The next stop on our journey in celebration to Dionysia was near the water again, but for a change, it was not an ocean, but the Yarra River in Melbourne, Australia. Standing a few feet off the Fed Square, I took Amphitrite’s hand and navigated the crowded streets of the city center. Just a few blocks north, we stopped in front of the Athenaeum Theatre, where there was a small mob waiting for us. One of the local schools had penned a play, and we were the guests of honor. It helped that I had donated a lot of money toward the school under an anonymous name.
The celebrations in Melbourne were in full swing, but not in the city center. There were more than a handful of communities such as Darebin, Moreland, Whittlesea, and others surrounding the area that had been predominantly Greek for many years. Within those communities, there were enough celebrations to spend the full nine days here. Pheephee and I visited as many of those houses as we could, and I gave them all my blessings. It was almost noon by the time we decided it was time to move on.
For our next stop, I had something special planned for my Pheephee. When she opened her eyes, she was staring at a magical castle in the distance. The wind across the bay carried a myriad of cheers and laughter, stemming from Tokyo Disneyland. She looked at me with wonderment in her eyes and smiled when I nodded. We ran into the park and got lost in the masses of kids of all ages. We stayed until closing time, our little side celebration complete.
Our next stop took us clear across the ocean to Bay Front Park, overlooking the San Francisco Bay. Just a few blocks away, we found an apartment complex with an elderly couple grilling outside by the clubhouse. Amphitrite nudged me and smiled. The sweet smell of goat cooking over charcoal all too familiar to her on this trip. The old man was Dennis, and his wife was Eleni. After the earthquake of 1906, there was a mass settlement of Greeks that moved to help rebuild. Eleni’s family was one of a handful that had remained in the area. We ate and drank, and they both regaled us with stories of the old Greek Town that used to be in that area. I kissed them both on their wrinkled cheeks and said a bittersweet goodbye for what used to be.
Before we stole away, I sat down and looked at Amphitrite shyly. “You know, there is a purpose to our next stop that I have not told you yet.”
“Oh? What is that, Nisos?”
“I want you to use your strength for something. Something that might be hard for you to stomach.”
Amphitrite’s jaw clenched in determination, and all she offered were two words. “Show me.”
Her words were still ringing in my ears as the wave washed us away once more, this time to Anse Chastanet Beach, just a few kilometers from Soufriere, St. Lucia. I looked at Pheephee and pointed out to sea. “The sea here and in most of the Caribbean is dying, love. There is a problem with the lionfish in the area. They eat and eat and eat to the point where the seas are emptying. They are poisonous, and they are threatening the population of all the islands with starvation. Is there anything you can do?”
Amphitrite placed a comforting hand on my cheek and exhaled. “The lionfish have become gluttonous?”
“Yes, love. Very much so. They are tipping the balance of reef life from here to Florida.”
Amph nodded and sighed. “I will do what I can, but this will take time and a little research into the cause.”
“I know, and that is why I pointed this out to you. I know you care and will do your best to solve this riddle.”
“I am the Queen of the Seas, if I don’t care for them, no one will.” She replied, an air of command ringing through her voice.
I hugged Amphitrite tight and whispered, “I knew you would.”
We spent the rest of the day dancing with the beautiful masquerade dancers and their wildly colored outfits and masks. In the evening, a few of the girls invited us to a nearby jump-up, where the music and the food were almost as hot as the spiced rum.
The next morning we moved to our penultimate stop. An ancient Roman theater, one of a handful that was still fully operational. We were In Carthage, Tunisia. This ancient part of the city always gave me a slight pang of reminiscence. The theater, the bathhouses, the museum, and the ruins took me back in time. There was a small scattering of families that celebrated Dionysia, hailing from the times of old, but we did not stay to eat and drink when we visited them. Amphitrite looked at me quizzically. But I had other plans.
Right before sunset, I led Amphitrite back toward the bay and to a sea-side restaurant that looked closed. We walked up to the front door, and I knocked twice. A few moments later, an older woman opened with a smile and waved us inside. All the chairs were on the tables, and she led us to the back patio of the building, overlooking the water. There, a linen-clothed table set for two, awaited us.
As soon as we sat down, a young man very much resembling the woman that led us to the table set down a huge serving tray with over a dozen small plates. Each plate had different small servings called mezedes. Cheeses, and fish, and meatballs, salads, shrimp, fresh-baked bread with spreads and toppings, making the combinations endless. We sat, and we ate, and we drank to our heart’s content. Every time a plate emptied, they replaced it with another serving. When I finally waved the server off, we were both leaning back in our chairs, silently enjoying the beautiful view.
“How did you like the food, Pheephee?”
“It was all very yummy, Nisos. Especially the spicy cheese spread. I could eat that all day.”
“So you like the place?”
“Oh, yes! And this view is amazing. I’d love to sit here and watch the sun rise out of the water.”
“You can, you know? Do just that.”
I smiled in the dark as I twirled my index finger, the flickering light reflecting off something metallic. “You sure can. This place is you. Or at least it used to be and will be so once again.”
Amphitrite looked at me, a hint of confusion in her voice. “What exactly do you mean by that?”
I smiled and placed the key on the table in front of her. “This place used to be called Amphitrite, and it was run by someone that should not be running restaurants so beautifully named. I came across it a few months ago, and the reviews were so bad that I bought him out. Now, this Amphitrite belongs to you. Sonia and her son are old friends, both with plenty of knowledge about running successful restaurants. I wanted you to experience it for yourself as it should be operating.”
She looked at me, a smile shining across her face, and I saw tears welling in her eyes. “Nisos, this place is…I thought they had forgotten me. To know that my name at least has survived brings me such joy. Thank you.”
“You are a goddess and a queen, Pheephee. Have been for untold years. You are not forgotten so easily.”
With a slightly choked-up laugh, she stood, walked around the table, and wrapped her arms around me, pulling me into a kiss. Through it I felt the depth of her love, matching that of the ocean. We both laughed and cried and laughed some more. Eventually, I kissed Sonia goodnight, and she locked us in as Amphitrite fell asleep in my arms. Another perfect ending to the celebration.
In the early morning, we prepared for the last stop. The celebration within the celebration. Pheephee and I put our heads together, and we rode the wave once again. When we opened our eyes, we were standing right by Howth Road with Claremont Beach just north of us and the beautiful Howth Castle to the south. In the distance, past North Bull Island, sprawled Dublin, Ireland.
Amphitrite looked up at me with a grin playing on her full lips. “The last day of Dionysia and St Patrick’s day in Ireland. Whatever shall we do?”
“Today is the day we truly let loose, Pheephee. Today we surrender to the frenzy completely.”
I reached into my pocket and pulled out a small silver flask. I murmured into the flask as I opened it, bringing forth the Waters of Kissousa. It is the water from the spring where I was raised and the only way for me to temporarily dampen my natural immunity to the effects of alcohol and other liquids. Otherwise, I could drink the strongest poison or even gasoline out of a gas pump and not be bothered at all. It all can be very dramatic if used as a party trick.
The rest of the day was a green blur. We were lost to drinks, music, and festivities. We danced along the parades, hopped from bar to bar, and we danced until we could barely breathe. The cheers came in waves every time some foolish mortal saw an opportunity to challenge an already drunk person to a drinking contest. I honestly lost count after seventeen. Even my Pheephee got into the action, taking down a few of the locals.
When we finally had our fill of fun, I stole Amphitrite away to Skellig Michael. We made love on the grass not too far from where Luke taught Rey how to control The Force a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. We rolled around and howled in drunken revelry when the moon came out. We danced and pounced on one another as the waves rose to meet the emotional state of their queen. The surge came as it went when we finally lay there on our back, completely spent.
Some moments later, when Amphitrite finally caught her breath, she turned her head to me and whispered, “I am going to need a holiday from this Holiday, Nisos. Doing this for nine days in a row is too much.”
Without breaking my gaze toward the stars, I took a deep sigh of contentment and smirked. “And to think they used to hold Dionysia four times a year back in the day.”
Amphitrite leaned up on her elbow, gasping out loud. I had no need to look at her to know that she was blushing yet one more time. “Four times a year! Why, that’s just…” She stopped mid-sentence because she realized I was teasing her purposely. She laid back down on the grass and chuckled.
“Why, that’s just fine by me.”