Fifteen years ago, I bought my dream home in Molivos, Lesbos, one of the most stunning villages in the world. Over the next two years I renovated a listed Neoclassical house that had been neglected for over thirty years, restoring it to its original beauty. One of my friends who visited exclaimed that it looked like a movie set. Someone else said that the final result was “more Greek than Greek.” I thought this would be my forever home. But, as I have discussed in an earlier blog, I came to feel isolated in a small village.
Two years ago, I followed my heart to Crete, renting a lovely apartment in Heraklion, followed by a house near the sea. Then back to Lesbos, travel to the US and Canada, and Crete again after Christmas. I would have been happy to move back to the apartment I had rented the previous year, but this time I would bring my little dog. The apartment under my friend’s house outside Heraklion seemed like a good compromise, but the drive to Heraklion proved treacherous and parking difficult.
Moreover, due to a series of family crises, my friend had to stay with her parents, and I was out in the countryside on my own. I moved again, spending the late winter and spring in another friends’ studio apartment by the sea. It turned out to be the coldest wettest winter Crete had seen in a long time, and I spent more time inside than I had planned. Next, I moved to a small apartment with a spectacular view just a few feet from the sea. But I missed my things and being able to create my own space. It was the middle of summer when I realized I was tired of moving.
Fast forward to the end of the summer. I would have to leave the apartment at the end of September, I didn’t want to go back to Lesbos, but I hesitated to move into yet another rental. I looked around the village where I was staying but found nothing suitable, so I started looking for something to rent or buy in Heraklion. Everything is online these days as I had discovered when I bought a used car in the spring. I had my heart set on a small Neoclassical house near the city center with a courtyard garden. Although these houses exist, many of them have been torn down to build small apartment units, and there were none on the market.
Enter my friend Breedge, who knocked on my door and offered to help me find the perfect place. She had been looking online for her brother who wanted to buy an investment property in Crete, so she knew the drill. Because I loved the location of my first apartment, which was outside the city walls but a ten-minute walk through a park to the city center, I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to live. Not inside the walls where parking is impossible, but close enough to walk. After a few days I figured out how to restrict the search to the neighborhoods I was interested in. I was still looking for a house with a garden, but my second choice was an apartment with a view of the mountains and the sea.
Breedge kept showing me villas farther out of the city and above my preferred price range. I was looking at postwar bungalows with gardens but no charm. There was one large Neoclassical, but it was in deplorable condition, and Breedge told me she would kill me if I tried to buy it. Another friend suggested that I look above the price I had set for myself to see what was available.
I went back to the listings and one apartment stood out. It was a little larger than the ones I had been looking at and just above the top price I had been entering. It was on the 5th floor of a small building with a view over the city to the sea from the balcony. Its large elegant open plan living room, kitchen, and dining room seemed perfectly designed for my antique style pink and royal blue velvet couch and chairs, my large oval dining table and lace tablecloths, and my beloved pink, green, and dark blue oriental carpets. Best of all, it had two parking spaces—almost unheard of in Heraklion–one for me and one for visiting guests.
The waiting game began. I contacted the realtor on Saturday, but he did not get back to me until Monday. He finally scheduled an evening viewing on Friday, despite my telling him we didn’t want to drive back to where we were living in the dark. I kept pouring over the photographs on the listing, trying to figure out where I would put my furniture. Towards the end of the week another listing for the same apartment turned up, and I recognized the company as one I had contacted a year earlier when I was looking to rent. I remembered the sweet voice and manner of the woman to whom I had spoken. I called her. No, she was not a realtor, she said, but she could direct me to one. He was able to schedule a viewing on the same Friday and during the day.
The realtor was late and the tenant had an appointment, so we were rushed. The inside of the apartment was even better than it looked in the photos and there were three (!) balconies with views. Moreover, it was—unusually for Heraklion—in a well-kept, tree-lined neighborhood, as we discovered when we followed the realtor to a nearby coffee shop. As soon as we sat down, Breedge said, using lingo we had both learned watching British property programs, “Make a cheeky offer.” I would have never done that on my own, but en-couraged by my friend, I did.
The owner rejected the offer as expected, saying he had been offered more. I made a counter offer and then we waited again. During the next week the owner seemed to be playing games with us. Finally, he agreed to meet on the Friday. I saw the apartment again with a second friend who confirmed that it was perfect for me and with an architect who said it was in great condition and a very special opportunity. In the office of my lawyer, the owner told us the other deal fell through, and we agreed on a price. The next day, I signed the pre-contract. Coincidentally, the Goddess Pilgrimage began that evening.
I am now back in Lesbos waiting again—for the contract and for the tenants to move. Not surprisingly, I was exhausted and exhilarated after the pilgrimage. As the dust settles, I ponder my decision. Will the new home be as beautiful as I imagine it will be when I move in? Will I make the new friends I hope to make? Will I like living in a city after so many years in the country? Will I be happy?
I feel the need for guidance and for the first time in my life I try a free online tarot reading. It tells me everything I know and need to know. My current position is the Hermit—I am spending time alone, pondering, resting, and recuperating. The Fool is in the position of what I want most, the reader says I just want to be happy and that I will be. The Lovers are in the fear position, she says I will find love if I give up fears and open my heart. Death (and rebirth), a time of absolute endings and new beginnings, is in my near future, exactly right, as I am about to leave my dream home and my dream island and start anew. The Magician could try to cross me so I need to be careful, especially where money is concerned. The outcome is the Sun, success, joy, and happiness.
I do not practice divination often but when I ask I sometimes receive the guidance I need. This reading does not tell me what I do not know so much as it confirms what I already know, that I can trust that I made the right decision.
Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator who will soon be moving to Heraklion, 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 Parliament of World’s Religions.