Sunday, November 2, 2014

Love Abroad

   To begin, this is not an easy note for me to write, in that it's nature is the result of heartache. I will begin to say that living abroad is an exceptional experience for one to discover who they are. Moving to Istanbul has been one of the most challenging and rewarding things I've had to endure; and it's this statement which brings promise. I've discovered I can survive in an alternate world so far from home, where foreign tongues salute me in the streets, and strange smells wrap me as I walk about. I've experienced living a stereotype, being American in Europe, and with it I've met and underperformed expectations of it. I've met humility as I'm forced to re-evaluate who I am in the world I don't know, when I've spent the entirety of my life discovering what my existence means in an environment I've spent my entirety living in.

   I've shared in conversation and perspective that I hadn't quite understood or would have never guessed upon. My life has shifted and with it the idea of myself. This country has introduced me to people and places and sights and sounds that have never graced me before and I've been overwhelmed, underwhelmed, provoked, insulted, attracted, intrigued, rewarded, and encouraged all the same. While this snake sheds it's skin and discovers a charmed glow from the light reflecting upon these new scales, there is still a piece of this past hooked, that won't break free...

   Most of us have, or will, meet, or have met another who inspires us, builds courage inside of us and treats us in a way that makes the world seem conquerable with their words and their love. Most people will experience one or many others like this who they'll love dearly and who will reciprocate this emotional bravado. These people should be cherished for their time and their passion towards us, they should be regarded as saints sacrificing their reality to step into ours, for without them, we who have gained the world, would know no such thing.

   About eight months ago I began to date a girl, of the most impressive variety. Her lips so perfectly shaped as to suggest a kiss at any time. Her smile, a perfect order of ivory, has and will continue to inspire people for eternity, while her stare is one of those you'd see in a predator of the wild. Her eyes gaze with a confidence that traps the onlooker in a weak state, where fight or flight is dismissed and subtle hypnosis overwhelms the subject. Her cheeks are strong and her nose straight as it frames the soft skin of her symmetrical face. A man could spend an hour describing just the face of the girl but I'll leave the topic with a last remark of noticing her beauty mark, a light change of skin tone, softly placed just above the nostril where it meets with the face and in line with the corner of her eye. Truly, she is a beautiful young woman, and as a fine spirit ages well, so will she.

  Initially, any confident man will want to strike conversation, and those who are clever may even gain her interest, but only those who commit themselves to this beauty will discover her personally. It was I who took this vow and was I who discovered something all the more alluring beyond the beautiful gates. Discovering this woman as one would admire a muse, listening to her thoughts, observing her social finesse, and enjoying her confident companionship I've tasted glory and I've grown to become some giant wearing the frame of a man under six foot. The fountains have been flowing and I have drank the holy water to a point of comfortable satiation. Notice the second to last word in the previous sentence, please.

   In a world as ours, as a man like me, and with a path as I've chosen, there are choice times I desire comfort. When I am old I will enjoy comfort, for now, however:  I'll choose challenge and risk, vulnerability and growth. I cannot allow myself to become distracted by dreams when I'm living in reality and I have a long way to go before realizing my goals. I've stayed with this beautiful and enchanting woman for two months of my trip and half committed to the states, half committed to discovering myself here;  I have become a man tied in his own chains. So, taking the risk of losing companionship, a comfortable future, and the scorn of the strongest young woman I've come to know; I have chosen to cut my ties from the states and live my final two months in Istanbul as a young man without attachments, without second guesses, without that nurturing support, and without that comfort.

   As hard as it is to sever this emotional attachment I know that if things are meant to be, the two of us will find ourselves in each others arms (as I hope will happen) again. If time and space decide our paths are best met as friends, then memories will do to serve me pleasure.

Reader's Note- This is not a breakup letter, as the breakup has already occurred through conversation, this is a reflection. The beauty of the one I love is proven in that we have separated in respect and good conversation following the discussion she started a week ago, truly a remarkable woman.

To Bethany,
I love you most dearly and will always admire and respect you. You truly are the red diamond, both rare and magnificent.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Cappadon't Ya Know

    The weekend, oh the weekend. As the Turkish salesman would say, "My friend",  I had a pretty good weekend. Now, focus on that statement for a moment. 'Pretty good' -I say this because the weekend wasn't phenomenal, I didn't have such a blast my pants came off, and I certainly wouldn't have ranked it as exceeded my expectations. However, I will say that it was pretty good. Beginning the long bus ride I was in a salted mood; the result of an earlier introspective temperament; begun with over-waiting a rendezvous of a friend and myself.
    On the bus to Cappadocia, I felt decently after some hours had passed and a bottle and a half of cheap red wine had also. The strategy of over indulgence at the beginning of the bus ride has good logic behind it: it's a 12 hour bus ride and only the purest of souls could sleep that long crammed in a bus full of fifty people without being drunk. So you can assume I'd made my rounds of the bus and also satisfied myself with conversation before taking to sleep in my seat. I awoke to beautiful scenery and the promise of Cappadocia being near.

Side note: Some of Star Wars was filmed in Cappadocia (Tattooine) and the landscape much resembles that of an alien planet. 

    Something travel typically does is give one's self an honest look inward. For me, looking in the spiritual mirror on this trip was poorly timed. I typically have moments of introversion where I cannot for the life of me be social and this being the case on a weekend trip with about fifty international students was terrible timing. Lucky for you: I had a camera and was able to capture some interesting shots that would be typical of an observer and thinker. Other contributions to this mood of mine were the awful weather which bore little sun light and left us very cold (of course I didn't bring a coat); the fact that I only brought one pair of pants (minor upset); and the circumstance that I was having internal conflict over the earlier stated friendship because of their recurring tardiness. This sum of minor instances topped off with a chilly body and shit-wine hangover left me feeling a bit introspective. Enjoy the photos.

 Erasmus Exchange students looking happy as they experience the trip together.
 Alien planet.
 Me trying to look happy.

    This is the famous Uchisar castle where purportedly hundreds of people lived together. The climb to the top was exciting and I scared myself half to death when I attempted a hop onto a sitting ledge to find a hundred foot drop on the other side...I found a different ledge.

Nice view

American friend Kubilay

German friend Mona

    Across from this castle there was a nice little antique shop where I chose pictures over paying for items and the photo of this dog reminded me of my Nana's affection for Cocker Spaniels (although I'm not sure if the dog was of the breed or not) and this I've decided is also the best photo of the trip.

   As we were rushed from destination to destination with calls of "only one hour before you must be back" I remembered why traveling with a large group can be awful. The next day however would be my glass of tonic. The famed Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon ride. Taking off as the sun rises it's touted as a once in a life time experience and really the true reason why I paid a good deal of money to come on this trip. In the nature of the trip though, after waking up at 4:30am to catch a late bus at that was supposed to arrive at 5:30 and finally making it to Universal Balloon and waiting until 7am we discovered the weather was too poor to fly and the government wouldn't give us clearance to go. Yes, we'd get a refund but this REALLY made me sour. I could feel the weather grow colder against my skin.

So after this disappointment I went home to catch two hours of sleep before breakfast and a full day of site seeing and hiking through different valleys with cool names like Rose Valley and Imagination Valley. Also I got this cool cat of Kubilay holding a cat (thumbs way up).

Imagination Valley

This one I imagine to be a man looking over at those twin peaks and thinking, "those look like a pair of..."

 Our friend Omer

My German friend Roland who is typically talkative and in a good mood.
Sometimes I just have to let it go.
An ancient ladder

    After all of this timed hiking my mood was beginning to brighten and the evening would introduce me to Turkish night which entailed Dervish dancers, Turkish folk dancers, Belly dancers, a huge conga line and a woman on a horse indoors. Also, an open bar of wine and Raki. Please forgive the poor cell phone quality photos.

And our last moments spent at this wonderful Valley.

 Gizem flying high
 Gizem, Tarig, Omer, and Areh

 Italian friend Pietro

 Trip leaders and Turkish friends: Asude and Gizem
 Omer and Hannes
 Quiet spanish friend Diana
 Christian church I was allowed to take photos of.

Notice, I had to pay 1 Lira to use the restroom; this is typical in Turkey.

The trip ended up pretty good as I stated. I really recommend anyone to travel to this area and experience all that is offered. Signing out. Take care and thanks for reading.