Nice to see you again.
D and I were fortunate enough to spend our honeymoon in Greece. If one sentence sums up that experience, it would have to be, hands down, “Well, now we know.”
We planned nothing beyond our flights to and from Athens, as well as most of our accommodations, and I have to say, I'm a fan of that travel approach. There’s something about traveling that liberates me beyond my constant battle: control versus letting things go. I have absolutely no desire to create any semblance of an itinerary. After all, I’m traveling to get out of my norm, which includes not only planning, but setting aside time each week to plan –aka Inception for Type As.
So, without a plan, we relied on locals for suggestions and how-tos... and we learned a lot along the way.
What do we know now?
Take the bus...but be wary of over-confidently requesting unpopular stops, unless you’re prepared to walk a few miles in no man’s land and you’re open to casually waiting for the next bus – which is probably coming at some point (?), but no guarantees.
Take the ferry...but be prepared to a) navigate the chaos that awaits you upon arrival, b) shamelessly finagle a cheaper ride, c) fearlessly put your life in the hands of a "professional driver" on a harrowing cliff ride, and d) cram yourself and your luggage into clown-car crowded vehicles with similarly-anxious strangers who also have no idea what’s happening.
Tip a few euros...but don’t just patiently wait for the waiter to bring you the check, unless you have at least twenty minutes to kill. They'll never come unless you hail them like a cab, so be proactive.
Order 0.5 L of white wine on the beach, at lunch, at pre-dinner, at dinner, and any other time it's offered, which is basically every time. Full stop.
Pay for an afternoon of snorkeling and lunching around the caldera on a catamaran with a group of strangers who will turn out to be more fun than you thought initially...but maybe pace yourself with the alcohol as you bask on the sunny deck for five hours, unless you want to be blackout shwasted for the rest of the day.
Don’t wear heels. (Really, this is one of my mottos in life overall, but it’s especially pertinent advice on the cobblestones of Athens, the uneven boardwalks of Naxos, and the hilly, slippery marble of Santorini. I, for one, wouldn’t want to end up in one of the health clinics on those islands.)
Indulge in some TV at the end of a very long day full of walking and exploring and making the most of your surroundings, because it’s your vacation, after all, plus, it's an authentic window into local culture...but don’t be surprised if your only options are Karate Kid 3 or the World Snooker Championship.
Now we know.
Full disclosure here: I really struggled with what to write following last week's post. It almost feels like having to give a toast right after the most crowd-pleasing toast you’ve ever heard. No one wants to do that.
I was, in a word, floored by the responses to my post last week. It was a story I’d been wanting to share for awhile, but it took me about a year to be at that point mentally and emotionally. After writing that letter to my reproductive system...well, I feel like that’s pretty much as ready as you get.
One of the greatest pieces of dating advice I ever received was from a former client. A woman somewhere in her 40s (you never can tell for sure), she was exactly what you imagine in a woman from Long Island who lives in a swanky UES apartment building and works at Bloomingdale’s: elegant and sassy, with long, highlighted, flowing locks, and a fierce “tell it like it is” conversational style. I loved her immediately. She even humored me by trying non-machine and non-cardio exercises like lunges. We spent our sessions compromising and chatting about life.
In one session, I was telling her about some guy that didn’t work out – in the relationship sense, not in the exercise sense. I worked in a gym (still feels ironic every time I see that in writing), so a solid 97% of the men I dated were avid exercisers. I have a type, and I’m not ashamed of it. Anyway, some guy didn’t work out, and she said, “Jamie, here’s the thing about relationships: it has to be the right person, and it has to be the right time. That’s it. It’s that simple.”
I mean, it’s pretty obvious, but I guess I’d never boiled it down to those two points. In that moment, I felt like I was in the presence of a relationship guru revealing the Holy Grail of wisdom for a worthy devotee as she did her Pilates leg lifts.
All this is to say that, like spirit babies, who know the right time and the right family for them, last week was the right time to share that story, and I shared it with the right people. Friends and peers from elementary school, high school, college, and previous jobs crawled out of the Facebook woodwork to thank me for bravely sharing my story – and to share their own stories. I’ve never had such a response to a lil old blog post, which, granted, means about 57 "Likes," but still: it illuminated the connection that so many people felt to those words.
I don’t like to use the word “infertility,” because that word feels devoid of spirit and soul. It sounds closed versus open, stark versus flourishing, faithless versus faith-full. Even the author of The Energetic Fertility Method – the woo-est of woo books – uses the word “infertility.” That is, technically, the name for it, but it always makes me cringe.
I prefer something like, well, journey to mamahood. And I don’t even want to capitalize “mamahood,” because then it would feel like a distant, mythical place, like the Emerald City, which you have to venture through a deadly field of drug-laced flowers and outwit a cranky old hag to reach.
The journey to mamahood is a journey, and it is absolutely reachable, and sometimes you end up taking a route you never expected to take. Sometimes it looks different than you thought, but, somehow, you find your way to nourishing that part of yourself. And, not to sound like a self-help book, but it is truly all about the journey. You learn and you grow so much.
I don’t feel like I deserve praise for bravery, but I agree with gusto that this all-too-common struggle is rarely talked about. I wish that people talked more about it. I wish that people talked more about a lot of personal challenges, because some of the most powerful healing occurs when you know that you’re not alone – when you know that you have a tribe of wounded warriors waiting with open arms to listen, receive, and offer.
Which brings me full-circle to “well, now we know.”
Now you know. Now you know my story. Now I know some of your stories. Now we know (or at least are reminded) that we’re not alone on whatever journey we’re currently on – toward mamahood, papahood, or whatever other type of “hood” we want to move toward (health-hood, self-love-hood, re-evaluating-all-of-our-life-choices-hood). After all, we all have stories, and our darker stories are just a beautiful as the brighter ones, even if they feel rather soul-crushing in the moment. Like building muscle, we strengthen neural pathways by doing the work of, well, life.
So, thanks for stopping by. Feel free to share stories that resonate with you and, if you're interested, you can always go the old-school route and subscribe to these little ditties rather than randomly stumbling across them if the mystical Facebook algorithm works in my favor. Just throwing it out there.
And keep sharing your stories, because someone (including this lady here) wants to hear them.