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Kefalari park in daytime is a tiny speck of nature and beauty in the busiest suburb of Athens, Greece. To the North, there is a large hotel. To the East, there is a large hotel. To the West, a vast home, which could very well be a hotel. Finally, to the South, a number of busy restaurants, along with yet another hotel. This urban community of visitors comes and goes, not taking much notice to one of the most beautiful, and culturally important parks in the area. People come and go, not noticing its beauty or thinking about what this park says about the life of the suburban Athenian. Yet this park stays, and lives on.

I have mentioned the beauty, and there is much of it to be found, during the day, within this small one block park. There is a small pond, where birds can usually be found having something to drink, with its own small little bridge. From the pond, there are pathways, which are arranged sporadically, not leading to a specific destination, just creating a more interesting environment. If you look to the right or left of any pathway, you are bound to see someone on the lush green grass. You may see a child playing a game with his father, or a girl laying quietly with a book in her hand. There are also grand trees, which are large enough to block out any view of the surrounding urban area, which would distract so greatly from the natural beauty of the park. Finally, a church, on one side of the park, with a beautiful stain glass window, is one of the most amazing sights, as the weddings, in the late afternoon, are one of the most beautiful things one will get to see in your life.

The culture, and the true nature of the park, however, is shown to us all on the weekends, at night. In the night, we see what life is like for a teenager, a middle class teenager, in Athens. The night starts at eight or nine o’clock; the first of us will enter the park, with a joint in one hand, and a can of beer in the other. The youngest of us are eleven or twelve, the oldest can range to about twenty-five. We will sit on the benches, and talk, laugh, make jokes, do anything we can to get as far away from our lives as we can. There would be guys who knew where to get harder drugs, LSD mostly. If we wanted to be ‘classy,’ we could go to an Arabic restaurant, and smoke a water pipe. If we had made some real money, we would go to one of the cafés or restaurants on the South side of the park, where we would buy drinks for 7 euros, as opposed to us buying bottles of liqueur for a single night. We could do anything in public, no questions asked.

There would be hundreds of kids in that park on a busy Saturday night. We would all be there, groups of friends huddled together, sharing liter bottles of Absolut Vodka and laughing in the faces of the tourists who would question our actions if they ever came into the park. Couples would break off, take a liter bottle of Absolut Vodka to one of the benches, and finish it off while fucking. This is how all the girls I know lost their virginity, even my best friend, my life, my sister.

When I found out that she had fucked Alex on that park bench.
When I found out that he used her like I had used so many girls before.
When I found out, I cried.
I cried when I found out, because he didn’t care about her.
I cried when I found out, because I couldn’t protect her.
I cried when I found out, because I was just the same as him.
I wanted to kill him, and I wanted to kill myself.

Some days, you would see people shooting up in the park. Guys who were from downtown, hardcore drug users. People who lived and breathed for that high, people who needed it to get on with their pathetic excuse for a life. People who most of us, in that park, every night, would become. We would see people in the park shooting up, not too often, but sometimes; and it scared us.

More often, you would see girls telling guys they were ‘bastards.’ More often, you would hear the sound of broken glass. More often, you would smell the smell of fresh blood. More often, you would see somone cutting themselves with a knife. More often, you would hear tears. More often, you feel like you're going to die inside. More often, you don’t feel anything.


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