We’re back from two wonderful weeks in Turkey, a trip we’d thought about taking for some time. Funny thing about me, though, as much as I’d looked forward to the trip, the week before leaving, I could hardly bear the thought of it. Whatever possessed us? and similar thoughts bothered me while I made lists and packed and counted down to departure. H. laughed at me, because it happens every time. I’m such a homebody, that’s the fact of it, and in a strange and completely unnecessary way I feel as long as one of us is here–in this particular house we call home–our lives and our children’s will keep orbiting as they should. (The children will laugh at this too, for they’ve all circled their own places for years by now!) The minute we’re off the driveway, I’m fine. Nothing I can do about it now, I think, and since there really isn’t, I leave physically and mentally and I don’t worry about the house either.
Now we’re back, and this happens too: we’re in a daze and still overwhelmed by this thing that was two weeks in Turkey, both of us dreaming strange dreams about it nights–for which we can probably blame jet lag–and finding ourselves stuttering to answer friendly questions about how it was and highlights and so on. How was it? Great. A fascinating country. So many layers of history. So much beauty. Diversity. An excellent guide. Highlights? Istanbul, the Ataturk mausoleum, Cappadocia, Antalya, the Mediterranean Sea, Aspendos, Gallipoli, minarets (the basic shape, the variety). And more.
But the what. I’ve been thinking about the what of travel: what it is, what it does. We had some time to kill in Toronto on the way over, so I sat there googling combinations of home and travel and leaving one’s center–the stuff that always exercises me before I leave, per above–because I thought perhaps it was high time to figure out (again) why this venture had, in fact, possessed us. (Like that woman walking the Camino de Santiago who said, “They told me I’d find the answer here. Then I realized I didn’t have the question!)
I landed at quotes by travel writer Pico Iyer, and he was going on about travelling to lose ourselves and travelling to find ourselves and he said “home lies in the things you carry with you everywhere and not the ones that tie you down,” and he also said, “the state of foreignness is the closest thing I know to home.” Well, maybe for him, but for me, nope, nope, nope, and nope. But then he said (in the row of quotes, that is) that we travel to open our hearts and we come with our ignorance and we “become young fools again” and we “get taken in” and “fall in love,” all of which sounded plausible enough.
I think it’s a lot like reading a really gripping book and when you lift your head from the last page you realize it’s dusk and the house is cold, that’s how thoroughly elsewhere you’ve been. Or watching a powerful movie and you step out of the theatre stunned and disoriented, and then you think about the story for days. Book or movie, it touches you and takes you in new directions, in terms of your inner life or knowledge or actions. You’ve been immersed in another story, not your own. But then when you’re done with it and home again in your life, you discover that other story has come along and is part of you.
Travel (for me) leaves home. Lines of coaches disgorging tourists with their cameras and varying degrees of ignorance and misperception can be caricatured easily enough, but nevertheless, a tour is a narrative, a choreography of getting on and off and looking and listening and eating and sleeping, of landscape and ruins and wonders and other people, a story of short intense chapters, and it’s not the home-ness of it that renders it so compelling, but the un-homeness of it all, the wrenching away into another account of life altogether. Love, like Iyer said, and its “heightened state of awareness.” Then it’s over, and you’re home, and you realize you’re still in thrall to it, you’ve been taken in, you were younger for a while. Young happy fools, you are, beguiled by the complex story of another place, which you’ll be thinking about for quite some time.
Below, if you’re interested, 16 photos as a tiny peek into our trip, along with the reason I selected each.
Dora, I thought I was the only one who felt like that on leaving home! I ALWAYS am reluctant to leave my home and all that’s in it, but once I’m on the way I’m totally fine! And I loved your comparison of reading a book to taking a trip. That’s what I’ve always enjoyed so much about reading. You can go to far away places without ever leaving the comfort of your chair!
thanks for sharing your photos. My favorite — the three women reading in the window nook. Welcome back!
Thanks, Elfrieda! And glad to hear I’m not the only one.
Thanks for posting your thoughts about traveling and also for the photos. Very interesting. Now I’m feeling ambivalent about traveling to Turkey myself–part of me wants to go there and see it myself and part of me doesn’t because I’ve already been there vicariously. Thanks again. Phil
And thank you. But if you get a chance, do go, without ambivalence. 🙂
Thanks for the reflections and pictures, Dora. The symbiosis between leaving and coming home is fascinating. I think “home” gains meaning when we can leave it and then come back to it with fresh eyes. But the transitions can be hard! Now I want to go to Turkey.
Thanks Byron. We really don’t travel that much, not like some who were on the tour, but this has certainly happened on previous trips as well. Interesting, though, that since returning I’ve learned of a number of people who have been to T. and I hear how it’s still with them, so I’m wondering what exactly it is about the place. Hope you get there too some day.
Your tour seems to have mirrored ours. Glad the Mediterranean was warm enough for you to swim in. Also, we did not see the umbrellas in Antalaya, but it was an interesting city, nonetheless.
Let’s for sure get together–when we can no longer bear the winter!–and compare notes.
Thank you Dora for writing your thoughts about home… Leaving and such. How we wish we would have been at our home and could have had you “drop in” and share your experiences face to face! I can agree with Pico Iyer…”we travel to open our hearts….come with ignorance… “. I love the traveling and can feel “at home” in many places…but I still love coming back to my space, my home and find quietness and rest! So glad you took the risk and left “home” to see a wonderful part of the world. Those memories will be with you forever.
I think you’re are uniquely gifted in that feeling at home in many places, Hazel. Good thing, as you have many opportunities to be in other places. — And for sure, we sure hope to get to the dropping in yet!
Welcome home, Dora. I loved the photos from the trip and enjoyed your reflection on traveling and leaving home. I am another of those who plan trips then wishes in the last week that I could just stay home. Don’t remember doing that when I was young, though. Then it was just eagerness, a different phase in my life.
Well, I am in good company on this score, then. And I think you’re right, it may have something to do with stage of life. When young, eagerness, eagerness. Thanks for the comment!
Thanks much, Dora.
I like the way you share your photos by telling us the reasons for selecting them.
Thanks Hardy. And I hope you appreciate my restraint in only posting 16 instead of the 400-some we took! 🙂
Such a wonderful entry about your trip, Dora – the feelings and reasons. I particularly enjoyed the photos and your reasons for selecting them!
You’ve done a lot of travelling in the last few years, Eunice. Wondering if Turkey is on the list.
Sorry, I did not respond to this months ago!! Eastern Mediterranean is on the list, including Turkey for me (not sure about Rick).
Have I only NOW discovered your blog? It was a wonderful account of your journey!! I wish I had more time to read. . . and remember my own trip to Turkey! Loved your account!
Lovely to hear from you, Miriam!