We’re on countdown here to our yearly visit to see family and friends in the UK. This will be M’s first trip abroad, his first flight, and while I’m utterly squirmingly excited at the prospect of him meeting his Uncles and my best friend for the first time, there are hesitational nerves too. There always are – going back to the UK as someone who’s totally utterly changed her life 360 from the norm is tricky in many ways and with at least a year inbetween visits, you never quite know how relationships will have changed in that time. Even though I spent 3 weeks in the UK last year, it didn’t feel like a visit – my Grandad had just passed away, I was five months pregnant and the world seemed a little surreal – so it feels like two years since we were there, really, heightening my anxiety just a little bit more.
I wanted G with us on both flights so while, inshallah, we’ll spend longer periods of time in the UK with M in future, this time round we’re just there for 5 days. In shortening the visit, it’s forced me to prioritize who we see and what we do while there. There’s a great quote I once read about how every person who crosses your path has a purpose and most of those people will remain for a season or two. It’s a rare few who weather the course, year upon year. Living abroad, its easy to extend those seasons and prevent the often inevitable transition from friends to old friends; this year, we only have time for people we miss on a regular basis and whose lives we actively share – at once both a relief and reality check, not always the kindest of things.
While running helps me figure stuff out, positive dwelling if you like, being in the kitchen relaxes me and whenever there’s a trip coming round our fridge is a veritable feast. Cooking takes me away from anxieties and questions of the stay, I’m free to concentrate solely on the rhythmic kneading of dough, the subtle colour changes of spices frying off, of ingredients performing the subtlety of merging, unforced, into one unique dish.
This time of year, the cross-over period between summer and autumn, is the season I love the most. I love the freshness of the air and the colours of the world but I also love the produce too. Markets are the perfect blend of British/Turkish fruit and veg, with figs and peppers for the Turk in us and leeks and damsons for the Brits. Unlike fruit and veg from the supermarket, there’s no sell by date on the food you buy – it’s freshly picked no earlier than the day before and may last til the day after or a week later depending. The easiest thing to do, to prevent waste, preserve the freshness and relish the nutrients, is to cook as soon as you get it home so this week, I gave M a plastic bowl and a whisk to explore the kitchen floor with and switched off my thoughts for a while, allowing the delicate onioney scent of leeks to lull me safe in the world of my life and comfort on a spoon.