Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tuesday, February 17, 2009 - 2 comments

Planes, trains and automobiles. And a ferry or two.

When I am old and have lived through many a decade, I will say things like, “In my day.....” (Fill in the blank – “....we walked to school in five feet of snow uphill both ways with Kleenex boxes for shoes,” or something to that effect.) And when I am old, my grandkids will be saying, “Wow, Grandma, when you were young, it took you a whole day to get from Canada to Turkey on a plane?!?! That’s so long! Now we can just beam ourselves there.”

A week ago I made that trip, and it struck me that while 22 hours was enough time to get my body halfway around the world, it took the rest of me a little longer to catch up. Planes just fly faster than my heart knows how to switch gears. Monday morning I was sitting in Starbucks playing Speed Scrabble with my mom, in complete denial that in a few hours I’d be gone again for who knows how long. Tuesday morning found me on a layover in London meeting up with a couple of long lost friends, checking out Queen Elizabeth’s place in Windsor and stopping in at The Crooked House for a spot of tea and a scone. And Tuesday night, a taxi whisked me across the Bosporus from the Istanbul’s European side airport to my old Asian side neighbourhood where I had dinner with my Turkish family. So many different worlds in so little time!

As always, it was SO good to be back with my family, whom I adore, and who adore me right back. And every visit to Istanbul only serves to deepen the love affair I have with that glorious city. Even though many of my friends have moved away and many of the places I love have changed, there is still something so comforting about the familiar little normalcies there. Like the ritual of getting into a dolmus (shared taxi) and passing money back and forth between other passengers and the driver, telling him what stop they are getting off at, and feeling like a local cuz I know all the stops by heart. Or the faithful presence of the alarm clock guy on his usual corner in Kadikoy, surrounded by all that annoying beeping. Apparently all his clocks still work. :)

Three days, several buses and ferries, many cups of Turkish tea and happy visits with old friends later, I was on the road again, this time on a 12 hour bus ride home to Antalya. I was grateful for the long chunk of time alone, largely uninterrupted except for potty breaks and cups of coffee brought by the helpful little steward and his trolley. (You gotta love the buses here.) As opposed to my whirlwind trip back from Canada (on-plane-off-plane-rinse-and-repeat-get-luggage-show-passport-guzzle-coffee-foreign-currency-which-time-zone-am-I-in-anyway?) the bus gave me time to think, to switch gears, to really be “all here” in Turkey, and to prepare myself for going home.

And you know what? To my delight, I found that this really does feel like home now. When I first moved here a year and a bit ago, I was so fiercely loyal to my beloved Istanbul that I had a hard time really feeling like Antalya was home. But this time, as I reconnect with people and places and familiar things, I am discovering that, lo and behold, I’ve gotten attached. This is good news! I’ve had a fun couple of days roaming the dirt roads of our village and retracing favourite paths through the old city. My mom asked me today if I’ve suffered any culture shock since coming back, and I could honestly say no. Everything just feels normal and right. (Besides the fact that I am down a roommate/best friend, but that’s another story.)

All the old familiar things look fresh and new and pretty to me – water cuts and long waits for buses have their charm. (Ask me in a week and I probably won’t feel the same, of course!) The best, though, is the “welcome homes” from everyone who acts as if I have been gone a year instead of two months. All my wonderful co-workers, the neighbours, my language helper, my photo guy, my Starbucks girl, my favourite restaurant lady, the stray dog that has taken up residence on our porch. It feels good to be a part of a community, to be a piece in a big interconnected puzzle. Or should I say a thread in a colourful Turkish carpet? In any case, it is good to be home.


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hos geldiniz friend, I'm glad it feels like home :)