Letter to my friend in America

July 4 2000 Orlando airport

July 4 2000 Orlando airport

Well it has been a quiet week in our little village of Çukurbağ. My daughter and her beloved and two of their best friends decided to come here for a short holiday. The others will return to Brussels in a week and my daughter plans to stay on until the 22nd. I am celebrating an anniversary of sorts, it was 11 years ago, July 4, that I boarded a plane in Orlando for a flight to New York and then on to Istanbul.

Can it be that long ago, a year longer than a decade? You and Jimmy drove me there and took my old Buick into safe keeping and where Jimmy fascinated me with his tales of running dope on those very same roads just a few short years before and telling me that you literally saved his life and as I looked around at you while he was telling me that, your face broke out into that Cheshire cat smile and simply nodded then back to the Louise Hay book you were reading so as to finish it and gave me as a gift to give to Ayse. Whew, has it really been that long?

I am in one of those places in what is left of my life where I have not gotten over being “an American” which Ayse so fondly loves to remind me and yet I will never be Turkish as she also remarks upon occasion. “Fitting in” is something I was never very good at and so I have found that I was more than lucky at finding Ayse along this bumpy road I call my life. She is more than my best friend (bumping you into second place I am sad to say), she is a guide to what I should be seeing as life. She does not intend to be my guide nor does she desire it, she simply is trying to find her own way in this mad place we live and in the process is a lesson from which all of us could benefit.

The VA finally got around to recognizing that I am deaf in one ear, that I cannot hear out of the other and that the ringing in between them is like a radio signal from an alien society trying to make contact with Earth. Sheeit, they even gave me back pay of over a year! I was thunder struck at the results. They even said I could claim a few dollars extra simply for being married if I filled out one of the many forms they have on file and send it off to them which I have dutifully accomplished. (Proud of me I am!) Now I am up to a 30% rating which is almost enough to pay for one month of a farmer’s heating bill in Kansas in winter; but along with good old Franklin Roosevelt social security and the largess of the Turkish system bestowed upon Ayse, we are able to feed our four cats in style while occasionally having a bite of kibble ourselves.

Have you decided upon which Indian reservation you will retire? Or are you going to Somalia and work with Doctors without Borders or give Jimmy Carter a hand with a hammer? Whatever route you take I am convinced the world will be a better place for having you walk upon it.

My wife has a similar kindness, yet different, in her person. Since it is early summer, she occasionally finds a crumpled grasshopper in the house with one leg after our cats have had a toss or two with it and gone away bored. Her smile turns into a frown and she says “canim benim” which translates to something like “my dear” but really means a whole lot of other things as well depending upon the context. She carefully carries it outside (if it is still alive) and puts it in the garden where she prays it will once again flourish and eat its way back into health. We can be having the most interesting conversation about how Amerika sucks (she with eyes glazed over) and suddenly her face lights up and she interrupts my complex and fascinating diatribe to point out the butterfly which just alighted on a flower, or the crow in the tree preening its wings or the hawk flying overhead so high it is barely recognizable. Once in a while, when I have what is left of my wits about me, I recognize what just happened and smile, because in her child-like wonder of the rest of the world I am being given a lesson about what life is really all about. Maybe, just maybe, in another millennium or two, I might actually take some of her heart to my heart and start seeing the same things. Who knows? There may just be room in the world for this curmudgeon to actually alter his disposition.

Have you had any new body parts replaced lately? How do you explain all your bionic stuff at an airport? Do the security gestapo suddenly freek out and train their laser guided automatic rifles at you and scream for everyone to get down while yelling frantically at you to raise your hands? Or, do they just let you walk through, thinking that such a benign and benevolent soul could scarcely cause any damage to their precious airplane?

I hope you and all the kids and all are doing well.

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