I had an experience last night. Today I read an article that did a good job of explaining what happened to me.
First, the experience:
Last night, we were leaving our friends’ house late enough to necessitate hailing a cab. We crossed the road to the taxi call box. It’s midnight, it’s dark. On the corner behind the call box, there is a man standing on the steps to a building. I recognize the simit on his head, though it’s odd for a simitçi to be selling at midnight. Then I realize he’s crying. Like, catching his breath, wiping his eyes.
My instinct was – is this guy playing us and is going to ask us for money? I felt that for a split second and then felt awful. This man seemed to be in real pain. Sure the whole circumstance was strange but as we pulled away in the taxi, I wanted to stop and go back and hug him. Even now, I hope he’s okay.
Today I found an article that discussed why Americans don’t admit to being in culture shock. Shock is a negative term and something we can’t deal with. Some people suggest calling it culture stress, which sounds more managable – and really, being able to manage in a new culture is a great asset, even if it’s stressful.
We’ve been here almost a year. There are still times when I don’t want to speak Turkish to a taxi driver, so I make Andy do it. I need cultural breaks. And, as the article discussed, I still don’t always know who to trust.
But that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t love. That’s what I came here to do. To live the broken-heart manifesto in Turkey. Here’s hoping it improves. And hoping that Turk gets a hug.
(Thanks to Thomas Knoll for writing the Broken Heart Manifesto. May we all remember it.)