The Little Things...

View into the Athens Centre courtyard from the kitchen
     Coffee. Need coffee. Need coffee now. The words repeat themselves in my mind as a I carefully trek down the steep hill which acts as a giant water-slide in the event of rain. One misplaced step and I'm done for. It's early in the morning and I'm on my way to my Ancient Greek class. The class includes me and another girl and the teacher. Smallest class of my life. And it's early. Luckily, all desires for a wake-up cup of seriously strong coffee can be satisfied at the Athens Centre. It contains a Greek-style enclosed courtyard surrounded by our classrooms, the offices, and...bumbah-dadah!...a kitchen! The kitchen boasts free coffee--stronger than a left-hook to the face--and tea at all hours of the day.

     On a mission for espresso, I climb the spiral staircase leading up to the kitchen door and I burst in. Boom. Nearly slammed the door into the face of the maintenance man. Trouble. He doesn't speak English. So, either we interact with hand gestures and awkward faces like a terribly gone-wrong game of charades. Or, I suck it up and try to hold a conversation with what little Greek I know. "Συγνώμη!" I exclaim for nearly clocking him with the door. I'm sorry. "ενταξει," he replies. It's okay. "καλημέρα," I say--hoping to reconcile the conversation. Good morning. He says it back. "τι κάνεις?" He asks. How are you? "πολύ καλό," I respond. Very well. "εσείς?" I ask him back. "πολύκαλα," he says now beaming with delight that I actually care to speak with him in his own language. Very well. He points to the coffee pot, smiling. "είναι έτοιμη," he says. It's ready. Laughing, I respond, "Ah! ευχαριστώ!" Thank you! He nods and says," παρακαλώ. γειά σας!" You're welcome. Goodbye! He walks out the door waving and smiling. "γειά σας!" I yell as he leaves the room. Now in a state of utter shock, I happily pour myself a steaming cup of delicious coffee. For several minutes, I stand in the kitchen unable to focus on anything but the previous moments of brief interaction. Did that just happen? An easy, simple conversation, and a now delighted old man. I tried the conversation, probably butchering pronunciations, but, I did it. He understood me. Proud of my accomplishment and significantly more confident with my place in the Greek world, I start walking to class. As I descend the stairs, the man is in the courtyard, delicately picking dead flowers off of one of the trees. He turns, sees me, and smiles wider than I've ever seen. He points at me and whispers," Αγαπημένο μου." My favorite.

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