Seeing the images of Byron on Addie Tsai's website made me think of one of my favorite recent memories, sublime at the time and somewhat terrifying in retrospect. (It's as though I can never admit that certain things are enjoyable except while they are going on.) Swimming in the middle of the night, in the bay at Messolonghi, near enough to where Byron would swim that we talked about him, and Shelley, and Shelley's death and Byron's supposed deformities, Trelawney's possibly (probably, given the source) fictional account of his time alone with Byron's corpse. And sex, and homosexuality, bisexuality, and marriage and divorce, on theirs and our own terms. And it was so cold we were shaking, but the stars were crystal-clear if you looked away from the waterside bars where the more adult adults who'd accompanied us were drinking, having retreated from the sea.
I am glad I went, although it seemed unnecessarily torturous to have to speak on a topic unrelated to my real interests before a room of seemingly hostile faces. Putting a real landscape behind the story, real people who still remember Lord Byron as someone besides a poet and a scandal, gave all of the hours I spent on my father's project a context that makes them somewhat more justifiable. I'm not sure it justifies submitting to the total terror I feel speaking in front of anyone, which is reencroaching now at just the memory, but nevertheless I'm glad I went, if only for the vines snaking across the inside ceiling of the hotel, the homemade ouzo and dancing, jumping a bonfire at midsummer, and to be surrounded by shallow spreading waters in every direction.
It makes me somewhat uncomfortable while extremely grateful to think of myself and my father in this way. I can remember reading his description of his first project, years ago, dumbstruck by the vision of him as a real person, cradling unknowingly the first seeds of my destruction in the form of the idea that what we do is what we are.