Cate Roser

And then there was the water: still and brilliant. I swim out until I am surrounded by horizon to discover, again: the calm.

I could say that in this moment I felt held — as if by a mother — as I stared at the sky. But perhaps the metaphor would be too easy: my mother, too, is in love with the ocean.

In Platamonas we stayed in the Kronos Hotel — Kronos: the Father, the Child-Eater, eternal Time. It was not the first nor the last in a series of hotels named for the deities of the ancient Greek world. I found the names, in their tourist gauche, charming: I, too, was a tourist, searching, in some respect, for the mystery of the ancient world amid souvenir shops and marble columns. 

I came to the town with the feeling of being full with history: the awesome and perhaps terrifying stone structures I witnessed at Athens and Delphi had forced me to confront the immensity of time. In doing so, I face Kronos in blinding bareness, and — despite my disposition to resist feelings spiritual and metaphysical — I submit.

But now here I stay in a hotel where the rooms are small and the bed is hard and I still face father Time.

I escape him only in the water: I swim out, far beyond where I can be seen or see, and leave myself to float on the waves, following the sun as my stoic conductor. In the ocean’s immensity, time becomes trivial. All that we may know is the eternal bond of the sun and the sea which we call Horizon.

In those hours I would imagine myself as returned to the womb, wondering if this was how it felt. Paddling back to the shore, I pretend that I am using my muscles for the very first time. Emerging back to the sensual world, I could imagine Birth as Freud pictured it: awesome, yes, and terrifying.

But the water is only made brilliant by the sun. At night, its fathoms seem endless. I am home again, looking out from a dock, and the water is not calm, either. Next to my friends, the metaphor is, again, obvious: we’re each about to jump into an unknown future, each alone. The water is again only water as we jump in and shriek from the cold — sensation trumps metaphor. 

As we paddle around, we again find the calm. There’s a slowness to our conversation: I imagine each word as a drop of honey savored on my lips. I am aware that I may not taste it again for some time. But I am no longer concerned by that: I see it only as another object floating in the time-water. Soon, I will lose it in the immensity.