climb up a rocky path, everything going according to plan.
Then the problems started. My husband noticed that the path wasn’t lighted. If we waited for the dark, we would be stumbling along the rocks on the way down. We, of course, had no flashlights, as we never do when flashlights are needed.
Now I may be timid and squeamish and all, but once I latch onto a plan, I will follow it to the Gates of Hades, a character trait that I both admire and hate about myself.
I can be obstinate. I can make bad decisions. I can insist we stay on the hill and wait for the sun to set, no matter how worried my husband is about the failing light or how bored my kids are that the sun has not gone down as quickly as I promised.
Eventually, the sun began to set, as it must, and streaks of gold and orange filled the sky. We sat and waited and posed for pictures, but confronted by this beauty, three of the four of us were grumpy, bored, impatient.
I wheedled and pleaded and got my husband and kids to wait an extra half-hour.
“Let’s go,” one of them whined, yet again.
The sun took its time, inching its way like a garbage truck blocking my lane during a busy commute.
“Just ten more minutes,” I bargained.
My ten minutes long gone, lights finally appeared across the valley in the dusk. It wasn’t dark yet, but it would have to do. When the lights flicker on at the Parthenon, pretty good is good enough, and keeping the peace is all the perfection you need.
I snapped my picture and agreed to hit the trail, tripping over rocks occasionally on my way down in the dimness. Nobody twisted an ankle that he would hold against me, and we walked the mile back to our hotel in peaceful quiet.
I took the elevator up to the roof alone. And I saw the Parthenon, there, off in the distance, glowing in the blackness, majestic.
(The hill on the left in this picture is Filopappos Hill, where we waited for the dark.)
- Related posts: Vacation in Greece | Barracuda on the Beach
- This is part of a series, Scene from a Memoir.
- I linked up with Yeah Write, the spot for writers who blog and bloggers who write. Submit your essay or anecdote on Tuesday, and go back on Thursday to vote for your favorites.