Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Tuesday report--from a Friday perspective

The Tuesday report: an occasional meditation on the everydays of expatriate life. How many times has someone said to me, “Your life is so exciting, while mine is, well… I’m here in the same place doing the same things I always do.” Yet wherever you and I live, life happens in everydays. We gather food, do laundry, encounter friends and neighbors, find time for a shower, show up for prayer. Why Tuesday? Tuesday strikes me as a nothing-special day--routinely filled with whatevers, the mundane stuff of getting on with life.

I started this post last Friday. And so the days fly by....

I thought about how I might reflect on Tuesday, what I might want to write about, on the day. And on the Tuesday before last, and on the one before that. But now it is Friday. Again. I thought of what I would say back in March, and in April. But now it is Halloween, and tomorrow November begins.

All those small wonders, and those troubling bits, that shoot through every day. We returned to Turkey just three weeks ago after four months in the US.

After time away, normal joys, and the normal headaches, seem bigger. They vibrate in my inner places—mostly to tickle and massage, but sometimes to unnerve my soul. So that I stand in my kitchen all exhilarated by the bitty bits of normal. Things like:

  • Scraping vegetable cuttings and food waste into used shopping bags. Later I will lean out a window to hang the daily offering on my neighbor’s fence post. Not waste, but chicken feed!
  • The constant clucking, scratch, and crow of chickens. I walked outside early today, the sky barely tinged with pink light. All down the hillside cocks celebrated (or did they protest?) the movement from night to day. 
  • Çiğdem calling from her next-door balcony, “Jeri-abla…. Mommy? Where are you?” She passes a message, or an invitation, or asks whether we’ll go into town today.
  • A sunset picnic atop nearby Kyaneai. We sit round the cook-fire with Spa for the Soul guests. Flames cast their shadowy light on the ancient amphitheater and small house-like tombs. The moonless sky is milky with stars. Curt stands watch over grill and fire, and tosses a couple of foot-long centipedes into the coals.
  • Dobby the doggy house-elf at play in the garden. Our most frequent guest, he came home with us on our arrival and will stay yet one more week.
  • Work that begins before dawn and continues into evening dark--the work to make a four-months empty house ready to receive guests, and the work to provide for and accompany the several retreatants who came and went during our first days back:
  • o   I hang load after load of sheets, towels, blankets and clothing on the line to dry,
    o   then gather in the sun-scented pieces,
    o   later to stand hours at the ironing board to steam away wrinkles as I pray over those dear ones that this work of love will serve.
    o   I write menus, rummage through supplies and then through shops. Finally those many trips up and down our 40 steps to the front door with bags full of goodness.
    o   I make yeast dough and bake bread,
    o   while Curt prunes, weeds, and blows debris from terraces,
    o   and pulls garden furniture from nooks and crannies of storage.
    o   We lay tables, pack picnics, wash dishes, and give ourselves over to listen to and pray for those dear ones.
  • Retraining ourselves to make sure toilet paper lands in the bin and never in the toilet where it will so easily clog pipes and septic. It is a semi-annual adjustment of habit. 
  • Sweat. Even when I’m still. Though summer heat is finished, it will be yet another week or so before I go about my work and play in comfort. With age, my over-sensitivity to heat grows extreme. 
  • The casual friendships that define the life of this place. Business is not done without a glass of tea and generous inquires about family and life. We wander through our errands to the accompaniment of invitations to stop, enjoy a coffee, and chat. We greet and are greeted. Hugged, kissed, taken in.
  • Rumor and gossip, especially the tales of the former owner of our house who has been wandering the town drunk and accosting our friends to tell them to tell us that he wants another $50,000 or he will sell our house to someone else. For us and others in this village where modern ways of deed and title are still in the works the concern rumbles in the background of life—now reawakened by this man who says such things to our friends and neighbors but never to us.
  • Turkish. Chatting along barely realizing I’m speaking the language. And all those other times when the words garble and I have no idea what they, or I, just said. When I repeat a sentence three times before I get the grammar right, rewarded by the chuckles of my listener.
  • Lightning bolts illuminating the horizon over the sea; slow-arriving thunder; all while stars glint in the blackness overhead.
  • Camped up high and sleeping when the sky rips open with red-eye explosions of light, the roar and clap of air in the bolt’s wake, and crazy-heavy rain! Where just an hour before all had been cloudless starlight and gentle breeze.
And so much more. All to the accompaniment of that one-foot-in-Turkey, other-foot-still-grounded-in-the-US orchestra. Every time we jet across the world, there is this season where two diverse places inhabit my inner spaces. For a few days both feel tangible. I can hear grand-daughter Lia chasing after Curt. “Dede! Dede!” Round and round through kitchen, living and dining room in Cait and Josh's Kansas City home. All while roosters crow in Çiğdem’s garden and I sweat in Mediterranean heat, my nose full of the abundance of ripening olives and sun-drenched wash from the line.

Love those evening walks!

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