A sense of ‘home’ was something I desperately wanted to give my kids, and thought that in order to do so would mean choosing between our countries. Our kids are Turkish, and as their Mum, I’m welcomed open-armed into their country officially. Three years after marrying G, I was eligible for citizenship, and if I choose not to apply for it, am still fully covered under his national health service payments and retirement plan. Our children will have no questions asked about nationality status when applying for jobs or university, and can enter Turkey on either country’s passport. On the British side, it is impossible for us to live in the country because of the ridiculous spouse visa rules, the kids can only enter on their British passport (their Turkish passport would require a visa) and, if having entered using their British passport, they must have lived in the country for two years pre-16 to be eligible as a Brit for university. By the rights afforded to them, if I were to guess their nationality choice, I’d think they’d say they’re Turkish. But on the other hand, there’s me. Their homeschooling, English speaking “Mummy Abla” who walks around barefoot and is continually flummoxed by the differing etiquette of returning a plate. I always thought that to belong meant to have a home, and that a home was a physical place – how much energy I’ve wasted worrying over that!
Home is the arms you wake into, the eyes you see before you sleep and the memories you make.
It’s the simplest of meals to the secret family recipe, the books you all know by heart and the songs that will always make you dance and sing.
It’s the words soothed by when you feel a little sad, the lips kissed by when you graze your knee.
Home is where you can be you in all your ugly gloriousness, where morning breath and sweaty necks don’t stop loving arms reaching in to hug you tight. Home is the people who remember the dream you dreamt when you can’t recall the details, the cuddle that chased your nightmares into darkness. Home, being home, goes wherever you go.
Iznik’s been good to us, just as Chester was good to us, too, but that doesn’t mean we need to stay here. Turkey is a vast country, and just as Istanbul thrilled me for it’s diverse neighbourhoods and cultures, the country itself does that too. Over the past few years a lot of my emotional response to Turkish life and culture has been negative. When you stay in one place for a while, the way you see the place changes. The quirks and eccentricities that once drew you in become common place, the differences become familiar and it becomes simply, life. And in a country where the culture’s less liberal than your own, that life easily begins to feel stifling and the differences, difficulties.
It’s time to see this country new once again, to revel in it’s quirks and embrace them, it’s time for you to learn to love your country and let your Mum discover it’s secrets right beside you. It feels like adventure, Babycims; maybe it’s time to take this home on the road?