I'm in Lesvos, Greece in a tiny village called Skala Eresou. A coastal village so tiny that when the summer is over, the people who live here pack up their things and head up the mountain to their winter homes and stay there until the following summer when they move back down. Festive restaurants and jewelry shops line the beach. The people are warm, friendly, and ready to joke. The weather is flawless. Sunny, 80 something degrees fahrenheit, no humidity and very few mosquitos (as long as you stick to the beachy breezy areas). My no-nonsense sea facing room goes for about 50 euros a night. So, in other words, I'm in paradise. And I feel incredibly lucky to be here. I'm here on a writing retreat with two wonderful authors and instructors, Sarah Bullen and Kate Emmerson, plus 12 fabulous writers and humans. Most of the writers are working on memoirs. I arrived with the intention of restructuring my women's fiction novel ALL THE MOMENTS IN BETWEEN, but yesterday I realized I'm also supposed to write a memoir about surviving Chronic Lyme Disease. So, I'm not sure which I'll do first but I know I'm lucky to have the time to do it. Speaking of that, as I post pictures or videos about where I am, many people are commenting that I'm living the dream and I wanted to share a little bit about how I've been able to do that.
If you’ve been following this blog, you know that last summer, I got rid of my apartment, car, and almost all of my belongings and flew off to the Caribbean. I had been living in LA for 25 years and I loved (and always will love) LA, but I didn’t love having to work 50 or 60 hours a week to afford rent and dinner or drinks out once in a while. I wanted to see the world, but I couldn’t even afford to see Arizona. During the pandemic, I realized that the less things I had to pay for, the less money I’d spend, and the less I’d have to work. So, I got rid of the things. I’m in an incredibly unique situation. I don’t have a partner or children to consider or care for. I have a mom and a stepdad with whom this winter, I was able to spend a few months in the Vermont mountains. I also had the pleasure of spending four months at my father and his wife’s second home in California wine country while they were in their main home in Florida. All that time, while I was not paying rent, I worked and saved money. Travel is expensive. Even though this Greece retreat is inexpensive in comparison to others, it will still cost almost two month’s rent in LA. And the week I’ll spend in in Santorini and Mykonos afterwards will cost about the same. (It's far more expensive and posh on those islands than this Lesvos village.)
Because it’s so expensive to live in certain parts of the US, like LA, most Americans don’t get to travel at all. We’re just trying to pay the bills and exist. So, I know how fortunate I am. As I sit on my balcony trying not to let the gorgeous view distract me from writing, I’m reminding myself over and over that I am in fact, living the dream.