Tuesday, 3 July 2012

non-specific radiant joy on a windy istanbul morning

i step out the door of my apartment and am instantly filled with joy.  walking past Murat, the corner store owner we share "Gun aydin"s, good morning.  clothes hung on lines flap wildly in the wind that sails up from the Golden Horn: the arms of a red shirt fly about like a crazy Black Sea dancer; a purple skirt twirls.
i turn the corner and begin the ascent up the steep street; marvel at the little ground floor flats with their potted trees outside their street-level windows re-creating their village gardens, classic turkish music pours out of the open doors.
at the first intersection i spot Bunyamin, a good friend of the friends i first used to hang out with at badehane.  he sees me and walks toward me arms outspread.  he takes me in his arms in an embrace, kissing each of my cheeks.  we smile at each other and share greetings.  "Iyi misin," I ask.  are you good? he replies with the classic turkish saying, "Now that I see you, I am good."
i continue uphill and pass the "cat man."  he cares for many street cats.  always he can be seen sitting on the concrete step with a different cat in his lap, others lazing beside him drowsy in the summer sun.  today he greets me and tells me how one new baby is "hasta," sick, and indicates it's eyes.  "I make herbal tea and put.  It will be ok soon."  I nod and call him the "Kedi Melek," the cat angel.  He smiles and I go on my way.
and for no particular reason, i am filled with unutterable joy. maybe it's the warmth of the turks.   growing up in a silent house with the "Ice Queen" for a mother, the warmth and physicality of the Turks is a healing balm.  and today the world is all color and music, smiling neighbors and loving hugs.