Sundays are always the same, despite the fact that 38 people were killed in explosions, audible from my apartment, the night before. [An obscure group called the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons has taken credit for the carnage.] This morning, I woke up at 7:30, made a pot of coffee, turned on Camera Obscura (for this moment in my life, Camera Obscura offers the right dreamy allure to get my creative momentum in full swing and help me focus on my work), and then I drew all morning until my friend Kelley invited me to lunch. She told me that when she heard the explosions, she thought they were thunder. Maybe because I am from Oregon, where it rains all the time, I knew it couldn’t have been thunder. Thunder makes a cracking noise, and these explosions left a resounding rumble. After the eruptions, one right after the other, my neighborhood quieted down, as if everyone outside had looked up at the sky, hoping to see lightning, hoping to feel just one rain drop that might convince them the noise was just thunder, but deep down knowing exactly what it was.
Later that afternoon I filmed a protest from my window. Crowds of people marched down the street and chanted, decrying the attacks on police, I assume. People in Turkey are pitted against each other, and in my experience, some will cast a suspicious eye if they think my views do not align 100% with theirs. Recently, the chief adviser to President Erdogan claimed foreign chefs on Turkish cooking shows were spies. I figure it’s just a matter of time before foreign teachers face the same accusations. People are so quick to point fingers these days, it wouldn’t surprise me. Last week I ate lunch with some Turkish friends and another American who stated that Selahattin Demirtaş, the co-leader of the HDP Kurdish party, was being tortured in jail. The response from our Turkish friends was basically, “Let him be tortured. He’s a traitor.”
It makes me sad to hear anybody condone torture, which is partly why my night on Friday wasn’t as festive as the traditional Turkish dancing, Middle Eastern music, and tambourine playing may have suggested. The only communal synchronized dance I wish to join is the one from the movie “Living Out Loud,” starring Holly Hunter. Oh, and I’d like to have the same backless dress she wore and have the same lithe back with jutting shoulder blades. (Just in case Santa is reading this.) I worry that with such a polarizing leader soon to take office in the US, Americans will be quick to label each other as traitors and approve of any discrimination and harassment they suffer just because our president-elect insults them on Twitter. Oh wait, that’s already happening.
America and Turkey are becoming more and more alike, merging together like Sunday mornings. Sometimes I can’t tell where I am.