Moving On by Carol P. Christ


Last year when I was newly in love, I found myself wondering if my boyfriend would ask me to move to Crete to be closer to him. Pondering this possibility, it suddenly dawned on me that I was ready to move on. I had been living in Lesbos for twenty years, and I never expected to leave such a stunning island. I have an incredibly beautiful home that I renovated at great emotional cost. Nonetheless, I had been mildly depressed for a number of years and seriously distressed for three.

I consider myself intelligent and charming and fun to be around. Though I am highly educated and involved in environmental work and politics, I can also talk about the weather, people, and television programs. Despite the diversity of my interests, I find myself isolated in my village.

I have many Greek friends, but we rarely socialize together. Greek men in my village still often go out with each other, leaving their wives at home. The women meet for coffee parties in the winter, but because Greeks are very family oriented, they rarely develop the kinds of close female friendships we cherish in North America.

In the summer when the days are long and lovely, most of the locals are working day and night in the tourist industry. In the winter, they rest and spend time with their families. Since the economic crisis that began in 2009, most Greeks cannot afford to go out on a regular basis.

I, of course, am a foreigner, but I don’t fare a whole lot better in the foreign community. The Germans like to speak German, the Dutch like to speak Dutch, and the English seem to prefer to be with their own kind. As the only full-time resident with an American background, I am an odd person out.

Moreover, it seems that in the foreign community here, as in much of the rest of the world, couples like to be with other couples: gay and lesbian couples are included, but single women are still apparently viewed with some kind of suspicion. I thought it was only me, but I have recently learned from two other single women living in the village that they often feel left out too.

My house is the grey Neoclassical with four windows on the top floor.

In 2015 our island was the site one of the largest human migrations of our time. Refugees fleeing wars in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan began to arrive on the shores of our village and our island in numbers that increased to over thousand a day by the late summer. Following an agreement between Turkey and the European Union, the flow of refugees has lessened, but currently there are over 7000 refugees living in deplorable conditions in a camp designed for 2000, and several hundred people are still arriving in the island each week. Witnessing human suffering on a large scale, the people in my village—myself included–are traumatized.

Those involved in the tourist industry feared loss of income, and this did indeed occur in 2016 and 2017. The local tourist organization declared that no refugee should ever been seen in our village. Because of this animosity, the Coast Guard finds it necessary to take the refugees it picks up in the sea near our village to another location to debark.

The villagers have turned against each other. Those who actively help the refugees have been accused of making lots of money while destroying tourism. I have heard people I know well and people I know slightly say horrible things. I am often caught in the middle. If I don’t speak to people who speak badly about the refugees, I will not be speaking to my neighbors. But when I do, I am told that I am betraying those who help the refugees.

I spent the end of last winter and the spring in Heraklion, a city of about 150,000 with a lively center situated on the sea and enclosed by walls dating to the era of Venetian occupation. As soon as I arrived in Crete, a mother and daughter I have known for over twenty years through my work on the Goddess Pilgrimage adopted me into their family and announced that I was to join them for Easter and First of May and was expected at an upcoming family wedding. I was on my own for much of the time I lived in Heraklion, and I often ate out alone. In my village I would have felt conspicuous or left out. In a larger city, it was accepted that I had my own life.

I planned to spend last summer working on related projects with a friend at a seaside village in Crete. When my friend left unexpectedly, I was immediately adopted (yes again) by an independent-minded single taverna owner and her two sons. I spent an idyllic summer writing in the morning and whiling away my afternoons and evenings in their taverna by the sea.

This year I will celebrate the winter holidays with my taverna family. Then I will be moving back to Heraklion where I will rent an apartment from a friend while looking for a permanent new home. No, I have not yet sold my house in Lesbos, but I am taking steps to do so.

I know there is no perfect place to live. In our world it is impossible to escape suffering. I will continue to assist my friends who work with the refugees with writing and translation. I will continue to work to end war. Are the people of Crete nicer than the people of Lesbos? I tend to think so, though I know that they are not perfect. I consider myself lucky to have the resources to be able to move on from a place where I have not been happy for many years. I look forward to blessings of love and friendship and adopted families in the coming year.

Wish me well. Even when you know it is the right thing to do, pulling up stakes is scary.

 

Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist writer, activist, and educator living in Crete. Carol’s recent book written with Judith Plaskow, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology, is on Amazon. A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess is on sale for $9.99 on Amazon. Carol  has been leading Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete for over twenty years: join her in Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honneger.

Listen to Carol’s a-mazing interview with Mary Hynes on CBC’s Tapestry recorded in conjunction with her keynote address to the Parilament of World’s Religions.



Categories: Family, female friendship, Feminism, Feminism and Religion

Tags: , , , , , ,

35 replies

  1. wishing you well Carol. I have just pulled up stakes as you may know, moving out of my beloved MoonCourt ceremonial space, and place of residence, to live closer to my mother and help her a bit as she needs, and thus return to my original homelands – something I did not think I would ever do. It has been scary, and LOTS of work: but it is really quite integrating, and I am recovering from the stress of the move. I am fortunate to have landed in a lovely place to rent and though it will take a while yet to settle in fully (if one does), we (my partner and I) are now functional in the new place after only a month. Wishing you grace and ease.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wish you well. I also live by myself and it is scary how intimidating other people find it. As if one is an aberration, especially when one declares preferring solitude.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Blessings- it is a long journey to make such big transitions. It takes a lot of moment to moment courage & energy.
    My trips to Crete continue to be a rock in my foundation- they gave me much strength through many difficult twists & turns.
    I think of you often with great gratitude & care. Keep moving to happiness….❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I wish you so very well, Carol! Sometimes what a friend calls “doing a geographic” is just the thing. A few years ago I left a place where I believed I would die and be buried. (And it was in fact slowly killing me.) It was only a move across a river, but every place does have its own spirit. You are so deeply connected with ancient Crete. May contemporary Crete embrace you and give you a joyous home.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. May it go well with you during your time of transition! I pulled up stakes (so to speak) three years ago and am still not “settled” in my new place (Southern New Mexico). I continue to straddle two geographical places and, for now, am content to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am also an expat. Even though I live in an area with many English-speaking expats, loneliness as a single woman is still an issue. But I suspect that this would be an issue for single senior women anywhere. Good luck on your next life adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I wish you well, Carol. I’ve been to Crete twice and I loved it both times. If it were at all possible, I would choose it as my retirement home. I’m a second-generation American and I’m very familiar with the coolness which single women with no Greek children are met with in the Greek-American communities I’ve been a part of. While there are things about village life that are very appealing, it would be the cities for me as well. I have been and will be following your Cretan adventures with great interest!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. So many just settle for what is. It takes such courage to make such a life-changing move. You are so inspiring, for the move and for sharing your story.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Wishing you all the best on your move to Crete. I’ve been there a few times, and it is my favorite place! Everywhere you step has spiritual energy and it’s so beautiful!!! I took my grown daughter there a few years ago and we’ve been back 3 times for a mother-daughter pilgrimage. I so appreciated reading your books and following your blog. Thanks so much for sharing your journey with me and the rest of the world – it has done a lot of good!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dear Carolina: As you know, Sarah and I took the plunge and moved, not only to a new city, but also to a different country. We had some friends in London, Ontario, but only a few, so we were taking a big chance. We saw the move as a chance to start over, in our case, in a smaller city, and to pursue new ventures. In the nine years that we have been in Canada, lots of interesting horizons have opened up for us. We have both met lots of new friends, and have gotten involved in more artistic pastimes. I am very involved with the Canadian Celtic Choir, and Sarah is a member of almost every gardening and horticultural group in London. We followed our instincts, and a long trail of serendipity when we made our move, and we have never looked back. Heraklion is a wonderful city, and I bet that your life will blossom anew after you make the move. Good luck. Wendy

    Liked by 1 person

  11. May the light of the Goddess shine on you. Your heart has guided you to care for yourself. Your inner wisdom will give you courage, strength and compassion to carry on. Blessed Be.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I certainly wish you good luck and happiness and success wherever you go. I hate moving, but sometimes we just gotta let go of the before and move into the after. I know you’ll succeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Carol, I enjoy your posts and wish you well. As a single senior woman, I can relate to all the comments. I just returned from a Mediterranean cruise with several days in Chania and Athens. Someday, I would like to take your trip to see the spiritual side of Greece. I’m in serious need of a spirituality reboot. Until then, Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Thank you for being a role model for other women; though you are simply living life as it calls to you, your listening to your inner guidance, trusting it, acting on it, and sharing it matters to so many, especially when these types of stories seldom make “prime time” in North American venues. Thank you, Grandmother Carol, and many blessings as you journey and find your new home! Happy New Year to you all.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Bright blessings on the new setting for your continued journey Carol. I will meet you in June on the Tour, but I am travelling solo in Italy and Greece for a couple months beforehand, planning to be in Lesbos around May10-24. I was looking at staying in Skala Eressos at the Mascot Hotel, possibly helping out at Happy Family Community Center as able. Is your home on Lesbos available for rent? Where is it located? Any suggestions appreciated.

    >

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Carol, I appreciate how honest, frank and open you are about the challenges you have faced. I believe your accounts help others to face their challenges openly, too.

    No move is ever easy, as you have said, but I pray that your’s is seamless. May you find beauty, peace, and love wherever you land! I wish you all the best, always!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh, Carol, I had no idea you were having such a difficult time! It’s understandable that in view of your situation, you know it’s time to move on. As you indicate in your post, however, doing the right thing is often not the easy thing.

    I hope you will find a new, fulfilling life in Crete. Please allow me add my good wishes for your future.

    This year my husband and I left the house where we lived for more than 41 years and moved to a retirement community. It was a difficult transition and I still ask myself whether we did the right thing. Certainly life is easier in some respects, and although there are no Goddess women here, I am forming relationships with progressive-minded women.

    If I ever am fortunate enough to visit Crete again, I would love to meet you in person. Blessed be.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. I’m so glad you took the leap and made the move. Having experienced life as a single woman in Molivos I can certainly understand the challenges. Village life can be very difficult.

    Your words and feelings – “I consider myself intelligent and charming and fun to be around. Though I am highly educated and involved in environmental work and politics, I can also talk about the weather, people, and television programs. Despite the diversity of my interests, I find myself isolated in my village.” can be experienced in many places I think when one thinks and feels deeply.

    Your words and the words of so many others here give me courage as I face my own big changes which are just around the corner. May this New Year bring you much peace, happiness and a sense of growing community.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Oh Carol, as you say pulling up stakes is scary…As a single woman of twenty five years I still see the stigma around the woman who lives alone. It seems we are condemned to a peculiar form of loneliness. Part of the reason I have been trying to live in Northern New Mexico is because of that loneliness…but I have found much the same thing here – couples rule. Fortunately I have not sold my house in Maine because i discovered summers here were impossible and I miss the North Country, if not the people… so for as long as I can manage it i will return to my home in Maine during the summers. I am VERY fortunate to live here in an adobe where I do not pay rent so I am hoping that low expenses here will balance out the traveling back and forth… I put my house on the market and thankfully – oh so thankfully it did not sell…. I would make certain that you are really ready to move permanently before you try to sell your beautiful house.

    What I have discovered is that the same kind of conflict occurs here as in Maine – it has taken me two years to fully experience this reality …. the world today, is not a friendly place for single women.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. To find a home where we feel at home, where we have basic needs and fantastical needs met, desires and wants and life that dazzles us into living, blessed be all of us on our journeys, you especially, dear. May you always be taken care of and able to take care of others.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. You keep blessing Women with your valor and authentic generosity of spirit. Reading I felt closer to you, and this gives me comfort. As a woman alone for over eighteen years, I am sorely familiar with the “…single women are still apparently viewed with some kind of suspicion.” Aware of the uneasiness in others, I have been on pilgrimage since leaving the center of bliss and harmony where i lived for twenty-two years. This voluntary exile and pilgrimage made me hold on to like-minded and remarkable friends through writings, in silent meditations… Love keeps giving me great solace. Though sometimes I wonder, how wonderful it would be to enjoy the closeness of a kindred one… I am happy for you, Carol, in your treasured closeness to the man of the Taverna and his sons. Counting on Goddess’ Love, he is one fantastically lucky man in this world!
    Goddess keeps showing up in every turn you take! She’s with you “pulling up stakes!”

    Liked by 2 people

  22. I have made multiple moves alone and yes, it is scary, even when one knows it is the right thing to do. You will flouish in your new move. You have already been welcomed; there will be many more people who can see you and appreciate you and your talents. Your light will shine.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Bless your heart, Carol…I’ve nothing different to add to the comments above. Except maybe to say good on you for asking for the support you need…

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Blessings for Solstice renewal and joy in the New Year to all of you who commented or simply read my post. It is good to know that none of us are “the only one.” And thanks for all your blessings and good wishes for my continuing journey. I woke to cold rain on Christmas morn and am making progress with my packing. Hopefully the weather will not deter the ferryboats tomorrow night and the next night so that I can get to Crete as planned.

    Liked by 4 people

  25. Blessings on you, Carol, and good luck with your move! I am a widow and live in a small town in Maine and I have found that the solution is to hang out with other single women. Luckily I was able to find like-minded women. Now my Mom lives with me, which is working out well. We invite our single female friends over for the holidays.

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Carol, all my good wishes are with you. I just taught Women & Religion in the US at our seminary. A 70-something man who audits various courses took it. As an auditor, he didn’t have to do a presentation, but he chose to do so. Each student had to read a biography or autobiography about a woman important in this field. He chose you, because his daughter is interested in feminist, post-Christian thought. He read a lot of your work and material about you, and did an excellent presentation. He believes he understands his daughter’s ideas about religion much better now and that this is a very good thing — not so that he can correct or convert her, but so he can appreciate and communicate about her beliefs. You do good work and lasting work, work that matters. May you be well and happy wherever you go.

    Liked by 3 people

  27. All good wishes on your journey to this new adventure and phase of your life! Clearly it is time for you to move on and it is wise and wonderful that such an opportunity has opened up for you. I look forward to reading about your experiences in your new home!

    Liked by 3 people

  28. Your brave Carol, so very brave, and its always easier to stay with the familiar even though that is causing pain. I am finding it difficult to be here because even in relationships with my family I feel lonely. It was so wonderful to be surrounded by other like minded women on your pilgrimage and it’s just not here in Saint Paul, yet anyway.

    I am connecting with others and trying in the New Year a community gathering (spaghetti supper) at my home once a month for the purpose of creating connections in a safe space.

    For now my new job in the school has opened my eyes to structural racism and supporting those kiddos who have much less than myself, including housing.

    May this new year bring great confidence,

    Heather Ann

    Liked by 1 person

  29. trust your gut!! you are so strong.

    Like

  30. wishing you all the best – i know how hard it can be to be on your own sometimes, but someone will come into your life before you know it.

    Like

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