When people made comments about Danny and I being crazy for moving to Turkey, one of our most common responses was to point out that I had not only lived overseas for a good portion of my life (11 out of 29 years) overseas, but that I had actually lived in Turkey before. After having been here for a month now, I would like to officially admit that although we lived in Turkey for two years, living on an American military base and living “on the economy” out in town are two very different animals. As families on our base went, we were very proactive about getting out — my mom was one of the very few spouses I knew who actually went shopping in the local produce market, for instance, and we travelled all over the country by bus and automobile. That said, our day-to-day lives were spent surrounded by other Americans, and even though we learned a bit of Turkish we got through two years just fine without really ever becoming conversant.

That thought occurred to me today, as I was in the middle of exaggerated sign language with our landlord’s handymen. They had come over to fix our shower, which leaks water all over the bathroom floor every time we use it. When they showed up at the door, I immediately busted out the sign language as well as two of the Turkish words I do know, “baby” and “please” to warn them that the baby was sleeping and request that they please speak quietly so as not to wake him. I then used more sign language to demonstrate that when we turn the shower on, water goes all over the floor, and we suspected it was due to one of the doors having come unhinged. The workmen then discussed among themselves, and very respectfully reported their findings back to me, none of which I understood at all. More sign language, and one other Turkish word that I know (Monday), led me to believe that they are going to replace the shower doors on Monday in order to stem the flow of water onto our floor. I nodded, repeated “Monday,” thanked them and wished them a good day. Of course, for all I know they may have been saying that since the office hasn’t paid our rent for this month, on Monday they will be selling Stephen and me into indentured servitude…

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