Just like in the Tom Petty song.
It’s August 31. My husband is a schoolteacher in Greece, which means that on September 1, he is required to show up, in person, at the school where he will be teaching for the duration of the 2010-2011 school year.
Last school year, 2009-2010, he was teaching on our little island, a 9 hour ferry ride + 6 hour train ride + 4 hour car ride from his parents’ house in the far NE corner of Greece by the Turkish border.
Our little island is so overrun with tourists in the summer (July and August) that the little house where we were living changes from €240/month to €120/night. We obviously can’t afford that so we had to pack up all of our belongings into our little Euro car and board the ferry, then the train, and then drive out to his parents’ house, where we dumped all our stuff and the car, before flying down to Athens for my summer job.
When my summer job ended two weeks ago, we flew back to the in laws’ and started staying with them, the idea being that we would use that time to pack up our stuff, stock up on stuff we can’t get on the island (a lot of things), and then start the process of moving back in reverse.
The only problem was that there was no guarantee that we would be going back to the same island. The Greek system officially considers schoolteachers “soldiers” (peacetime soldiers perhaps, but still soldiers nonetheless) who are expected to carry out orders with no notice and are not considered to have families or personal lives.
So here it is, 9:20pm on August 31, and we are supposed to be on the island by tomorrow.
The only problem is, they still haven’t told us which island to go to.
Because my husband is a teacher, he is paid on the expectation that he shows up at work every day starting September 1. If we’re not on the island tomorrow, he doesn’t get paid, or more accurately, it gets counted as vacation time (which, obviously, since teachers have the summer off, they don’t get a lot of “extra” during-the-school-year days off).
If we find out tomorrow, and it does turn out to be the same island as last year, which is what we expect, we will not be able to leave tomorrow. That’s because leaving tomorrow (Wednesday) means getting to the ferry port on Thursday, but there is no ferry on Thursday. There is a ferry tomorrow, but the next one is Friday. So we will not be on the island until Friday. That’s another day of “vacation” counted against us.
All of course in the context of us being ready to go for the past 12 days at least.
Instead, we’re sleeping on the in laws’ living room couch (not a pull-out couch, just a couch), while their small apartment is full of the two parents, one brother, us, the 86 year old grandmother, and a large dog. Because we are in the living room in an open-floor-plan apartment, it also is the same room as the kitchen and the dining room and access to the balcony, as well as the place where the exterior door opens into.
This means we are always the last people to be able to go to bed (last night my father in law wanted to watch a basketball game until 2am – and the TV can only be watched by sitting on the couch where we sleep), and we wake up when the first person gets up (which is my brother in law, who comes into the living room/kitchen every morning at 6am to make a cold coffee using a blender. In between 2am and 6am, the dog is on the balcony barking. So to say that we get 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night would be … generous. It’s more like 4 hours of interrupted, poor quality, sweat-covered sleeplike substance.
I am so exhausted and I just want to sleep, find out where we’re moving yesterday, get through the two-day journey, find an affordable and decent place to live, unpack our stuff, and start living our lives again.