Monday, November 2, 2015


I’m getting back into the groove of my Istanbul existence, setting up language exchanges with new Turkish friends, running on the treadmill so I can feel that I’m faster than a tortoise, if not a speeding bullet, and buying fresh produce from my local farmers market. I’ve been hoping to someday blend in with the locals, but at the farmers market, walking around with my friend Kelley, I bought a plump pomegranate and asked the man to cut it for me.  I snacked on seeds as we ambled along, plucking these delightful jewels out of their pockets with my crimsoned fingers. Judging by the stares and chuckles, I think the pomegranate is not a customary food to eat while walking around Istanbul. Well, I’m impatient and sometimes pomegranates are just too delicious to save for later.

At the gym, I seemed to have jets on my heels as I ran on the treadmill, and my exertion compensated for my nearly comatose holiday in Crete. On this beautiful Greek island, I think I genuinely did blend in with the locals. Life in Crete clicks along at the same slow pace that flows through my DNA. My friends and I walked around the atmospheric streets of Chania, ate gelato of diverse flavors, went to a salon where we permitted a handsome man named Theo to transform our hair. He gave me bangs, which I didn’t ask for, but his vision seemed to come from divine inspiration, so I didn’t fuss.

At night on the quiet island, I slept blissfully. During the day, my friends and I went to quaint restaurants and I felt so grateful that we all travel so well together. Good travel companions are a Godsend, let me tell you. I am very fortunate. I loved breathing in the fresh salty air and playing with scruffy stray dogs. The Greek people we met were so friendly. One adorable shopkeeper enthusiastically relayed her love of I Love Lucy and The Carol Burnett Show. She was well versed in all the episodes and maybe she thought I would have been more familiar with that generation of American television, but I think I’m too young. When we left the Elia Hotel, the concierge gave my friends and me complimentary bottles of Greek liqueur.

Looking out to sea, I imagined what it might be like to be on one of those small boats trying to escape torture, devastation, and slaughter, but of course I can’t really imagine what that’s like for a Syrian refugee. I have an easy life. The waves were high, and I thought we must keep our hopes for a peaceful future even higher.

Back in Istanbul my friends and I hopped on the metro and I played with an adorable Syrian baby, who also received ample attention from his doting parents. It’s hard to imagine that baby and his sweet parents having to flee their home, like so many desperate people have been forced to do. I don’t know if they were refuges, but Istanbul has many refugees, so it’s quite likely.

My friends and I went home to our good jobs and nice apartments. I’m grateful that I can travel so easily and that I am welcomed most places I go.

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