It was spring of 1981. I was in love with a blond girl from the all-girls school that was several blocks away from our own, all-boys school, in central Athens. For both of us this was our last year at school. Like our schoolmates we were working hard for the national university examinations. We lived like automata: waking up early, going to school till midday, back home for a quick-lunch, then rushing to the tutoring classes that prepared us for the exams. We would finish tutoring classes around ten, sometimes later; we would wade back home to chew our dinner and sink to a sleep soaked in trigonometry.
We had exchanged only a few words till then, a quick hello, glances, as she walked in front of our schoolyard with her friends, on her way home. Girls finished half hour earlier than us boys so they would be safe from our adolescent urges; at least that was the idea. Although whoever cooked up that scheme failed to factor in the invincibility of love. Eros thou art unbeatable in battle, says Euripides in Medea. Our teachers ought to have known better.
Feigning sudden illness I was excused from classroom one hour earlier and went to hide behind some bushes in the little park in front of our school. I waited for her till I saw her coming. She was not really surprised to see me jumping out of the bush and saying hi like a dam ass. Her friends laughed. As if they expected this to happen they shrugged and giggled and left her alone with me. We looked at each other like two ants communicating with telepathy. We had to vanish as quickly as possible from there, prying eyes from the school windows squinted, trying to make up who we were. She told me that her parents were away for the day, that she did not have to go back home so soon. We turned a corner and walked together to another park further away, where we could have some privacy. It was a warm and sunny day, with a cool refreshing breeze ruffling the leaves of the trees. We sat on the grass, and I smelled the sweetness of her sweat, and we kissed. We forgot our automatic lives.
Evening found us still at the park, not having exchanged much talk, just exploring each other’s bodies to the extent that this was possible given the public nature of the place and that we had to keep our clothes on. But even if we had taken them off I would not know what more to do. Women were still terra incognita, unexplored continents where every atom of my body urged me to explore and, hopefully, invade; but without a map how much invasion could I possibly do?
Since that day we saw each other more often, we stole time between tutoring classes to the detriment of our exam results, we became a couple of sorts. After school was out and the exams were over we each followed our parents to the different places for our summer holidays. Our separation was foretold. Nevertheless, she remained imprinted in my mind like a huge poster, an icon of expanding proportions occupying every space of thought available. That summer was destined to taste of nothing but nostalgia. I constantly sulked as I carried my heavy body around our beach house. My parents thought I was depressed because of too much study. I would swim in the morning and come back to spend the rest of the day indoors listening to my records, and writing letters to her. I would write one letter to her every day, put it in a shoe box, hide it under my bed and wait for September, to return to Athens and send the whole lot to her home address. I listened to “Perfect Day” by Lou Reed over and over, to relive that first date with her at the park.