Gaining weight and wisdom over the years
BELGİN AKALTAN - firstname.lastname@example.orgThis is me and my husband. One picture was taken on Nov. 9, 1979; 35 years ago, the other is this year. While you are reading this piece, I will probably be drinking a glass of good wine at one of our favorite restaurants at the side of the Bosphorus with my husband of 35 years across the table from me. (Yes, we can still drink alcohol in Turkey, but I’m not so sure what will happen next year.) I cannot find words to describe how much I love him, what he means to me and that he is the best thing that has happened to me in life.
Our son may or may not join us, but he will definitely give us a lift back home. We will drink, but we will not smoke. We both quit smoking about four or five years ago, so we do not know how angry we will make the president by only drinking and not smoking. Half?
It was back in Nov. 9, 1979 when we got married at a wretched ceremony in Ankara’s Gençlik Park. (Official wedding ceremonies have not gotten any better ever since. None of our official aspects of our lives have gotten any better. They keep getting worse. I don’t know why.)
My hair and my wedding gown were awful; my fiancé’s hair was better than mine. My dress made me look like I was pregnant. As a matter of fact, I was pregnant, but not as much as I looked. It was a nice bright Ankara day.
But our story started a few years earlier. One of the reasons why I am writing about it is that our chief copy editor last year this time, when I told him it was our 34th wedding anniversary, suggested I write about it. I did not feel like writing about it then. So I told him “Next year. When it is 35, maybe I will write about it.” (There is something wrong in quoting myself in my own column; definitely something wrong. Could it be that I adopt another personality while I am writing?)
These 35 years were not a rose garden. Let me tell you the secret to a happy marriage: There is no secret to a happy marriage. It is pure luck. It may be happy for a few years and then you have to exert a lot of effort in it to keep it going. Marriage is difficult; it can break any time. Some clues to facilitate the operation: Learn how to reconcile. Do not panic in your first years and do not panic in your later years. Learn to quarrel with the least amount of damage. Give plenty of space to each other. Being naïve or acting naïve helps at times. But even if you do all these things, there is no guarantee that your marriage will work. I tell you there is no formula. Everything can change tomorrow.
Our story: We knew each other from high school, but just as acquaintances… He was two years senior and that is a big deal at that age. He is from Ankara. I am from Istanbul. He went back to study in Ankara and I went to Ankara two years later to Ankara University, at the Political Science Faculty. (See how the ÖSS, the dreadful nationwide university entrance examination changes Turkish people’s lives. If I were at Istanbul Technical University, I would not be writing this.)
It was my first day in Ankara and I knew nobody in that city. I heard somebody call “Belgin” while I was rushing to school down the street that was called Adakale Street at that time. I did not look up. It must be another Belgin. Then I hear another “Belgin.” I looked up and saw him across the street. I think the earth stopped turning at that moment. It must be almost 40 years ago, but I still remember that moment as clear as this moment. Music started in my head, lightning struck; all of the things around me went into slow motion. He waited for a car to pass and then he started walking toward me, there were universal messages pouring in my direction, there were rings, bells, colors… He was the one… There were embarrassing moments when I could not stop my hands from shaking when we were exchanging phone numbers. I was hoping he did not notice. He told me he did. He liked it.
Well, this is not all of it. We broke up, we got back together again, and we broke up again. There were two or three serious divorce attempts and countless not-so-serious divorce or break up attempts during those years. I hated him for an hour, for a day, for a week, as intensely as I loved him. I shouted at him, I threw things at him. I wrote horrible letters to him. For many years, I never lied to him. Then I got wiser. And yes, now we do lie to each other. It is an indispensable part of life.
Sorry, this looks like a teenager’s Facebook page.
Why am I telling you all of this? I don’t know, maybe to show that there are also good things happening in our poor country, Turkey. Despite the political disappointments, to show you that we may still have happy personal lives…
I am afraid of “nazar” the Turkish “evil eye” more than anything else. So, please knock on wood, scratch your behind and lick your palm…
Now we are getting older and fatter, with a lot of health problems. I like to be beside him, and I know he likes to be beside me. (Or, maybe we should ask him.) We are thrilled when our son joins us. We have nice friends and nice neighbors, (except the ones living upstairs in my old flat…) nice relatives… This is a segment of life in Turkey…
Happy anniversary to all of the couples…