Being a regular member of EGVUS means that you have made a whole bunch of juvenile friends, who come to the yard for lessons and volunteering. You see, in the minds of the locals, equestrian is an activity for kids and not even a sport. It is weird and shameful for a woman in her thirties to practice equestrian in any way -at least this is how an average person will see it over here. There are, of course other adult riders in the club, but the problem is, they are few and live quite far and only visit EGVUS for their lessons. So, I haven’t met any of them yet, except Christina, who is close to my age, but is busy with her marriage and lives 30 km away.
Anyways, I have ended up with some good juvenile friends. A bit awkward for a 31-year old, but hanging around the yard with them and watching them skip around and talk cheerfully has had a quite positive effect on my mood. Out of these friends, 11 year-old Maria is my dearest. Kinda, “you can harm her only over my dead body”, which, is translated over here as “if you touch Maria, I will kill you”. She is a little cousin of mine as well, which I guess adds a bonus to the rapport.
Last Friday, Maria celebrated her birthday at EGVUS, and I had been invited of course. I hadn’t been to EGVUS for more than two weeks due to my heavy schedule, so I was very happy to know that the party was going to take place there. And an excellent opportunity for a break. So, I went to a bookshop, bought a nice pencil case filled to the top with crayons and pencils (given the fact that the school year began twenty days ago), and prepared for the party.
As soon as I got out of the car and having not entered the club, a cheerful Maria began to shout, ran to me like crazy and hugged me on the street to the point I could hardly breathe lol. If you haven’t left home to go abroad for a few years, you cannot understand how such moments feel when you return home.
When I managed to get in, Yannis was in the middle of his last lesson for the day. As soon as he saw me, he began asking questions about my plans concerning equestrian. He had been used to me visiting EGVUS almost every day, so I guess he had begun to wonder whether I maintain my interest in the sport. But, as soon as I told him I was busy, he said “I know you have been facing problems”, making me feel my face going red, so I just told him about my commitments and my currently stained relationship with dad. I got the answer “literally whatever you do to him, your father will forgive it”. I’m not sure this was the answer I wanted to hear, though, because my goal has been actually to get on dad’s nerves for once in my life. Because, in my early thirties, I have finally become angry enough to do it.
Yannis is quite good at telling how people feel and what they think. I’m not sure how he does it, but he’s quite successful at it. He will never try to comfort or lie to you just to sound nice. He will tell you exactly what he thinks about your situation, no matter if you have told him what your situation is or not. And in my case, this is quite easy for him; his father and twin brother have been among dad’s most loyal clients for over 30 years, which goes hand-in-hand with a 30-year old friendship between my family and theirs in the Greek world of commerce.
Upon my arrival, I saw that the club was full of balloons, hanging from every possible spot and the atmosphere was quite cheerful. It was going to be a very special birthday party, because everyone loves Maria. Even Ali, the little migrant from Pakistan who works in the yard, was wearing his formal traditional apparel in celebration of Maria’s birthday. He claims he’s 18 years old, which I personally doubt, because he looks no older than 16. But he’s too good for anyone to care. And he’s friendly and trustful to the kids, which is super.
Soon Maria’s parents arrived, along with other adults, including her grandparents, who arrived carrying tasty traditional food (yummy)! While in the outside I was interacting with adults and kids, in the inside I was thinking whether this month is a good time to begin training again. The problem is, that my heavy academic commitments -with which goes stress, thus mocha, butter and sweets- have given me quite generous “gift” of fat. Except for receiving my riding equipment from the transporter’s depot, I do need to get fit enough to handle and ride Yannis’s huge ex-racers.
It was a nice party, not only because I had lots of fun and ate good food. It was an opportunity for reflection on, which is rarely offered to me.