Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Tuesday report--and how we got there and what happened next....

Already it is Saturday and this has been rattling round my head. I stood earlier to pray as the mosque singer called. And marveled that we get to live in this place in this season of life. Late fall means perfect days with all windows flung open, the lightest of breezes, and a flat-calm sea below. As I savored the quiet this morning something moved in the corner of my vision and I turned to meet the eyes of a stray cat passing through the living room with wary eyes fixed on me. Deservedly wary as I hissed him out. Olives ripen, though this is their off year in the two year cycle. For which I am daily grateful. The bumper harvest lasted for months last year and my back bore long witness to the daily bending and reaching to gather from our 14 trees. Sure enjoyed sharing the oil we made though.

This Tuesday found us far to the northwest of Kaş in Turkey's capital Ankara. We were there to visit Özer's family before their move this week to Kayseri. Özer is the man who oversaw the renovation of Spa for the Soul and became a dear friend in the process. 
Özer and Özlem

We rose early, dressed and packed, and said our goodbyes before climbing into our packed-with-city-shopping car. Rich with afterglow of days of sharing life together. The evening before extended family had gathered to watch our just-purchased Turkish language Lord of the Rings. Four of the flats in their building are occupied by family--Mom and Dad, and the families of three brothers. From six to seventy-five years old. The men all worked on our project and we have been lovingly taken in by the whole group. Monday evening we gathered on the covered terrace. Some sat in chairs. Others, including Curt and me, sat on cushions and leaned against the wall. Plates of roasted chestnuts hot from the woodstove, fruit, and sweet glasses of Turkish tea. As much chat and gentle laughter as movie watching. Some teasing over my efforts in Turkish. We hadn't been with these dear ones for almost two years. The everyday community of three generations who have made their way living separate-but-together. There we were tucked in the corner savoring the beauty of it, warmed by our inclusion. 

We were across the city to Josh and Sarah's home before 8am to share breakfast with their family. Though American, Josh grew up in Turkey and Sarah came to live here in her early 20's. Both are fluent in Turkish and a wealth of help and information. Since we first met them, Sarah has born two delightful children who played and chattered through our visit as we adults talked politics, shared about our lives and good books and people we care about and things we are working on. So rich. Josh's mind for detail, Sarah's wise and gentle mothering, and the loving hospitality and servant hearts that ooze from both of them. A prayer together and by 10:30 we were off for a quick stop at IKEA and then the nine hour drive home.
Curt and Alı Ulaş play chess in a shopping mall

I'm not sure what happens when we who live in a village get into big shopping places in cities, but the quick stop for a few candles turned into a four hour wander that included an electronics store and coffee at Starbucks and more bags to load into our already packed car. We finally were on the road a bit before 3pm. 

The route home was through high dry hills golden in the late afternoon sun. We plugged in a thumb drive of music by Turkish believers that Josh had loaded for us. The deep peace of a road trip. Non-stop beyond necessary toilet breaks and a fast-food meal. At 9:30 we stopped at a solitary gas station out of Elmalı. Not far from home in distance, but two hours of torturous downhill winding on an empty back-road still lay ahead. Five minutes and we were back in the car. Which did absolutely nothing when Curt turned the key. Hmmm...long day, late night, loaded with purchases, middle of nowhere. Time to roll with the punches.

We don't own a car in Turkey. Since we are not here peak season, we are able to rent from local friends who are happy to see income from a few of their hundred or so cars during the quieter months. For less that it would cost us to own we drive late model cars, and we don't have to worry about maintenance and insurance and registration and emissions testing and what to do if the car breaks down. So. We called Fahti. 

Meantime the guys at the station had gathered. Pushed the car a good ways to try to pop the clutch and get it running. Without success. Even as Fahti worked to arrange a mechanic. Pushed the car back up the hill into the station lot. Then they jumped the car. Which, to our surprise, worked. We drove off amid exhortations not to stop until we were home. No kidding! By midnight we had unloaded and backed the thing into its stone niche. Where it would remain until 4pm Wednesday when the Renault mechanic required by the warranty made the hour and a half drive from Fethiye and fixed it in ten minutes. 

Home. Wednesday morning a tad before 8am our neighbor phoned. We'd neglected to tell Çığdem we were going to Ankara, and she wanted to know where we'd been and when we got back. Sensing she was hurt to be left out of the loop, I visited her for coffee. Later. After I was awake. Don't speak much Turkish when the phone drags me out of deep sleep. I'd brought her a gift, a pretty throw from IKEA, and greetings from Özer's family, which was the needed balm. We laughed over her eight new baby chicks and chatted about our adventures. 

I've had my own little hurts of neglect over the past couple of days, from people I know don't mean to leave me feeling unnecessary. Reminders again that I don't always even know what is rude and what is normal in this place--whether on the giving or the receiving end. And so I lean once more into equanimity, that grace that can carry us sweetly through late night breakdowns, the vagaries of life in community, the dark unknowing of opening homes and lives to those of another language and culture, and pain of unintended slights. 
The area around Ankara's ancient citadel is the best "junk" shopping ever. Fascinating sellers, bargains and surprises.

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