Coming to Turkey six years ago, a single woman in her early twenties, I learnt the tough way what being independent truly means when alone in a foreign country without the language. Payment of bills, establishing of an internet connection, residence permit bureaucracy in an monolingual government office, even simple survival such as pizza delivery..there was no one to turn to, no one to rely on and no one to blame if it went wrong. And you know what? The sense of achievement biting into a thin crust extra cheese made that single bite better every time. Now when it’s not even my name on the pizza box delivery, the crust is never quite as crisp as it was.
I have only ever answered to the name “Mrs Mxxx” once, and I remember that moment as clear as can be. Given that we’ve been married three years come September, it was quite a note-worthy conversation and not surprisingly, it was in the UK not here. For six months after we married, I continued to work outside the home. Then a culmination of events led to the work being transferred to work-at-home, then simply not work at all just be pregnant. Just be pregnant. That was at least 18months ago now, and since then I’ve been dependent on my husband – not just financially, but for much of the other stuff too. Even minor details of a life, such as grocery shopping, feel momentous when you don’t get to do them alone.
This morning we came to blows my hubby and I, over a hill..yep, that same big ass old hill. He berated my intention to go down this said hill, on the basis that what goes down must come up and the notion of being 30+weeks pregnant pushing ten kilo of baby plus 8kilo of pram up said big ass hill was a stupid one, if ever he’d heard one. It was one of those moments, like the forty-day confinement ‘discussion’ we had, where it just wasn’t worth fighting about. G had a point, it is a risk, and fighting a valid point wouldn’t get anywhere – the end result would still turn out the same: That hill and me are no longer, ’til September, I guess. It wasn’t the hill which narked me – it was the cutting off of even more freedom; not his intention but the result nonetheless and for the first time in a long time I felt dependence like a noose round my neck.
That hill is my lifeline to the sea, to the bus-routes that can take us along it and the best park around for M to play out of doors. There are buses which come up and down it, but they’re minibuses, always jam-packed and the drivers refuse to let us on with the pram. My only option is to jump the ‘bus’ wearing M, stray only to the park and catch the bus up again, but that’s higher risk given the pain in my back. Summer’s coming – is here, perhaps if today’s weather will stay. While the heat of this country is blissful as a tourist day-to-day, it can be stifling with humidity as a toddler or hijabi as the weeks go on. The blessing of living where we do last summer was we weren’t confined by the heat to remain in our home; if we could make it to the sea..down that one fateful hill…we caught the sea breeze and humidity didn’t bother us much. Leaving the other way, we can’t escape from the heat. At the top of the hill the humidity gathers and it’s too sticky to catch breathe. There is a forest we can walk in, though with no toddler-friendly paths, and one park with swing and slide for M to play on if we go early morning. So for the summer, with the hill out-of-bounds, we’ll be out mornings to these two places, on the metro to shopping centres for different scenery, change of pace and that’s it really. Done. The metropolis we live in narrowed sufficiently to be more confining than the small town I left.
As the weeks pass, and the months too, and life narrows like this so does my Turkish, my confidence and the independence I’d established in this foreign new place. There’s no need to speak Turkish except to order water, buy the meat, there’s little interaction of a person-to-person kind and few ways out for this to change now with second baby due so improbably soon, so instead of bemoaning the facts, feeling maudlin inside, I’m looking the other way at dependence, the way of M’s upon me, how he’s dependent on me to ensure every day is fun as he deserves; so, if we can’t go to the water, the water will have to simply come to us…
Who needs the sea, anyway.