I haven't written in months. The reasons are plentiful... political changes in Turkey began to take my interest and for a while I was so obsessed with reading, protesting, and discussing that I neglected to write. I did begin a piece this June at the height of the revolution... and I will finish and post that piece later... but before I was able to collect my thoughts and put them into legible format, something interrupted my life. Or I should say... someone. I hesitate to tell this story to friends and strangers alike... but there is a bible verse that says all of our actions and thoughts will be known in the end. That seems assuring to me. That all will be known in its purest truth. I hope I can manage to put some of that down here.
Prior to departing for this beautiful country one year and one month ago, many of my dear friends assured me that this was a move that would change my life. I would certainly meet someone who would sweep me off my feet. I would fall in love and live happily ever after with my soul mate. Given a lifetime of relation ship-wrecks, I responded to all of these suggestions with a roll of the eyes and and some inward reflection typically having to do with the belief that finding love at this stage in my life would be a miraculous event to say the least, and I am afraid I've used up my allotted miracles for this lifetime.
I did date a couple of pleasant enough fellows here. I wrote a bit about both. One was a rather intriguing European character who pined for a home in Texas ( yee hah!.... No.) and the other was an Irish man I met in church who after dating me a few times let me know he was attracted enough to want to sleep with me, but in the end he wanted marriage to a woman of child bearing years. Hmmm... shite...again.. NO. Things weren't looking too promising. The age thing really set me back a few years in self esteem. I spent a few nights with my buddy Prags bemoaning the fact that here we were in the most romantic city in the world... and no one to call our own.
I love the Turkish couples who stroll along the boulevards and seafronts, hand in hand. While public displays of affection are frowned up by his majesty Erdogan and his cronies... the good old Muslim Brotherhood, many young couples do not hesitate to demonstrate their love for one another by holding, kissing, touching and gazing lovingly into one another's eyes. I love this about Istanbul. And I am so jealous. I want to be the one strolling with my lover, sipping raki together on a restaurant terrace, shopping in a bazaar, taking a boat ride on the cool Bosphorous.
At the end of last school year, a group of us hired a boat for an end of year party on the strait. It was a beautiful day, full of fun and laughter. We blasted music, shared summer plans, and a few jumped into the water as a rite of passage. It was terrific fun, and most of us were just getting going when the boat pulled into shore around six. Gezi Park was free of police and the people had taken over Taksim. The word was that night things would get loud. A few of us made plans to change our clothes and head there. It was wild in Taksim. The collective energy was powerful with people chanting and hopping to the beat of drums and calls for Erdogan's resignation. Impromptu street vendors were everywhere... selling beers and doner and whatever else you might want. I stayed with my friends for a while, but they all continued to drink and I could tell it was going to be one of those nights if I stayed with them. If I walked quickly I could get to Sisle and catch the last bus home. I passed a little girl begging in the middle of the chaos and snapped a picture of her... knowing some parent hovered nearby to make sure she stayed on the "job" and to grab the money she collected. I hate this part of Istanbul.
I kept walking, past Gezi and the aromas, away from the noisy action while streams of people headed the opposite direction to join the gathering of the temporarily victorious. Somewhere near Osmanbay, a voice asked me if I knew what time it was... I responded that I didn't speak Turkish and this guy started talking to me in English. I normally don't have anything to do with strangers on the streets in Istanbul, but something about his energy told me he was safe. I declined his invitation to tea, explaining that I had to get to my bus.
He asked me if he could walk with me and I told him if he could keep up with me, fine. If I missed that last bus, a taxi ride would be next to impossible or at the least extremely expensive. I stopped to take some money out of the ATM just in case...and he turned away from me and stood on the curb with his back to me. I sort of felt like he was standing guard, but he later told me that he had decided to give me a chance to walk away, and if I left without him, then he would go back to Taksim. As I write this, I wish for both our sake's I had walked away.
If you haven't guessed by now, this is the beginning of a short love story. Some of it quite sweet. We always remember the good parts better, don't we? This handsome Turk (by then I had the chance to study him in the light) asked for my number as he stood with me waiting for the DT2 to rumble up. I almost always save myself the hassle of declining to share my number by just giving a man I don't want to see again the wrong digits. For some reason... by the time I climbed aboard the bus, he had my number in his phone, had double checked with the driver to make sure I was on the right bus, and had blown me a small quick kiss as I pulled away into the night. It didn't take long for the first text. I wish I had saved that one.
Someone once said ... life is a series of choices. One choice made after the other leads us in certain directions. As I sign off part 1 of this running story... I tell you that I started writing again because of pain. Deep, sobbing in the night pain. Today I spent the first part of my day in the hospital... reeling from hurt ... both physical and emotional. My immune system was no longer able to hold at bay the toxins attacking my system. I was dehydrated, and in trouble. The kind doctor put me on an IV, and started some lab work. I am home now with my medicine and my pajamas. Ordered to bed rest for 2 days. I will get better. My body will heal, the pain will become less with the passage of time... but I can speed the healing by spilling it out onto the page. A cautionary tale perhaps... and yet...now with no tears left to cry, I can say, it really is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all. The call to prayer sings out into the night. I have many things to pray about this evening.