5am … dawn on a summer’s day, my first morning in Istanbul.
I remember leaning on the sill of a barred window and hearing the muzzein’s call to prayer go out across the city
5am because I had woken early, a mix of jetlag and panic. What the hell was I doing, moving to Turkey.
But hearing that call go out ... perhaps I began to understand something of why I was there. It was for moments like these, safe in the home of a friend, listening to a new world wake up around me, enchanted by the sound of an invitation to prayer in Arabic, blessed by the beauty of that sun-lit morning.
I believe that was the moment when the city slowly began to slip in through the gaps that a new world opens in me. You arrive as a child, without language, without knowledge, and you begin again ... until that new life becomes something like familiar too.
I have been thinking about this piece of writing, begun so long ago and far away, as I adjust to yet another new city not my own.
It's London this time. And slowly, those almost terrifying spaces that open up in me each time I move, are beginning to fill with new knowledge and understanding.
I understand the Underground. I'll walk home from my station after 9pm, through the winter-city darkness and along almost deserted roads. I can agree, although reluctantly thatfirst time, to meet friends for an impromptu dinner in Piccadilly Circus, without studying Google maps and making notes.
The people at this new Sainsburys are kind too. I go out and buy all the food for dinners that I am remembering how to cook, as each move seems to involve a degree of amnesia in me when it comes to 'things I can cook'. My repertoire is growing, although all of my cookbooks are back in Belgium.
There is no call to prayer here in London, although two of my 'homes' in England have involved early-morning alarm clocks that have made me smile over the inventiveness of alarm-creators. Those crowing roosters and other, barely remembered, sounds meant to wake the hard working people who have shared their homes with me, have come through doors and walls, leaving me amazed that anyone can sleep on. I wake easily, always, since I was small.
My way home is familiar now. The homes I pass are semi-detached and I enjoy checking out their gardens, making up stories about who might live there. I met a lovely neighbour the other day. Bob alternated between gentleman and mocking Englishman. He made me laugh.
My host, he's the kindest man. Wise too. I'll tell the story of him, with his permission, once I have some photographs. I met him out on Flanders Fields and we stayed friends. He takes in strays sometimes and so I'm one of those. A wandering stray until I work out where I'm heading and anchor myself again.
Accidentally, I am living a life where I have traveled a lot and lived in more than a few countries - long term, short term. Never planned.
This website is back in an 'under construction' phase ... perhaps 'reconstruction', as I re-cut my cloth to fit this new life.
I miss joy but I'm getting there. I guess there's the grieving first. Then the learning how to live a new life. And then there's working out the next part. I am exploring some possibilities and so, I guess, it's all about watching this space and seeing how things unfold.
Not even I know.