By Alexia Martha Symvoulidou

I remember

my childhood

June / my birthday month

Peaches rinsed in the Mediterranean

Wheatish complexion colored by the sun

Sticky watermelon juices

Nap in the shadow of pine trees and tamarisks

Long mountain excursions by car

Long summer months at the village with the grandparents

September

Hot days, cool nights

Playground after school

Almond chocolates from grandpa

Weekends at grandma’s

Play with the dollhouse and painting

Strolls in the center of Athens

Street names: Ifaistou, Athinas, Omirou, Nikis

Trips to mount Parnitha

We learn to recognize the plants, the birds, the insects

I get frustrated cause I don’t like grandpa’s cooking

My friends are called Elena, Zoi, Dimitris, Giannis, Mirka

My parents’ friends live in other areas of Athens

They often go for holidays to their villages

I have a couple of friends from other countries too

I never learned how to bike (Athens is full of cars)

December

Ermou street is adorned with lights for Christmas

The air smells of freshly baked chestnuts

We are waiting for Santa Claus (the presents, that is)

I wish for snow, I get hail

But when it snows, the white mountaintops are magical

We make a snowman on the balcony, while we still can

April

It’s almost Easter

I am already panicky about fireworks

Everything blooms

Poppies everywhere

At the village I play with sheep and ride on donkeys

If it’s warm, we might dive in the river

And dad might catch a trout or two

The lamb on the spit, traditional music, drunk relatives around

Back in Athens

National Gallery, Natural History Museum, children’s theater

A few more weeks with dad gone at work and then it’s summer again.

I live

my childhood

June / my birthday month

Blueberries rinsed in the North Sea

Pearl-white skin, straw hat, tons of sunscreen

Sticky wild peach juices

Nap in the shade of chestnut and maple trees

Long dune excursions by train

We send postcards and pictures to the grandparents

September

Wellies and the first rains

Playground after school

Carrot cake, bites stolen from mom’s

Weekends dad is home

Play with clay and books and piano

Strolls in the center of Haarlem

Street names: Grote Houtstraat, Korte Zijlstraat, Gedempte Oude Gracht

Trips to Elswout forest

We learn to recognize the plants, the birds, the insects

I get frustrated cause mom won’t let me eat more fries (or ice cream)

My friends are called Pablo, Matthijs, Maia, Katelynn, Dicky James

My parents’ friends live in other Dutch cities

From time to time they go on holidays at their homelands

I have a couple of Dutch friends too

I already know how to bike

Bike lanes extend to infinity in front of me

December

Grote Markt is adorned with lights for Christmas

The air smells of freshly baked oliebollen

We are waiting for Sinterklaas (the presents, that is)

I wish for snow, I get wind and rain

But when it snows, the frozen canals are magical

We run to the ice skating rings, without caring for the bruises on our knees

April

It’s almost Easter

I can’t wait to find the eggs hidden by the bunny

Everything blooms

Poppies everywhere

At Texel we visit the farms with the newborn sheep and go seal-watching

If it’s warm, we might take off our coats and go to the beach for seashells

Picnic in the forest, hummus and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and fresh lemonade

Back in Haarlem

Teyler’s and Frans Hals museums and children’s theater

A few more weeks with dad gone at work and then it’s summer again.

(We might go to Greece this year)

-Alexia Martha Symvoulidou

Alexia studied architecture in Greece and the Netherlands and happily abandoned it after her Master’s degree to focus on creative writing, illustration and messily eating brunches with her partner and Wild Thing aka toddler girl. She now lives in the Netherlands, guides creative writing workshops, and is up for illustration and writing gigs. You can find her at “Alexia’s Writings and Designs” on facebook or alexia.symvoulidou@gmail.com

Cover image also by Alexia

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