“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”― H.P. Lovecraft
The night before my trip was one of the worst storms of that year. In a single hour, I witnessed all four seasons happening one after the other: windy rain, hail with bits of snow and a single thunderstorm, cloudy stillness and warm sunshine. Had I known that three months ago when I had decided, on the spur of the moment, to return back to my home country, Greece, for a break from the tedious routine, I wouldn’t have bothered.
But there I was, in an airport, miles and miles away from what I used to call home sweet home, waiting for almost more than twenty hours for my flight to be rescheduled. The airlines were ‘kind’ enough (cough, passage rights, cough) to provide us with a room to the nearest hotel available and a shuttle to and fro the airport. Not even a word for fast track security, but at that point, I didn’t even want to complain. Sometimes, I look back and realise that that was probably a warning sign and I should’ve probably listened. After all, didn’t I always use to take pride in my deep connection with the spirit world? But of course, most of the time I simply ignore what the universe is trying to tell me and keep doing my own thing. Like I did back then.
One does not need any kind of special powers to understand that I didn’t sleep during those twenty-plus hours. I had a long hot shower at the hotel, a small sandwich (courtesy of the hotel) and a large cup of coffee (courtesy of my own pocket) and fiddled around until the phone rang. I hastily picked up my unpacked luggage and ran to the lobby where the rest of the passengers had already assembled. Like me, they had all agreed to the devilish deal of “resting” to that godforsaken one-star hotel instead of receiving compensation and go home.
We got on the shuttle and once we finally got through security, we had to wait - again - for new directions. The wind was so strong they couldn’t steady the airstairs to the plane door. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait under the raging, unforgiving rain like the poor airport workers. My heart ached as I was watching them fight against the tempest to accommodate us. Finally, after an agonising hour of literal pandemonium, we were allowed to board. I could hear the pilot’s shaky voice from the speakers and, for some reason, I had to reassure myself that everything was going to be alright instead of running away as fast as I could. How foolish I was.
The next time I opened my eyes we were already above the proud mountains of Crete and ready to land. For a moment I thought that all went well and, like my beloved grandma used to do, I crossed myself. I tried sending my thanks to the cosmos from the bottom of my heart but way before I managed to finish my prayer, I felt the plane tilting.
We were making circles constantly. The pilot informed us that it was hard to land due to the mist. Mist over Heraklion? Now it was the turn of other passengers to cross themselves. I could hear several of them cursing everything they held sacred. The air hostesses had buckled up in their seats and wouldn’t move anything but their eyes. Their panic was beyond obvious. That made me think: if a trained professional is scared then what am I supposed to do?
I held the amethyst that was wrapped around my neck with a leather strip in my hand and curled my fingers in a tight fist. I prayed for the pilot’s clear mind. I prayed for the safety of everyone. I prayed for my weak heart to stop fluttering in my chest. I took a deep breath and kept mumbling the two-liners of my spell, hoping this time it would be successful.
And it was.
After the heroic efforts of everyone involved, the plane landed and we all marched through the hail inside the airport terminal. A few of the older folks got on their knees and kept kissing the land under them. I wasn’t surprised. That was quite an Odyssean journey; definitely not for the fainthearted. I managed to get my luggage and got a bus to the city centre. It had been ages since I was last here. Everything had changed so much and for the better. People finally cared for their shared land and it showed. I was relieved.
And I kept my relief until I arrived at my grandmother’s house. She wasn’t around that day. My aunt had convinced her - god knows how - to leave the house and stay at my uncle’s village in the south. Ever since my grandfather got sick and died, she kept refusing any offers of travelling and would often lock herself in for days. I was glad she was finally coming around and I was even more glad to have the whole place to myself. Luckily, my cousin had stayed behind to give me the keys. He stayed for dinner and, after the weather seemed to have calmed down, jumped in his car and left. And I was on my own.