Turks are very different from Americans in the sense that they have a completely different perspective of personal space. Turks are always walking into you, no matter how wide the sidewalk. They ask personal questions about the way you look, your weight, and your health. They generally don’t follow traffic rules, so your lane is their lane. And they don’t always seem to understand the concept of wanting to spend time alone. I am constantly being asked whether I am bored being at home all week alone, while my husband is working. Me? Bored at home?! That’s my comfort zone!
Recently, my husband went to visit his brother for 2 days. Their plan was to go snowboarding at Mount Erciyes and just enjoy hanging out together. My husband is technically on break from school. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have to work. The kids are on break – so he had to use vacation days for the visit. This was all fine with me. I had a plan too! It was to enjoy the 2 days with the house all to myself.
That was the plan. It was almost foiled! Hours before my husband was to board the bus, his brother found out that I wasn’t coming. What a big ta-do! My phone rang over and over again. I didn’t answer. I knew what the deal was. Abi (big brother) wanted me to come too. He didn’t want me to be alone. He was doing that Turkish insisting thing again. But I don’t ski or snowboard and I have absolutely no desire to learn. Frankly, it’s a pretty stupid idea for a girl with arthritis in her ankle and knee. (My apologies, Abi.)
On top of that, I had work to do. I have been contracting recently for a U.S. firm, and I know that project is not going to last much longer. So I have to take the work while I can. And it is still fun for me to “play lawyer” every once in a while.
Finally, I was looking forward to having the entire bed to myself. I lived alone for almost 10 years in Philly. When I started living with the hubby, we had rented a big house – which meant separate rooms whenever we wanted them. Then we bought an even bigger house – again having the spare rooms when we needed sleep! After we married, he moved to another state for work, so I had that big ole bed to myself five nights a week. Believe me, the extra space can work wonders when one of you is sick or has to get up for an early morning meeting.
It’s not that I don’t like living with my husband. He’s easy. He keeps me laughing. Helps around the house. Cooks. Et cetera. He’s the best! But the thought of 2 nights with no one telling me to roll over, well, let’s just say it had me feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.
I successfully ducked the brother-in-law but still had to deal with the hubby. He is not as good at refusing calls. He must have asked me to accompany him a million times. His brother even went so far as to tell him flat out not to come until I could come too. Sweet, but my plans were set. And from American standards, when a wife says “Go out and play with your brother,” a man goes. No questions asked. Freedom. Take it while you can!
So, Wednesday evening hubby boarded the bus. Then my phone starts to ring again – my mother-in-law. I hadn’t heard from her in a couple of weeks, save a quick visit to her house to deliver soup when she was ill. I love my mother-in-law, but I was determined to enjoy this time to myself. She called at least 3 or 4 times over two days. I missed the calls and didn’t return them. Oh my, I guess I need to apologize for that too!
After returning from the bus depot, I ventured out to my first “ladies night” with the expat group. Dinner for 18 at Masala, a local Pakistani restaurant. What fun! It was just like old times in Philly, walking to my favorite corner jaunt. We enjoyed a lovely dinner. I met a lot of new faces. And even more fun, most of the women already knew me from this blog!
I spent that night on his side of the bed.
Thursday was a bit more quiet. I had work to do. But that didn’t stop me from popping open a bottle of wine and watching a couple of flicks on the internet. I also had to catch up on season 4 of 24. I’m currently addicted to that show, although I do think it is extremely poorly done. (Particularly that episode of Season 1 where you can see the cameraman on the side.)
Thursday night? I opted for the middle of the bed. Sprawled across it as if there still was not enough room!
Friday afternoon, my English conversation group met at the TAA. This was one of our best gatherings ever for me. Sometimes the class gets distracted in its conversations. So before the class, I was thinking about what I could bring for us to read together. I perused my books of art, poetry and classical literature on my shelves. And then it hit me. It’s black history month in the States. So I jumped on the internet and found Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous speech, I Have a Dream. I printed several copies and headed to class.
We took turns reading paragraphs of the speech. First, I must say that I was completely impressed with the quality of reading by these ladies. They did an awesome job. By the end of the speech, tears were welling up in my eyes. The ladies were truly understanding what they were reading. I could actually hear MLK’s voice as they read. And at the end, one of them looked at me and said, “Thank you. I really liked this.” It was great.
Back at home I had work to do. Plus laundry, dishes, vacuuming, dusting. I managed to watch another flick too. I had time since the hubby wasn’t due in until 10pm. I ordered some food and poured a glass of wine. Mmmm. Life was good.
I checked the clock. 8pm. Decided to bake a cake for the hubby – which I HATE to do – but he loves it. Cooked up a few snacks for him too. Then I was off to the bus depot to collect my stiff and sore yet very happy hubby.
The lesson to be learned here was not for me, but rather for Abi, his mother, and my Turkish friends. It’s a great relationship that can give each other space. Not all people need to be with someone constantly. Being alone is not the same as being lonely. Turkish concern and worry is appreciated. But not necessary. Although I am still American, I’m no longer a foreigner here in Ankara. It is my home. I plan on mixing my American ways with my new Turkish styles. And this week, I found “my space” in Turkey.
Friday night? Delighted to share the covers again!