Prosecards from the Edge (of a Continent)

A running commentary on my life in Izmir, Turkey...and other thoughts.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tales from the Road - Lycia, Day 3 (Wednesday)

Long, late sleep. Breakfast and back to bed again, face down under the cool air conditioning, hugging a pillow and mentally running through scenarios of what may be happening with M. as I lie there...imagining him anchoring the boat, gathering his belongings, leaving tall, silent, proud. Wondering how he will return to Fethiye from Kas, whether he will be able to collect his pay or whether that, too, will be forfeit now... imagining his sadness and shame at losing work, work which he prides himself on doing well, and at having had to put me off the boat. Wishing I could do something except lie here uselessly in this hotel room.

When I emerge finally in late afternoon, it is sweltering. The humidity is inescapable, the moment you step outside drops of sweat gather on the skin. I head to Damlatas beach, a place I remember liking for its tiny little stones that massage your feet and back, and go for a swim. Even the sea, despite its inviting turquoise color, is tepid and does not refresh. I emerge uncooled, thinking longingly of my hotel room and the air conditioner. Still, I am here in Alanya, there is a wonderful castle on the hill, and there is nostalgia to be indulged...

The run up to the castle is brutal, even if you happen to be in good shape and it doesn't happen to be high summer. Once upon a time L. and I made the run, and by now time has blurred that memory so that I don't recall if we actually ran the whole thing or not. Nonetheless, I remember summiting triumphantly, drenched in sweat and surveying the town and the beaches below like our own personal fiefdom.

I barely make it 400 meters up the initial dauntingly steep slope before slowing to a walk. Clearly my physical condition has deteriorated since my last attempt...

Through a combination of walking, jogging, shuffling, and stopping and puffing, I make the gates of the castle just five minutes after closing time. The guard is impervious to my pleas; no, I may not go in for five minutes just to see the view. The sun is about to set behind the castle; I can't see it from where I am, but know that just now the view would be magnificent. Turning away from the guard, I grumble inwardly, Turkey isn't what it used to be. But disappointment turns to delight -- I discover a rambling path down through olive groves and small meadows, winding down and around the old castle wall, eventually far enough around that I can watch the sun in its magnificent trajectory into the Mediterranean. I have not come this way before...there are tranquil walking paths, an unexpected mosque hidden in a copse of trees, some small village houses with people lounging in the shade of their terraces. The path takes me down, down, down, finally back to asphalt and the final descent to the town and the beach.

Stripping off t-shirt, running shoes and watch, I dive into the sea in my shorts and running top. It is beautiful to float there in the gentle surf as the last brilliant orange rays of setting sun dance on the water and the sky beyond turns to gold and rose. I wish I could stay here, bobbing on the sea like driftwood...wish for the umpteenth time that I could escape the conflict and hard choices in my life, wanting out from under this burden of sorrow that has been weighing me down for the last year, no, longer than that...

Was I asleep, living in denial, lying to myself all those years L. and I were together? It was great, nonstop fun, except for the wildly dramatic and sorrowful parts, which I suppose carried their own sort of excitement. It continued to be fun for so long, it amazed me that we were able to continue it that way. It was only when the topic of marriage was broached that things went awry...I suddenly realized that for whatever reason, I could not see him as my husband. I analyzed this feeling from every angle, alternating between blaming our past, blaming his character, blaming myself and my own neuroses. Finally, exhausted with analysis and no closer to a conclusion, I brought it down to this: the fact that that feeling, that gut reaction, is there, is enough. Perhaps I will never be able to pinpoint its origin. And so, hoping beyond hope that I wasn't doing something I would regret for a lifetime, I separated from him. It was agonizing, brutalizing. To my discredit, I clung to M., the captain I had met that summer, as a lifeline of tranquility and stability. I just needed someone to talk to, I said; didn't see myself falling in love or doing anything more than talking and sharing. Somehow through our shared conversations, the revelation of his own struggles with depression and search for God and meaning in life, my soul found someone it recognized. We continued our relationship, deeper feelings developed, but running parallel to those were dangerous currents of guilt and loss. I was drowning in them when I stayed at home, escaping them only when with M. But it was putting a Band-Aid on an unsterilized wound, and that had begun to fester...relations with M. got terse, especially when he came to visit me in Izmir. Poor soul, not knowing what he had landed in, found himself being lashed out at, all because he was not someone else. I wanted him to stay and I wanted him to go...depression deepened; I was no closer to clarity. Which is why I had made the trip down this way this time: to close things up, to simplify my life, to let some of that guilt and sorrow float away on the tide. But Fate has an interesting sense of humor -- the conversations I planned to have with M. never happened, the emotional distance from him I had cultivated before coming to see him, the distance that was going to help me with that difficult conversation, vanished in the course of the dramatic events on the boat. And I found myself caring all over again, and back in that river of opposing currents, flailing.

I return to the hotel, dripping. Fatih, a handsome man my age in faded jeans and salmon-colored t-shirt, greets me. I like him immediately for his calm demeanor, the depth and intelligence in his eyes. We end up having dinner together, or rather I have dinner while he makes marks on the map I've brought to show places I should go. He offers to take me on a night tour of Alanya. I agree, and we get in his car and go, stopping at a bakkal along the way for beers. There is talk of place of origins and what life is like there, his early marriage in his hometown, and subsequent move to Alanya, glimpse of the 'wider world' and conclusion that he married too young. I talk of my own struggles; there is a point of common ground there, where we both feel stranded in the lives we've made for ourselves. We park at the top of a hill with a spectacular view of all of Alanya, sip beers and listen to the radio. It is nice being here with someone different, and I maybe even briefly manage to forget about M. and L. and all of that...

He drops me at the hotel. It is late; I can't stop yawning. Turning on the air conditioner, I strip off everything and sprawl under it on the large, white, and reassuringly foreign -- disassociated from all memory or emotion -- king-sized bed.


At 8:18 PM, Blogger 日月神教-向左使 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


Post a Comment

<< Home