rainy day Istanbul, from the Bosphorus

rainy day Istanbul, from the Bosphorus

I am back in the US of A.

Someone today asked Gail after reading yesterday’s Taksim Square post if I was still in Turkey.  I admit.  Part of me is yet there.  I know others among my traveling companions who feel the same way.

Bill Cox and I sat and talked as we waited in Adana airport for our flight back to Istanbul.  A older man quietly approached us.  He looked to be an American.  He guessed the same of us.  He told us that he had been a US airman stationed in Ankara.  Met and married his Turkish wife.  Retired.  And stayed.  He’s remained in Turkey for several decades.  Has loved it.  He hasn’t missed West Virginia though you can hear in his speech what he’s brought of it with him.

Almost two weeks earlier I spoke to another air companion.  On the flight from Chicago to Istanbul an older man sat directly in front of me on the long Turkish Air flight.  But it wasn’t until the plane taxied to the terminal and we all stood impatiently waiting to begin disembarking that we talked.

A native Turk he now lives in the US.  Has since 1954.  His children are all Americans.  A grandson now living in Israel persuaded him to meet in Istanbul.  The old man gave a faint smile as I commented on how Istanbul was hardly midway for the two of them.  I suspect he didn’t mind coming back home.  And to this city of thirteen million.  Cosmopolitan.  Bustling with young people.  Perhaps the young Israeli liked the idea of being in youthful Istanbul as much as seeing his grandfather.

The retired US airman told Bill and me that he just loves the Turkish people.  Warm.  Friendly.  He travels as part of his post-retirement work.  Enjoys the hunting and fishing.  He sounded like a West Virginia boy.

We enjoyed each other’s company, even if for a few minutes, even if we never meet again in this world.   A person can’t help but enjoy the company of someone else from home.  But the exquisite pleasure of meeting a fellow countryman can only take place in lands far away from home.

Context.  Context heightens shared identity.

Whether in a land far away.  Or in one of the great cities of our world.  Sometimes it matters where we meet.


from our hotel room morning in Konya (central Turkey)