The Importance of Feta

I'm in Thessaloniki, iced coffee and feta to my right, blue sea fading into the horizon. The balcony's shaded, Spotify's playing, and my laptop's open so I can research the history of forms.


I've sat through a few meetings to decide the structure of several new features, polished up some content, removed a few bugs from the backlog. I dipped in the water for a quick break before a coworker gave a talk on accessible design. Later, I'll dig into some documentation for the new content design system.


I love my job.


I sort of need to right now. The initial shock of having to leave Kyiv has worn off, but it's still a bruise; if I press on it too long, it's still tender. The littlest things make me homesick: the books I wish I would have grabbed, my wedding dress in the closet, the café where I'd grab lunch with a friend, the roar of the metro that was always several decibels too high. I miss the imperfections just as much.


So I've thrown myself into work and travel, and so far it's working. I switched companies after evacuating, and the change has been good for me: not just because I work with a great team, but because it gives me new challenges to tackle. As for travelling: might as well take advantage of living in the EU.


But the situation back home is still a lens that filters every experience. (I started this post wanting to talk about UX and ended up here. See what I mean?) You know those HBO dramas where a woman struggles with her divorce or identity, complaining about the hardships of her life, while drinking margaritas in her perfectly designed condo? That's how I feel: circumstances too comfortable to deal with this weird form of grief.


I love my job, my travel plans, my husband, my family and friends scattered across the world. And feeling guilty about not suffering like others just brings more guilt, because what a stupid problem to focus on.


I'm glad that remote work doesn't always have to mean work from home, that I have family to figure things out with, that I have time to adjust to the new normal, that I have this space to process everything, even repeatedly, because it's going to be the main focal point of my life for a bit yet. I'm glad that I like my job, that I live in a country that's affordable and welcoming, that I have others who are going through the same thing, that for now my family is safe. And I'm glad that feta and fresh bread exist.


Weird that happiness and grief can exist in the same space.

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