Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Two homes

For four years now we have lived between two homes. One is Spa for the Soul in Turkey, perched on a hillside overlooking the Mediterranean. We live here two-thirds of the year, our doors open to guests seeking sheltered quiet space. One is on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. A Pacific-northwest house in our home country, it is repository for the treasures of our 40 years married.  

Two-home, two-country, two-continent, two-language living. Never saw that coming, but here we are.

Just at dark on a Wednesday three weeks ago we returned to our Turkish place after five months in the US. Stopped at the gate, pulled luggage and groceries out of the car, and then Curt drove to the end of the narrow dirt road to turn the car around and back it into our tiny parking slip. Çiğdem and Orkun leaned over their balcony and called greetings. Forty-two stone steps to the front door. Keys long unused inserted into the lock. Voila! Home. With me thinking, as I climbed those stairs and shone the long-unused key-ring flashlight on the dark key-hole, “This should feel more strange.”
Good morning from Spa for the Soul!

When we started this two-world living every transition found me wandering whichever house a bit lost, a bit enchanted to rediscover what had become unfamiliar. Not anymore. That evening three weeks ago I walked in, put away the groceries, and slipped into a space that settled around me like a soft fleece throw. Simply here.

Skye and Lia were here five months ago. They left only two days before we did. Their toys were still in the living room, tidy in their basket, train set and blocks stacked in their containers against the wall. Tidied, but not yet taken to their storage place under the stairs. As if the grandkids just left. Never mind that tiny baby Skye, who we'd left in Kansas City just three days before this night, is now mobile, waves at me, and eats everything in sight. Never mind that Lia is out of diapers, and intensely involved with being three.

On the kitchen counter rested three upside-down storage jars I’d emptied and washed—was that…when? Lia’s bed was still made with the pink and purple sheets, and in the next room the bed was draped with the big tablecloth laundered and laid there to keep it from wrinkling...on the 1st of June. In our bathroom, I reached for the the half-used tube of toothpaste, and grabbed my hairbrush from the drawer for some post-journey refreshment.

Yes, there were markers of vacancy, and some work of reclaiming. My desk was way too clear, bits and pieces stuffed into drawers to protect them from five months of dust. Same with countertops in kitchen and bath. The frig was full of candles. I love candles so much that thirty or so pillars perch here and there all over the house: tall, not so tall, and downright stubby, mantled with graceful folds of melted wax. If I left them out over summer they would be warped and bulging from the heat of a shut-up house where outdoor temperatures reached 120 degrees from time to time.

Yes, the work of unpacking, of restocking food, of hauling out garden furniture and all those candles lay before us. Yes, the garden is overgrown and olives are ripe for harvest. Drawers would be pawed through, stale staples pitched, forgotten quantities recalled. Catch-up. And not just with the stuff, but also with people.

But that night we took ease under that fleecy softness called home. We turned on the TV, settled back into the cushions of the old red leather couch, lit a candle or two, and knew ourselves home.

I can't post this without shouting gratitude for helper Ayşe, who came before us to dust and mop, pull down cobwebs, wash some 50 windows inside and out, and scrub down six bathrooms. She emptied every shelf, cupboard and drawer in the kitchen and bathrooms to clean out the webs and tiny carcasses of bugs who'd been fruitful and multiplied over the exceptionally hot season. This year she labored four days to prepare for our return. Without her, well, I sure wouldn't be writing this!


Susan said...

There's no place like home... both of them. Your writing is such that I can picture you puttering around as your settle in. Enjoy.

Unknown said...

Love this, Jeri. It is very gentle.

Jeri Bidinger said...

Thanks to both of you, Susan and "unknown." You encourage me. Maybe "unknown" could let me know who you are? Smile....