Driving Myself Crazy In Crete

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Rather than enjoying the rugged beauty of Crete I spent the past week counting the number of shrines beside the roads. It’s a wonder that anyone makes it home safely on this big Greek island where cars pass on undivided highways with inches to spare, motorcyclists don’t wear helmets, and posted speed limits are interpreted by locals as “suggestions” rather than law. Given the number of road-side shrines, clearly many don’t make it home at all. Crete is not a place for worriers like me.


The steep drive from the small mountain village of Argyroupoli to Frangokastello on the southern shore is several kilometers of hairpin turns. There are no guard rails and the two-way road barely accommodates one car, never mind an oncoming one or the many mountain goats with a death wish. (Interestingly there were no shrines on the switchbacks. My hypothesis? People do not die on the road but rather at the point of impact a thousand feet below.)


My husband John was driving and I was on the passenger side, closest to the vertical drop to the Libyan Sea below. As we nosed into the first curve I gasped, “John, John, John” as I saw my life flash before my eyes.  You see, I had a dream a few years ago where I was a passenger in a car driving on a narrow twisty road in an exotic locale —as the car turned into a blind corner there was only darkness. I woke from my dream thinking this was an omen for how I would eventually die.  Was this my moment?


While I ruminate constantly about the most far-fetched disaster-filled scenarios, nothing rattles John. But my unexpected outburst of “John, John, John” signalling him to pay close attention to the road did. He snapped, “That’s not helping,” as he concentrated on deftly navigating the challenging terrain, following up with a pointed admonishment of, “I know what I’m doing.”


John never snaps at me (and God knows I have given him ample opportunity over the past few decades). So when he did, it turned a mirror on my behaviour. I thought of the many other times I micro-manage him where I am not only “not helping” but also implicitly doubting his competence.


And while my micro-managing is not only unfair to him because he is exceptionally competent, it is also taking a toll on me. It’s exhausting work reminding him of things he promised to do (when he hasn’t missed the deadline yet), meddling in his law practice (when he is clearly successful) or telling him to speed up, slow down or pay close attention on the road (when he has only ever received a parking ticket).


Worse, my micro-managing makes me feel like I’m his mother which is a yucky role to play, rather than his wife. And when he snapped at me (even though he apologized later), he sounded like my father rather than my husband (also yucky).  But I got a taste of my own medicine, and while it was a bitter pill to swallow I know it was good for me.

Photo credit: Jake Norris – Crete

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