My last post was written the day that my husband left and I was feeling proud of my confidence in being the only caregiver for my daughter for the 2 weeks that he would be gone. Now it's the final day... he returns tomorrow and I can't wait to see him and feel our complete household. It has been difficult and there have been moments when I thought I just wanted to go lay down in the dark and cool bedroom and have silence. There were also moments when I finally did have time to myself but I was so exhausted (and it was so humid) that I wouldn't dance like I had planned to. Instead I would watch Project Runway or some sort of competitive reality show like that. Sometimes I would work on my most recent costume, an assuit ensemble, bra and belt that I'm struggling a little bit with but still proud of. I think part of my frustration is that I am used to sewing something with a show in mind, or even the faintest feeling that it will grace a stage soon... but this one is bitter-sweet. It's definitely in the Tribal-Fusion genre and that isn't even a step towards what I would need to perform in Istanbul. From what I can tell, it's a very cabaret, push-up, sparkle glam fest. I'm not saying I wouldn't like a costume like that, technically I need one anyhow, but they are not what I create. So, as I sew, I can't but look at this costume and wonder, when will I actually use this?
Though I didn't practice as much as I hoped to, when I did my daughter was much better about it and we ended up making a little tradition of having a total crazy dance party together. She is making up such cool new moves, very balletic and powerful. She tries to move her hips and roll her belly and I feel a rush of happiness and smile so big. We really have created a sweet and talented little individual.
On the family side of my life, it's been a painful time. My husband's dear uncle was suffering from lung cancer and he passed away a few days ago. He was an incredible man with an absolutely brilliant wit and I look back and can only find fun memories with him, full of laughter and storytelling. So much of me wishes we weren't so far away so that we could have seen him and also to be there with the family, especially for his beautiful daughters. I just want to hug them and be there for them to talk to. It also makes me feel lonely, all the way over here. Moments like this make you want that close family connection.
It also inspires me to try and be closer with my own father, possibly even live closer to him... I think I wouldn't mind living a little more west from here. I haven't lived close to him since I was eight years old and I think it could be very healing for us. I haven't been having the best time here and now with the government and military involvement in fighting ISIL, I am actually nervous and slightly frightened. They have already threatened to attack Istanbul and while I hope that they are stopped as soon as possible, they have been so strong and spreading rapidly. I can't help but feel like we should either move or at least have an emergency back up plan for if things get dangerous here, especially for Americans.
Just writing that paragraph above makes me feel so many things. Irresponsible, for one. A little stuck. Also like we've moved so many times that I seriously begin to wonder if we secretly enjoy it or something. Sometimes when we talk about it we say that we've had horrible luck, but that's only some of the scenarios. There's been a handful of times that we moved just because we wanted to or it was the logical thing to do. When we moved from Berkeley to Santa Cruz when I was pregnant that was to be closer to family and also so that my husband could work and we could have our own place... the bad luck was moving into an apartment where the upstairs neighbor was a prostitute (the landlord told us she was a massage therapist) who had clients coming by our place every day. That's just one of the examples of how we moved with good intentions but did have bad luck in the end.
Being human, I suffer from the insecurities that bloom from pride. I want my decisions to lead to successful outcomes, and when they don't, my pride gets bruised or embarrassed. That sense of being seen as someone who can't make life really work.
I know that it's not all about where one is... it's because mostly about determination and confidence. But here, in Istanbul, I feel my instincts kicking in. When it comes to dance I am unsure about my desire to perform, both because my style isn't very cabaret and the way that Turkish men tend to behave makes me speculate how that would affect me if I were performing. When it comes to work I feel passionless: teaching English is not my goal in life. When it comes to my family and most of all my daughter I feel like this isn't the safest places (or even on the list of safe places) and also may not have that many benefits for her. The education and healthcare seem fairly low when it comes to standards and there isn't much nature.
I do enjoy seeing the way she interacts with a different culture, learning the language, knowing about prayer and seeing the beautiful mosques ("big and grand!" she says). For me, walking around this city can be somewhat meditative. Not being able to understand almost anything that I hear, seeing wonderful little aspects of Turkish culture, the epic old men, the beautiful hijabi-fashionista women, the delicious food. As someone who can't quite handle the level of heat and humidity I have spent many days inside and while I feel like my brain is melting, it also wanders... and really travels into the depths of the situation.
I suppose, as I read the news more and more and keep up with other expats posts about current event, I just can't help but react in a way that is both protective and, apparently, habitual. I begin to look into new cities and countries. I can say that, whether or not we do stay here for a little longer or for a longer term, that this move has taught me so much. Now when I do look at other cities I have so many more specific questions instead of just the general. Now I look at it from all angles: how many parks are there, what are the schools like, how much does it cost to rent an apartment, what is the general wage, what is the attitude towards bellydance and music from different cultures... and the list goes on and on.
I am grateful for this journey, even when I don't like it here, because it has made me mature in ways that only experience can do.
I'm off for now! My wonderful man just returned home and I get to relax, go bake something delicious for him and watch him play with our happy daughter.