Saturday Night Apollo Express Fever

My knapsack must weigh a hundred pounds but it is not uncomfortable at all. I guess it's the straps and the distribution of weight, because the walk through Plaka to the train station at Monastiraki is easy, even while pushing Amarandi's stroller. When we get to the port city of Pireaus there is no boat where ours is supposed to be docked, so we stand with a crowd of people waiting until it sails into the smelly harbor, backs in, lowers its ramp and ties up. Dimitri the handsome policeman from Sifnos sees me and we talk. More at home in the New Wave clubs and discos then on the beat he had forsaken the easy life of an island cop and taken a post in Athens where he has been for the ten years since I last saw him. He is on his way to visit his family in Kythnos, the first island that the boat will stop at. After we board the ferry, I bring Amarandi up to the top deck to watch as we sail out of the harbor. I point to another ship. "There's another boat just like ours."

"We're not on a boat." She tells me and I realize that all she knows is that we had walked into a big garage with a bunch of cars and trucks. There is no reason that she would associate that with being on a boat. It makes me wonder about other things like when she falls asleep and we put her in the car and she wakes up somewhere else. How about when she falls asleep in the car on the way to take her grandmother to the airport and then doesn't see her again for three months? She just accepts these strange breaks in time and location as being totally normal. Just like now. We have walked into a big garage. Now we are standing on the roof and buildings and boats are going by. Then we will walk out the garage door and we will be on a Greek island. Why not?

Between the islands of Kythnos and Serifos we have a terrifying experience. Amarandi has been playing in the luggage room on the racks, that to her look like monkey-bars. I've been talking to some Swedish people in the sitting area, around the corner from her, but when I check to see if she is OK, she is gone. I walk hurriedly over to where Andrea is reading, thinking Amarandi has come back to her, but Andrea is alone. I'm too scared to tell her our daughter is missing so I run back to look for Amarandi again. I search the ship like a maniac, up and down stairs and hallways. Finally I realize that the only way I will find her is by getting Andrea to tell the crew to start a ship wide search. She runs to the purser's office and explains that our daughter is missing. He hands her a microphone. I'm frantically running around downstairs when I hear Andrea's voice calling over the PA system..."Amarandi". Just as I am wondering what the purpose is, Andrea questions the officer as to what use it will be to have the name of a lost two year old echoing through the ship. "Ask her to report to the pursers office," he tells her.

I enlist the Swedish family I had been talking to and they finally find Amarandi in the first class lounge playing. She doesn't even know she is lost but I on the other hand, am a wreck. I chug a beer to chase the terror from my system. Andrea has gone upstairs and out onto the deck where she stares in horror at the darkness, the space between the railings and the black sea below. She is already thinking about grieving procedure when you are in the first week of a three month holiday. What do you do? Go home? Continue the vacation in mourning? Andrea also suffers an extra twenty minutes of anguish, because it takes us that long to find her after we locate Amarandi. To her credit though, she doesn't yell or blame me for losing our daughter. I guess it's my ashen complexion that tells her I have suffered enough.

Amarandi punishes us by misbehaving for the last couple hours of the trip. She is completely out of control, yelling at the top of her lungs and refusing to be still or quiet. When she begins to hit Andrea I grab her and look her straight in the eyes while holding her arm tightly, trying to sound as stern and as serious as I know how. I remind myself of my dad and it seems to work because she stares at me in disbelief before sitting quietly back in her chair for a few minutes. She stays quiet for a little bit longer and then begins yelling again. I repeat my stern father act but this time I accidentally bump her head on the window ledge and she starts crying and doesn't stop for ten minutes. In the meantime they've announced that we will soon be arriving in Sifnos. The people around us give up on getting any more sleep and gather up their belongings to head for the back of the boat. I try to make her believe that her carrying on has irritated our neighbors and now they are leaving but she doesn't fall for the old guilt trip. Eventually she forgets she is sad and we walk down the stairs and watch them lower the ramp so we can all walk out of the garage into a new world.

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