A month-long visit to Minnesota has ended. It was a whirlwind of self-indulgent fun. Friends and family invited me home and took me out for lunches and coffee. I saw a hilarious comedy show called Obama Mia, and four summer movies, the best of them Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris. With Angela, I walked the streets of the Minnesota State Fair and the three-mile road around the Landscape Arboretum. On foot, I also circumnavigated Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun.
The sun shone every day. I read local news and basked in Sunday afternoons with the New York Times. I ate fresh bagels and crispy BLTs, take-n-bake bread, and chocolate chips right from the bag. I shopped at Target, cleaned up after a basement flood, and weeded a yard neglected for a year.
It was hard to leave. Although I enjoy Turkey, I don’t have a strong emotional connection to it, and the tie could be cut relatively easily. The clock may be ticking on Angela’s time in Minnesota, and I’m painfully aware that I am missing another year of it. And because of my teaching job, I probably won’t get the chance to return until June of 2012.
Now back in Istanbul, I gaze at the items I brought from the States to make my life better. Ziplock bags. Precise pens. Season Four of Mad Men. It is always to fun to make that wish list, and highly exhilarating to track each item down and buy it. But back here, I realize they will have only a negligible effect on my life. They won’t help me gain a deeper understanding of the Turkish culture, and they won’t help fill my days and weeks here that, though interesting, are thin compared to my rich Minnesota life.
I got back to Istanbul on Tuesday. As we rounded one of the last bends in the road leading to our apartment, I caught sight of the Bosphorus far below, gleaming teal in the late afternoon sun. Its ship horns ease us awake in the mornings, and we cross its acrobatic suspension bridges to go to work. We watch it change from pale to deeper blue and finally to violet each day, and its frequent evening fireworks delight us. At the sight of this ancient, storied body of water I felt a warmth arise within me. Is it possible to love two countries at the same time? I don’t know. But it seemed clear that our upcoming months in Turkey are going to be just fine.