A few thoughts from my last day as a teenager

I’m not feeling nostalgic, not more than the usual, but I am sitting here reminiscing about a few things that have happened. Tomorrow I turn 20. That’s a big one, I think; two decades!

On my birthday in Luxembourg, with my grandfather and brother Alex.
On my birthday in Luxembourg, with my grandfather and brother Alex.

I still have memories of visiting my brother and my sister (my closest friends) at their home in Weimershof, Kirchberg in Luxembourg. Looking up to walk between the clean laundry, as I was obviously much shorter and walked past the hang clothes. I still think of that very moment every time I wash my clothes – you see we’ve always had a dryer so that smell is bound with their home.

The thought of standing in front of a few parents and performing just before school would break for summer holidays. My first role was a lawyer representing a couple of animals. My first day at school, the summer before I became a “big boy” and started primary school. I remember my two closest friends in Kindergarden and chasing rabbits with them, and then getting in trouble for it.

We had the most awesome field trips with my class, we would go explore everywhere we went, we would always love our hosts and they would show us magic tricks or they would just be so fascinating in our eyes for a thousand different reasons.

The world of adults, it seemed so far away, unreachable. It felt like I was always going to be 5, my parents would always be old and I would always be their son. Change; Change seemed impossible, years seemed like centuries and ageing up meant one thing, birthdays, other school year, holidays and a slow, very slow progression.

I was 8 years old when I met the architect who would play a crucial role in my future. His name, mentioned in the blog many times, was Paul Bretz. He is the father of one of my closest friends, Loukas. Unlike me, they lived in a house and most importantly they had a dog. My young brain had already chosen for me, I were to become an architect, own a house and have my own labrador.

I would spend all my summers in Greece with my grandparents and cousin(s) in Lavrion. I was always sleeping in, compared to my grandparents who would wake up early in the morning to pick up their nets and bring fresh fish to cook. My grandmother is one of the most beloved people in my life and so is my grandfather. They’ve been together for many years, yet they still fight, they still drive each other crazy if something in the family is not right but more importantly they are still in love. They have given me everything they can and I will always love them.

My mother is from the North of Greece and my father is a city boy from the capital, though originally from the South. It used to seem captivating, two people, one from somewhere “North of somewhere else” and one “South of somewhere else” to meet, exquisite! That is until I realised how, not so far away they are from each other. Still, there is quite a story there.

I grew up in Luxembourg. I never spoke the language until about the age of 15 to 16. I am proud to be Greek, I am proud to be Luxembourgish, and I am proud to be European. I am happy and grateful to have been able to grow up in a place that fostered peace, integration and cultural cohesion. I consider myself lucky, for all I have been given, from objects, to knowledge, to love and compassion. I have been given, no more than some, no less than some – it’s all relative, what I have been given in good ways, and I was brought up in a way that I can feel happy, I can feel grateful and I can appreciate it; and I do.

Konstantinos and I in the "Little Beds" in our summer house in Lavrion.
Konstantinos and I in the “Little Beds” in our summer-house in Lavrion.

And I am happy that I am capable to think that way, and I am not proud to wanting to help others, I am not proud for what I do for other people or other “acts of selflessness”, no. Proud is not how I feel, again lucky – lucky to be able to have the need to help, to understand compassion, it’s not me, it’s everyone who contributed to making my education, my morals, my life.

I was born with many privileges and I intend to make sure that in my life I give back the most that I can, the more I have the more I can give. And I am happy to know I can, because I am not special, there are thousands, millions of others who were given and are willing to give, who appreciate, who want to see changes who want to see good. So whether we race for better or we help others race, we help.

I really don’t want to ever forget. I’m ready for a new decade. Thank you for two 2 wonderful ones.

So who’s up for scrabble?

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