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December 2017 – a lover of the road

We have cake. And we’re gonna eat it, too.

Fănel* is filling the white silence in the apartment with his monotonous haaaaaaaa. Then the sound of a fork briskly hitting its metal against a porcelain bowl repeatedly stabs Fănel’s breath from the kitchen. It’s lunchtime, but our morning was lazy and long, so it’s actually breakfast time.

Sitting cross legged on the living room couch, like a Turk beside the rich Christmas tree, I am wearing a black pair of tights and a thin, light blue denim dress – not yet my New Year’s Eve party outfit: a low cut dark raspberry dress and my precious moldavite and peridot silver jewelry set. I’ve already taken a shower and then quickly put on makeup. The makeup is not because of the party we’re throwing, I do that every day to avoid feeling too home bound. The fasteners of my dress undone down to my belly button, my left breast sticking out is being held by this tiny pair of hands,  their thin nails leaving miniature half moons into its skin. He woke us up with his laughter this morning, followed by cooing and fist chewing to announce he wants to be fed.

It’s the last day of such a generous year! I think for the first time ever I am filled only with gratitude as I am going through memories while listening to my baby hungrily swallowing my milk, curled up in my  lap. He’s been with us from the beginning of the year, so we carried him everywhere: the mountains, Amsterdam, Hungary, Greece, Sweden, the Bulgarian seaside. Not in England, though; he came after our journey in England.

I lost three of my closest friends. Three people I loved with all my heart. Three people I shared my life with, no cards close to my chest. Pregnancy had a way of clearing people out of my life. I made new friends and got a husband and a son. I couldn’t have asked for more, really. Although I did get so much more.

This time last year we were flying to Stockholm. I’m remembering the last two years’ dancing parties in Sollentuna, a Stockholm suburb, together with my cousins and my friends – such a great time. This year we’re partying wildly, the three of us, in our home.

“You’ve grown so much, Dana, you’re now raising others”, I remember a friend telling me on the phone a few days after I gave birth.

All I really have to say after this amazing year is just: “Thank you.”

*I decided to name household appliances and make them feel  part of the family, and Fănel, the dehumidifier, is our latest adoption.

 

Run, Forrest, run!

baby

A teenage boy wearing thick glasses, no jacket over a thin white blouse and flip flops over his grey socks is feeding bread from a plastic bag to the seagulls on the river bank. He tears big pieces of the soft loaf and throws them in the air, pausing from time to time to take hungry bites himself.  When both the boy and the birds finish their lunch together, he folds the plastic bag and hides it in his fist before shoving it in his trousers pocket and crossing the street, disappearing among the old houses on the other side of the road. My baby is sound asleep against my chest, tucked in the elastic wrap and I can feel his warm breath against my skin. I stop in my walk to watch the scene. I know it’s one of those moments that are going to turn into lasting memories and stick with me for a long while.

Just like my midwife’s coffee scented breath in the wee hours of the morning as she’s blowing softly on my face during labor, while I’m feeling my baby’s head with my fingertips before he finally comes out later.

Or his heart pounding like a racing horse’s under that pink flowered tree in the park, as he pulled me closer and closer, giving me long kisses before allowing a short distance between our mouths and resting his eyes on my lips while uttering the question he’d been rehearsing so many times. It was a cool evening after a rainy day this spring and I felt like peeing.

Or seeing that second line on the pink test at 4 am on March 8, sitting on the toilet in his bathroom and trying to live through the next day as if everything hadn’t completely changed forever.

Or his warmth when I cuddled in his arms on our first night together and my chest exploding from the incredible heat as he so full of himself assured me: “Relax, I am here for you.” Back in Harmony street, early December…

Or sitting in my seat on the bus taking me from Konya to Cappadochia, my dark red fingernails matching the fresh bruises on my face, and the whiteness of the skin on my neck reflected in the clean window. November 1, last year.

Or landing in Cambodia in such perfect darkness that night in February last year, my 85 year old Swiss friend sitting beside me, a long saliva string with sparkling beads hanging from the corner of his mouth all the way down to his shirt, while I’m struggling with such a strong combination of anxiousness, curiosity and fear.

Or that rainy evening in March last year, landing in Istanbul to meet a beloved friend on her birthday after a delayed flight. Looking for flowers and cake in the airport and ending up with a huge lolly pop in my hand as I’m walking up to her in that impressive crowd in the Ataturk airport to surprise her from behind. Her smile and her tight hug bringing back old feelings of guilt.

Or coming out of the shower, wrapped up in that white towel, water still dripping from my hair down my bare shoulders, and seeing that silver mist fill up that shabby candle lit hotel room in Istanbul where I stayed for a whole week a month later. “My happy time”, as my Syrian friend called it. “You’re happy, Dana”, he explained, “that’s why you see this fog in the room. It’s called happiness.”

Or crossing that bridge lined with flower pots somewhere in Cluj in the summer of 2015, construction noise filling up the area and dust sticking to the skin on my feet, my sandals getting sweaty on the hot asphalt.

Or a particular evening in August two years ago while carrying stuff on my bike from my former home when I moved in Harmony street and I heard this little girl say: “Look, mom, the lady is going on holiday!” and I felt she was making such an accurate description of my situation in spite of the distance between us.

Or that morning back in my former home, probably in the spring of 2015, folding laundry and sprinkling it with warm, fresh tears on the stretched out couch in the living room where I’d just spent my first night alone, out of the bedroom. “This is so damn hard”, I told him, “Help me”. “Do you want me to help you stay or help you leave?” he asked picking up a T-shirt, tears rolling from his eyes down his cheeks and crossing paths on his chin, making it shiver uncontrollably.

Or that narrow road in Crete about ten years ago, after dinner in that beach tavern where those Greeks suddenly spoke no English at all when they brought us our overcharged bill. The day was losing strength as night was closing in, and so was I losing respect for the man driving next to me.

Or that creepy studio I lived in for a few months when I finished university, with its dirty armchair by the balcony door, where he sat, legs spread, arms resting in his lap, lowered chin and faint voice. That “I don’t love you anymore” that threw me out of my own life like a dog kicked out of a yard when its people are tired of it.

Or that “I love you!” spoken to me as if it were a huge and painful problem, sitting at the desk in my room back in my home town, while I was still in high school. I didn’t know how to answer that, so I closed my eyes and hugged him and just copied a detached attitude I’d seen was successful and repeated what someone else had said to me not long before: “What am I going to do with you?”

And so many others, like a big box with a wide selection of pralines – different sizes, shapes and flavors. I wonder if Forrest Gump had a similar perception when he remembered “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

PS Yeah, that’s me in the photo.