As I write, it’s 7 AM on a Tuesday morning in Athens, Greece. Stepping out on the veranda of our Pangrati apartment, in the still, quiet, earlyness of the morning, it feels almost cool. I know that, even as I type, the blazing sun is rising over the Pentellic marble of the ancient Parthenon on the Acropolis, radiating the heat and generating higher temperatures; I am aware that, soon, the temperature will soar, no matter whether calculated in Celsius or Fahrenheit; but, it’s almost cool.
I am not stupid; I recognize that Athens, Greece in summer is identical to Houston, Texas in summer, without the humidity. I know that sweat is the constant companion of every one of my five million fellow Athenians, at least three million of whom are already in traffic gridlock or on crowded, underground metro cars, cursing each other in contemporary Greek. I know that hot weather is so common in summer that we begin every sentence with “Κάνει ζέστη, alla…” (“It’s hot, but ….”). I am certain that, when August arrives, it will be even hotter. But, at the moment, it’s almost cool!
“Almost” is admittedly “not quite,” but “almost” is far better than “not.” “Almost” is the stuff of which dreams are made. “Almost” is the gift and product of faith, memory, imagination and hope. “Almost” is, sometimes, a deliberate, willful decision to anticipate a better world. Without the capacity to articulate an occasional “almost,” none of us could anticipate an improved future or recall a treasured past.
Sure! I’ll agree! “Almost” is also the repository of disappointment, sometimes yielding to despair. “Almost” carries with it the potential for hope deferred which can so easily become hope denied. But, “almost cool” means that I haven’t entirely forgotten what “cool” is like. “Almost cool” means that, within my sweaty breast there rests a fanciful vision of a more comfortable morning or evening, somewhere in the not too distant days to come.
It’s almost cool because a rain shower visited us yesterday. It’s almost cool because scarce wind has travelled down from the surrounding hillsides and the air is cleaner for a while, this morning. It’s almost cool and, as a result, I can sit on the veranda and watch the little pinwheels spin in the slovenly air currents, even though their movement is more likely the result of the furious flapping of a few thousand dirty pigeon wings.
But, it’s almost cool again in Athens and, in a micro manner, I am celebrating. It’s certainly too hot to jump up and down and the almost coolness surely doesn’t warrant strenuous exercise. But, I am sensing the slightest possibility that the fall is coming and, for this, I am grateful. This morning, I am saying “thank you” for predictability and for routine regularity. While climate change is an undisputed reality and global warming must be acknowledged, sitting in a semi-comfortable chair on my “front porch to the world,” I am here to say that it is almost cool again in Athens!