We moved overseas. Outremer.
Our flight was nightmarish; I was filled with dread by the dark Abrahamic swarms crowding the aisles to rock and chant.
Luckily, we were warmly welcomed at Asaph's sister's house when we finally arrived.
Our son was sick in the morning, owing to the conditions of our voyage.
There were stabbings reported in the town to which we had moved. I was in distress. I went to the garden in Asaph's sister house to pray for solace. An extremely kind young babysitter had been arranged to care for our daughter.
Our son recovered quickly.
I walked outside a short distance to confront my fears.
It didn't know what to think.
I focused on fragrant flora.
Our daughter was enjoying our temporary accommodations.
I had a gander from the tree house.
The presence of so much citrus was comforting.
I stayed around Asaph's sister's house for several days.
I didn't even want our children to go outside of the walled-in garden.
Eventually we took a longer walk.
What had we done? I wondered.
The sights and sounds and smells were disorienting.
I agreed to get in a car one morning. God brought the dew.
We took our kids to see their new jardin d’enfants. I mistook some meatballs for deep-fried balls made from ground chickpeas.
We went to visit relatives.
I looked at the land.
We drove near the wall. You could see over it and observe the large towns covering the hills.
We visited one set of grandparents.
The kids were happy. That was why we had done this.
I wondered about my tenuous connection to this land.
There were intoxicating smells.
There was no choice but to eat local.
You had to eat the fruit of the land, because it was hard to get anything from anywhere else.
We went to the other set of grandparents.
Fruits everywhere, I thought.
Some were less skilled at turning this bounty into tasty dishes.
We went back to our temporary accommodation.
I tried to focus on the positive.
I accidentally left a delivery of dairy products out in the hot sun for five hours.
I threw it all in the trash.
We went to look at the house we had rented for the year.
I didn't know what to think.
I walked by a surprisingly clean park near our rental house.
Back at our temporary accommodation I questioned everything.
We took a break to visit the beach.
Since it was autumn the sun set too soon.
We went to a festive family meal.
I felt some contentment.
I was relaxed.
I was pleased.
I was full.
Our children were taken out to a playground. I relaxed.
The next day winter rains had been forecast.
They were more extreme than we had expected.
"Rocks are hitting our car!" I said, moronically.
We visited our rental home, in which we were not yet living. There was damage.
Our children were already attending their jardin d'enfants. I walked down the street.
We headed back to our rental accommodation. There were widespread power outages.
I started studying the local language in a governmental institution.
We had no power for several days so we were taught in the dark.
Some of the people in my class lived in a dismal Centre d'Intégration.
Torrential rains made the drive back to our temporary accommodation a challenge.
Our possessions arrived from New York.
Grizzled toughs from the former Soviet Union unloaded the shipping container. I wondered about the validity of their tribal affiliation.
It would take weeks to unpack.
I had to take things day by day.
A duststorm arrived.
It was unpleasant.
The six-month strawberry season had begun.
Each grandparent had ample citrus.
I didn't eat any.
I asked for us to stop to look at the Chechen mosque. It was impressive, although the town was filthy.
An herbal infusion was prepared using plants from the garden.
It was chilly up in the so-called holy city.
What had I done? What had I done? I thought, at regular intervals.
I felt somewhat relieved that we had arrived after the major holidays.
We spent a fair amount of time in the offices of governmental ministries.
I walked around every day after my language classes.
I wanted to get as much sun as possible, something I would later regret.
Our town was religious in a somewhat unique way.
I felt excited upon mistaking something for blueberries.
We had to get him back home to administer antipyretics. We had moved into our rental home for the year.
It was avocado season. I tried to take advantage.
We took a trip to a fancy hotel for my birthday.
I was getting really old.
The weather was cloudy, which was good, given the limited rainy season.
We had a delicious dinner. I worried about the kids, being taken care of by a stepbrother.
Everyone survived the night.
Another party was held for me. I didn't really know the many guests.
I checked our mailbox every day, waiting for something to arrive.
My language class was difficult, but rewarding.
Municipal workers planted Cyclamen in the sad little traffic circle by our rental house.
One Friday Asaph and I went to buy flowers at a nearby quasi-agricultural settlement. I thought I smelled the odor of Cannabis growing in the sun.
Our kids went to a preschool six days a week, but on Fridays only until noon.
We then had to entertain them.
Even though it was almost winter, the landscape was flowery.
It was warm enough that frozen desserts did not seem inappropriate.
Public landscaping continued unabated.
The winter holiday was arriving.
Our children made crafts.
I went back to New York to finish up some work for a week. In spite of my misery, I didn't feel happy there. It seemed dirty and crowded and stupid.
I happily boarded the plane to return overseas.
From then on, I would only miss Ohio.
The kids were enjoying their new lives.
They picked strawberries on their birthday. I worried about bacterial contamination.
We went to the holy city again with my language class. I had a form of influenza.
When I was returned to the town where I lived, I had to run home to escape a bout of chills.
Then our daughter got sick.
I spoke with an English acquaintance, who noted that the weather was nicer than many English summers, yet everyone was unwell.
Things got much worse for me.
Much, much worse.
We took a winter hike.
I was full of regret.
We took a trip to the south. The kids enjoyed a bonfire on a cold night.
I could always find the discarded garbage in any beautiful landscape.
See? I thought.
I could see.
I felt like I was going crazy.
I felt like I was going to die.
I didn't know what to do.
I remembered: it may be that a bad end is in store for us all.
I had always been a negative, pessimistic person, of course.
But this was unlike anything I had experienced before.
My mother's illness and death seemed, in retrospect, like a picnic.
We went on a picnic.
Even in a private natural area, I found trash.
I took the kids for a walk and discovered a highway of ants.
Asaph and I went to the desert for an overnight.
I enjoyed the wildlife.
I wondered if the kids knew about my pain.
They were acclimating and assimilating.
There were many occasions for festivity.
I went to Greece for a few days for work.
Despite similar flora, I felt worlds away. I was back in Europe.
I was so happy.
I had to return after a few days.
One local holiday was milked to its greatest extent, for the children.
A noticeable spring began to occur.
There were early harvests.
My father came to visit. We went to the holy city, where I showed him old haunts.
We were able to visit locations that many persons in my spouse's family were afraid to approach.
We spent the night in a guesthouse owned by the Vatican.
We ate dinner overlooking the city. Dance music blared in the background while collared priests guzzled wine. I felt back at home.
We went away for the major spring holiday. Our Global Positioning System-based geographical navigation application program led us into occupied territory. I was terrified, although the landscape was beautiful and unspoiled.
After returning behind the armistice lines, we began a two-day vacation with friends of Asaph.
Twenty-four of us -- including ten children -- were all sleeping in the same room.
For the first time in my life, I thought about jumping.
Later that week we met some friends who had been living in Switzerland. Their Helvetic life sounded like paradise.
The endless holiday ended.
The jacarandas were in bloom.
They were a consolation.
I had not believed that it was possible to feel despair in a sunny place.
I was wrong!
The secular national holiday was observed. I looked over the land, already too dense with ever-increasing swarming masses.
I was able to return to Greece to do some more work. From hell to heaven.
I took an overnight trip to Hydra (Ύδρα).
It wasn't the most exciting place, but it was beautiful and the people were normal, a refreshing change.
I walked around and sat in cafés and bought high-quality yet inexpensive merchandise.
You couldn't do that sort of thing in the place in which I was living.
The trip was too brief. Before I knew it I was back.
I took a trip up north with Asaph.
The inn in which we had reservations seemed promising from the outside.
There was an attention to detail in the landscaping that was not typical.
Our room was beautiful, in a quasi-historic set of farm buildings.
The woman who ran the inn did not seem like a typical person from the nation.
Later I figured out that she was descended from the earliest pioneers. These people were not like the others who flooded the country subsequently. They were more like Europeans -- they appreciated art, contemplation, beauty. Regular people in this overseas nation didn't care about those things. They cared about making a living and endlessly birthing out babies and following their fussy and drab Abrahamic religious rituals.
We took a little walk. There was some litter, but it wasn't terrible.
Frogs croaked outside our window all night. That was kind of nice.
I felt sad when we had to leave.
Asaph had fond memories of the nearby town named after the second Emperor of the Roman Empire. The owner of the inn recommended that he just keep his fond memories and not go to see what it had become.
Why did I hate this place?
The people, mostly. They weren't my kind of people.
We took a trip to the farthest north possible.
We camped in the unoccupied lowlands below the occupied highlands, so it was excruciatingly hot.
The kids had fun.
The kids. We were doing it for the kids.
They were thriving.
It was a marvelous wonderland for them.
I reminded myself of this every day, or several times a day.
I wondered how much longer I would survive.
In some species, the flourishing of the young required the dissolution of the parents.
I thought about that a lot.