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(Various scenes of Greece.)
SAPHIA (VO): I‘ve been here in Greece for a while now. And what has surprised me the most is how easy it is to slip into a communalist mindset. I wake up knowing that what I eat for breakfast, where I go, who I interact with—that all of these are group decisions. Not just because I am a guest, but because I’ve been accepted into my boyfriend’s family, and this is just how it is for everyone.
I’ve surrendered to this fact, perhaps because I know it will be over soon, perhaps because it feels like a kind of social experiment, but mostly because what I get in return is worth it. Just as I must think of others at times when, back home, I’d have sole decision making power, others think of me—so much so that it startled me at first. At almost every moment someone is asking me if I’m hungry, if I’m thirsty, if I’d like a coffee, a beer, why I didn’t finish the food on my plate, am I not feeling well?
I remember this from last summer, and the summer before, this intense care that in the past felt at times suffocating, but this time around, I enjoy it. It is so completely different from my solitary New York life, and I’ve missed being looked after in this way. It is as if a great balancing act is being performed, as if all this care must be poured into me, and mine into others, to make up for the unnatural individualism of my New York life.
This time around, my boyfriend is finding this particular element of Greek culture more suffocating than I am. It’s quite a switch—normally, he slides right back into his life in Greece and takes the communalism in stride—benefits from it, even, with things like getting to stay in his cousin’s apartment—but suddenly, every group decision is infuriating, not eating when he wants to makes him grumpy, and he mentions at least once a day how excited he is to return to his apartment, eat whatever he wants whenever he wants, and work alone in his office instead of in his family’s apartment, crammed into 1,000 square feet with four other people. He wants balance, too, just in the other direction. Perhaps he’s had enough of communalism while I’m just getting my first tastes. So if balance is key, if the individualism of New York life is what allows me to appreciate Greece, but I know I could not live in such a communalist culture year-round, the question becomes: how do I bring a piece of Greece home?
(Fade to outro.)