Ah, well. I suppose this is just a time to catch my breath between Turkey and School. It's all so impossibly short. But hey. I am back on my laptop, and the funny thing is that I'm having trouble adjusting back to US keyboards! I keep reaching up to the 1 key to type an apostrophe, and I'm almost nostalgic for all those ı characters now.
Home is a funny place to be now. The last six weeks were full of a lot of food, music and new friends - people I feel incredibly fortunate to have met. I have been conscious in the last few days of just smiling at one memory or another, and having to snap out of it quickly before somebody decides I'm in love or up to no good.
I miss Turkey, and everything is still so fresh in my mind that I can't quite convince myself in the mornings that instead of going to school to see Arzu Hanım and wander Ankara with my friends, I am going to go downstairs, see the granola in production, and leave to babysit my darling five month-old friend from New York , and prepare for school, something I'd completely put off thinking about while in Turkey. It's not that I'm not happy to be home. I am. But when I get on my computer, all I want to do is look at photos from this summer, and all I want to speak to people about is Turkey, in turkish. Part of my head thinks I'm still there, but Im slowly catching on. Today I will eat no simit from street stalls, catch no sweaty buses, and I probably won't even sweat.
After my host family went to America, I moved in with my grandparents. They and my eight-year-old cousin from İstanbul, who was also staying with them, don't speak much English, which was great for me. I caught a dolmuş home in the afternoons instead of the bus, which was a little different and fun for the three days I had to do it, and, despite my host mother's fears that I would be fed to death, it was all great.
Last Friday (I can't believe I was so far away a week ago) we had a party at school, with cake and certificates and many hugs with our teachers and waiter and a lot of photos. The previous day we'd given Arzu Hanım a present - a lovely vase, flowers and a framed picture of the class and her, from my camera, and everything was pretty fantastic.
Actually, though, it was what happend after school on Friday that made the day a little special. I walked a different route to Kızılay with two classmates, and we found ourselves looking at the magnificent Kocatepe Mosque, perhaps Ankara's only beautiful building. A man came up to us on the street and somehow we ended up following him inside this mosque, which was perhaps even as stunning as the Aya Sofia and Sultan Ahmet ones in İstanbul. We left our shoes at the door and I and my friend - the other was (and still is, I suppose) a boy - were brought headscarves, and god. That place was beautiful in a way that made me understand religion a little bit. If there was a faith centred on building places like that, I would be a crazed believer.
We are Americans. This means that every experience, every day, no matter how authentic, fascinating or ethnically correct, must include Starbucks. We walked to the one on Kızılay. It was there that this gorgeous baby girl who was just learning to walk stumbled up to us and started to play with me. Maybe I was still high on that mosque, but she made me so happy just by putting her snacks in my lap and letting me feed them to her, and after a few minutes, her mother called me 'abla'. Big sister. Lovely.
(I'm making it sound as if I really adore babies, aren't I? Actually, I don't... they're here, and I'm here, and we get along all right, but don't pull my hair too hard or it's back to Mama.)
It was there that the goodness stopped, though. I walked from Starbucks with a friend to his apartment to pick up his power adaptor so that I could charge my camera before going to İstanbul the next day, and on my way back to catch the dolmuş I saw a kid get hit by a car.
Turks drive like maniacs, and I heard a scream on the other side of the street and saw this little girl - she must have been about six - on the asphalt with the wheel of a taxi almost on top of her. A huge crowd gathered as her mother grabbed her and dragged her to the pavement. They were both screaming, which was a relief - at least the poor thing was alive. I didn't realize until later that i understood what her mother was screaming at the taxi driver, as I watched people check this child over, pour water on her, pull out their mobile phones to call an ambulance. I was thoroughly shocked, but there were at least fifty people there and I couldn't be of any help. I carried on getting home, but was really shaky the rest of the afternoon.
That night, or the next morning really, at 1:30 am, we all met up at the bus station to catch our otobus to İstanbul. I said goodbye to my grandparents and got on, and we all drifted in and out of consciousness for seven hours. Then we got to İstanbul and I wished I'd slept solidly, because what followed was a half hour of lugging overpacked bags through that crazy city, which, at eight in the morning, was just beginning to spill its hungover soul back into the streets and start to party again.
What followed was a day of sickness, reunitation with the İstanbul NSLI-Y crowd (we were a lucky group - they fought the whole six weeks and there was some t e n s i o n), more Starbucks, a gorgeous nighttime boat tour of the Bosphorus, and crazed hanging out in hotel rooms until five in the morning.
I was not destined to sleep the next day, either, for flights are delayed and shit happens. And the strangest thing happened after we had 'de-planed'. What a word. Anyway, a turkish woman heard me talking to one of the other AFSers about my school, and she interrupted to say she knew it! Turned out, she was a professor at the Florida Institute of Technology and had a student who went to MSSM a few years ago! The world just keeps getting smaller...
Anyway, I'm home now and have far too much to do. I have to go now, so I'll put a thousand pictures on this post later.
Oh, and isn't this just the Summer of Gay Rights? Argentina, Mexico, now California again? Keep it coming!