When I Miss Turkey (Notes from Scotland)

Sometimes when I miss Turkey, I sit in Edinburgh’s Princes Street park, drink too much coffee and endlessly crack open and swallow down salted pistachios. I get all hyped up on caffeine and pretend the park is the beach and the coffee and pistachios are Turkish. But the label on the bag of pistachios says they come from the USA or Iran. The company is not even sure where their fucking product comes from. The coffee I guess is Italian because the paper cup reads Segafredo but I’m sure the beans started in Colombia, or maybe somewhere in Africa. Maybe both. The bastardized system of producing and transporting food around the world makes me ache even more for the fresh nuts and coffee beans of the Turkish countryside. But for now my soul relies on substitutes to fill the gaping holes of my longing. Parks with sun and caffeinated highs to take me back. I close my eyes and feel the warmth of the dimmed Scottish sun on my face and arms. Maybe this could be like sitting on the Olympos beach, but with my clothes still on. Maybe for a moment I could block out the sound of the double-decker buses on the street above me and instead imagine the lapping of the waves and the voices of young Turkish men selling mussels and corn along the rocky shore. Maybe I can read and write and throw pistachio shells on the ground like they do in Turkey and maybe the Scottish park attendant won’t give me his scolding look to take my feet off the chair and pick up my shells.

I dramatically fabricate the words coming out of his mouth as he glances at me disapprovingly.

“This is a public park. Have to keep it tidy and orderly. Riff raff out, good behavior and quiet, discreet tourists in. Don’t bring your Turkish chaos and skewed longings here. There is a time and a place for everything. This is not the time for your salty nuts and tears. This place doesn’t have the capacity to hold your longing for a country that everyone now fears. Keep it to yourself. Tell your notebook about it. We’ll take the Turkish as long as it is in the form of delicious Mediterranean restaurants or slick barber shops. But no way in hell will you get us to go there. Terrorism, military coups, political corruption and millions of refugees aren’t exactly our idea of a vacation.”

This is what the world sees. So I keep my Turkey for myself, where it is safe from the fear and judgment of the world. I keep it on these pages, drink coffee, eat pistachios and try not to forget how the calm sounds of the Mediterranean waves softened my heart each morning of that bittersweet summer. I try not to forget the way my life began to beat in rhythm with the crashing afternoon waves. An unhurried pattern of liquid percussion. As the city swarms around me, I breathe in deep and let my memories take me back. But these types of memories can be dangerous. The intoxicating sweetness can lead to insatiable intrigue, uninhibited impulse. I restrain myself and every evening as I drink a glass of red wine, I sit at the opposite end of the room and stare at my computer. I sit far enough to avoid casually checking fares to Turkey. The airline sites are bound to catch on anyways. The prices always go up if you check the same route too many times.