My favourite writing place


February 2012

Stations. That's the place. No, wait. I mean, I have never thought about it before, but if I could choose my three favourite writing “places”, then it would be my lap, agony and stations.

Agony might sound like the strangest one, but once in agony and desperation, I really feel I perform well. You know, what I am writing really expresses me. I am a drama queen. I greatly exaggerate my emotions when I write. Unconsciously. And I realise that only after I read what I have written. Have I told you the story with my dad?

Once, my father asked to read my poems. It was around two hundred of them, written between the ages of eighteen and twenty one. It took him about four days. These days he came back from work, locked himself in his room with a cup of coffee and read. The fourth afternoon he asked me how did I manage to survive such strong passions and disappointments. I answered that this was the meaning of life or something else, equally vague, I do not recall exactly my words. But this comment got me curious. I re-read my poems. They awakened memories of places, people, spaces, faces. But the memories had almost none of the bold colours of the nearly epic stories described in my writings. I was depressed. Was my memory fading so fast? Or was I so convincingly deceiving myself at that time, giving to the incidents of my life a significance absolutely out of realistic proportions? You know, it was one of those moments that you lose faith in your own self. Still, now that I am calm and peaceful, I sometimes wonder if a little hustle in my life would be worth it, if I was to produce something equally strong again. Oh well..

Why my lap, you ask. I have this privilege of being what the French would kind-heartedly call “petite”. This allows me to curl up in any place, no matter how cramped with furniture or people it is and create my own writing place. I usually rest my notebook on my thighs or even keep it horizontal between my chest and knees. I look like a capital “N” or at least I like to think of myself this way. There are a few words that I like, that start with an “N”: Newborn, Nabokov, Notorious, Northern lights, Narwhal... these kind of things.

But stations has to be my all time favourite. It also combines usually the previous two: Deep emotions and my lap. When I was 18, I was for the first time confronted with a station as a place of separation. I was leaving my home town to move 800 km away to start my studies. The next 6 years four train stations marked my life: Athens, Xanthi, Thessaloniki, Alexandroupolis. Suitcases, toasts with stale bread, the kiosk to report lost items, the always dim station lights in the early winter mornings, smoke of cigarettes, names carved on the wooden benches. Parting, meeting, embracing, crying, kissing, laughing, starting, ending. The first and the last act of so many stories took part in these train stations. And thankfully my notebook was always in my bag, ready to record and report to myself my own life. The few moments that I had said my goodbyes and was sitting in my green seat, but the train was still in the station, waiting to be loaded, I have written some of my most favourite -and pretty short- phrases. No high-class literature included. Just my poor little self. Knees bended, resting against the front seat, notebook on thighs and cheap pens with clots of ink that smudged a lot after the first pages.

And Datsik Tour
the airports.. Technically they are stations? Aren't they? I do consider them stations, so bear with me. So, airports. Cheap flights means usually waiting times for transit. My favourite part. Schiphol and El. Venizelos both have some stands with fairly nice coffee and for me the arrival and departure areas of airports are guaranteed to move me. Like good, old, Casablanca scenes in real life.

In stations you have the choice to be all by yourself and your thoughts or to be one with the World around you. No-one knows you but you feel part of humanity. I see other girls laughing and crying in boys' arms, and I see myself in the past. I see grand children holding balloons, waiting their grandparents to arrive, and I hope that this could be me in the future: the lucky 90 year old lady, that even though she is on a wheel chair, the chair is pushed by her husband and chocolate covered children's lips await to be pushed against her wrinkled cheeks.

If you think about it, stations are full of stories, they are the huge studio where trailers of life are shot every second by the security cameras.