As soon as I landed in Istanbul I was struck by the incongruity of the Turkish character. The country continues to become modernized - everything is clean, new, up to date - the airport is beautiful, well kept and modern. And while most of the people you encounter are westernized and forward thinking, there is a huge segment of the population that’s just not taken the leap. It is interesting to observe and sometimes very surprising.
Now a whole dissertation could probably be written about this little exchange. About what the head-scarf and the variations of the muslim “covering” of women signifies to me (subservience, oppression, powerlessness, giving up of identity) and what it means to her (freedom of expression.) At any rate this conversation then took a pause. I made lots of small talk about how adorable her daughter must be - and god bless her - and so on. She then asked me: are you married. Now this is a question many of us gay men often must carefully navigate. I could’ve said yes - since John and I, for all intents and purposes are married. And left it at that and see what she asks next, if anything. Or I could’ve said “no” and that could be the end. And even though I didn’t think this through in my head, the right thing seemed to be to tell the truth. So I said, no. My male partner and I have been together for over thirty years but haven’t discussed marriage just yet.
First she seemed unfazed - like this was a most ordinary revelation. A moment later she said: I’ve never had a gay friend before. And I replied: well now you do. She looked away. By this time we had exchanged email addresses and were now in full descent. She looked at me and said I feel sick. What’s the matter I said - she said my ears are popping and my stomach is queazy. We didn’t talk much after that. Once we landed she grabbed her bag and got in front of me. She rather pushed people out of the way to get ahead. When someone said something like - are you alright, “I miss my daughter” she shrieked, never said another word to me, and disappeared into the crowd.
Took a cab to the Dedemen Hotel where Çatalhöyük had reserved a room for me. All the expected amenities: air condition, wifi, and a pool. Fell to bed and got a good nights' sleep. No jet lag!!