On the plane from Chicago to Munich, I read Of Love and Other Demons by one of my favorites, Gabriel García Márquez. I sat next to a guy from Deli who definitely assumed it was a romance novel (which, I mean, it is about a dark and terrible romance, but not in the sense he thought). I ended up finishing the book while over the Atlantic and gave my seat-mate the book as a gift. Its a nice thing- traveling with books. You can trade them, give them away, share them. They say something about you, but usually only enough to start a conversation, not finish one. While we were in Georgia last week, a British guy we met traded a Polish guy a German book for a French one. I love it.
But the point of reflecting on books and travel is the title: Of Love and Other Deamons. This is how Turkey feels at times. I love it. I love the food and the surprises and the utter oddity of being in this place. I enjoy my colleagues, my students, and our beautiful University. I love the uncanny feeling of home in random moments when the unknown meets some part of my ingrained, tightly-held memory.
At the same time, this year is full of difficulty. Demon is, I’m sure, too strong a word. And yes, yes, I’m so very, very aware that I’m incredibly privileged to be here and I’m so thankful for the opportunity, yes, yes, yes. But, ok, its also strange and awkward and annoying and yes, difficult! Mostly, the problem is me. Who knew I could be so short tempered, pompous, and mean-spirited to others? (Jenny, Peter, and Amanda, dont answer that.) Who knew I could so quickly feel boredom when everything could intrigue and excite me? Who knew I could be content to sit around in my own head for such long periods rather than exploring the infinitely complex and masterful minds of those around me?
I don’t say all this to harken back to the days of Xanga and teenage angst. I’m sure I’m exaggerating wildly. But my intention is to highlight that living abroad reminds me I’m not omnipotent. I can’t make everything work the way I want exactly when I want. And I have even less power or ability to control my world when my body and mind have to adjust to a new county, new food, a new language, a new altitude!
So, today I taught, got a University Email address, went for run, bought a pumpkin, baked said pumpkin and then pureed said pumpkin in order to use said pumpkin in tonight’s dinner: Thai spiced curry pumpkin soup. Oh, and I soaked ground coconut in water for 3 hours, blended it, and am using the strained liquid as my “coconut milk” since that (and canned pumpkin) doesn’t exist here. Yeah, how’s that for forcibly suppressing my strong belief in limitations as useful and productive learning tools!?
On a much lighter note, campus is very pretty right now. It’s Autumn!