Tripoli is a city 7km away from my father’s village. My first memories of this considered unremarkable city in Greece was my six year old self begging my parents to take me to the plateia to rent a bike and bike circles at night with other kids. Maybe subconsciously from those moments I have come to love Tripoli the best when the coffee shops have closed, local businesses are tucked in for the the night and only a few cars roll past you as you walk the steets way past midnight. Tripoli transforms inky black nights, the darkest hours, into some paradise. This might be because in the daytime, Tripoli exposes all that you are not. People hide beneath a facade of supposed money, coffee, and small talk. At night, this facade isn’t needed.
I made a habit of walking alone at night and even though I grew up in Chicago, and have been wandering abroad for a couple years now , there was a tension in the air like a reprimand that scolds “you shouldn’t be out at night, especially a girl like you”. This “dangerous” quality to my nightly walks served to awaken my rebellious teenage heart, feeding my want to be anything or anyone here in the dark. In some ways, the night stole away the daylights harsh critique and washed away the roles. It’s was intoxicating.
This is why I love the graffiti of Greece. This is the art of the night souls, the ones that hide in the daylight and can only be true when the eyes of society have gone to sleep. A game I like to play consists of imagining the artists behind the spray can. I imagine the “smoke weed” artist is a 19 year old boy stuck between his parents’ expectation of becoming a computer engineer and pursuing his dream of becoming a Greek rapper. The “we walk alone at night to have sex” a 22 year old girl who can’t tell her boyfriend that they aren’t compatible in bed anymore and secretly awaits a more passionate affair.
I’ve imagined tired forty year olds to beautiful Albanians writing their hearts and tears on the blocks of Tripoli. I guess I am a bit of a romantic, dreaming of all the artists and hoping that one day, the truths of the night find space in the daylight. In retrospect, I too wish I had taken a spray can and drawn out my existence that I too need the night to belong.