Dreams of Summer

My husband sill wants to go back to Turkey to see his family and have a vacation this summer.  I’m…not sure.

We planned, after our daughter was born, to go back every 3-6 months for pediatrician check-ups and seeing his family, as well as for our annual summer vacation.  The trip is relatively short – a five-hour flight followed by a 45 minute flight.  With check-ins and transfers it makes for a long day (but doesn’t flying anywhere these days, with the long lines and security delays?), but we’re far closer than we will be for the following 5+ years, after we move to the States.

But do we go to Turkey this summer?

I’d love to go.  Turkey is a stunningly beautiful country and the dripping golden sun along the coast, fresh fish eaten by the shore of the epic blue sea, exhausting our limbs swimming and then exploring town or heading off to dinner with our hair still crisp with sea salt,  leather sandals and ancient cobblestones, driving down the sweeping coast to have calamari by a boat house or seek ruins among the pines, feeding slivers of moist white cheese to ferocious kittens that prowl beneath outdoor tables, stopping in a village bazaar to buy figs bursting with the heat of the fields and green olives so briny they pucker your mouth, a beer and long conversation as the sun settles softly over the blueviolet horizon – is to me the definition of vacation. We should also see his family (we haven’t in a year), and bring back the baby to let her be coddled and bounced and hugged and kissed and smothered with the ebullient affection of a Turkish family.

But can we? It’s definitely better if we save more money now, as my husband won’t be working for several months after we move to the states, we basically need to set up an entire new household once we arrive (pots, pans, dishes, bicycles, replacements for everything that’s gradually worn out over our years abroad or is too low-quality to bother shipping), and we’re thinking of buying a house within the next year. However, it’s also en route to the US, and we’re closer now than we will be later. Fiscal considerations aside, however, I still wonder whether we should, if we have anything to worry about.

Living abroad it’s impossible to read the news and understand what the situation is like on the ground for people actually in the country.  I understand that Turkey’s meta political situation is currently not going in a positive direction.  I understand that, for people living in working in Turkey, the arena of free speech, of free movement, is becoming gradually constricted.  Especially after the [moderate, non-partisan] think tank I was working for last year was seized and shut down in the post coup-attempt sweep, I wouldn’t want either of us to be working in Turkey right now, as we would always have to be careful, always face that insecurity of the government just sweeping in and seizing companies or making it impossible for non partisan-supporters to do business or firing contracted state employees.  But we won’t live there, at least not for the present, so we wont necessarily face the concerns of daily life.

My husband’s family believes everything is fine (really?!? we watched the coup night bombing from my in-laws panoramic living room windows). What I saw when I was there was that change (social, political in the everyday) was not swift, but a gradual chipping away, a gradual constriction of old patterns: a few more police on the corners, a new tension in the air whenever we passed a demonstration downtown, a chill on the streets after each incident, a new worry at work or new words making their way into everyday conversation.  Over time the change is monumental, but from day to day, buried other a thousand other mundane things, inconsequential.

So – potentially volatile political situation, potentially few changes along the Mediterranean coast, impossible to predict what steps the party in power will take before the constitutional changes of the recent referendum come into being in 2019, especially considering the push-back they’ve received both from in-country opposition parties and the larger international community.  Maybe they’ll be slow and kind and cautious.  Maybe Turkish passport holders would have trouble getting out of the country.


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