A health scare in 2019 was the catalyst of my self-awareness and introspection journey. Rest was not a leisurely option, but instead, doctor’s orders! My hands tied, I embarked on this voyage at a time in my life when I had to pause. I perceived my health hazard as an opportunity to re-assess where and how I was allocating my time and energy. Through meditation and other self-soothing methods, I re-connected with my childhood self. Questions such as “who am I” and “what is my purpose in life” consumed me, and I returned to my roots – the island of Kythnos – to confront the answers.
Kythnos has embraced all generations of my family. My grandparents, uncles, parents, siblings, and countless cousins have resided on the island for as long as I can remember.
Come September, my siblings and I were visibly tanned and burned from not wearing sunscreen as often as we should have.
I spent every summer and Easter on the island until I turned 18. I’d spent most of my time going to the Panagia Kanala church in the town square to meet up and play with my friends. After becoming an adult, I did not return to the island. The need for exploration and the longing for freedom kept me away.
The years went by. Having met a mélange of people, places, and islands, I never expected to miss my humble island as much as I did. My parents and the friends I left behind were a huge motive for my return, and the thought of hugging my relatives again ultimately led me back to Kythnos.
I am overwhelmed with joy every time I approach the island’s port. Although I can navigate myself on the island with my eyes shut, I know that Kythnos will always guide me with its quintessential smell of thyme.
Hoping to gather photos of the island for my new website, I found myself on the liner with photographer Ioanna Tzetzoumi and make-up artist Kerasia Koui approaching Kythnos. Although we were at our dream destination, we still did not have a clear vision of the content we were aiming for. Within a few hours, we had wandered around the sea, fields, and town with the residents who opened their homes to us. We left the island with idyllic snippets.
A few months later, my friend Chrysanthos Panas passed by the island for a few days and fell in love with its locals and aura. “Why don’t we come to Kythnos more often? It is a wonderful island with hidden gems,” he told me. “I would like to include it in my new book dedicated to the Greek islands.”
So effortlessly and with great pride, Kythnos is now one of the islands featured in Assouline’s new book: “GREEK ISLANDS.” I am pleased and grateful that it has been given the exposure it deserves!