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Doh! I crack my phone screen on the cobblestones of Heraklion just after disembarking a bus in which an icon of Jesus hung above the driver's seat. We arrive in Rethymno at sunset, after a two-hour bus ride along the coast, the refulgent sea glimpsed through darkened windows. The highlight of our first night in the city is the biker bar by the beach: metal music on full blast, punters sharing bottles of Jameson, and a butch bartender, arms covered in lady tattoos, wearing a shirt printed with "Refugees Welcome".

We argue, get lost on our way to the hotel, separate in our drink-induced haze. Himself returns on the back of a moped, after meeting and drinking with some local lads in a park. We argue some more, unleashing all the pent-up words of the last three months, and we collapse into bed angry.

The next day we forget the demon hours. Over coffee I read a novel only to be distracted by the air conditioner's humming. I notice the weirdness of our minimalist, tastefully appointed, and spacious room--nice sofa, huge bed, recessed lighting, plenty of concealed storage, everything designed to not intrude--the opposite of our cluttered and creaky hundred-plus year old house. For first time in ages, I am free from chores and errands, the constant call of attention away from the interior priorities of the self. The sorrow of the summer is contained, still present and enduring but shut away for awhile in a white box, surrounded by sunshine and heat and the happiness of strangers speaking in an unfamiliar language.

I felt light at the thought. Something like joy.


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