“March Madness” takes on a different meaning for me this year. Few people I know actually like March. With the exception of my niece and a few friends celebrating their birthdays this month, March is the kind of month that wears out its welcome really quick. “In like a lion”? Rude. People have had enough of winter. “Out like a lamb”? That just leaves people saying, “Good riddance!” as they embrace April. To make it worse, it’s five weeks long. Five weeks wouldn’t be so bad if I were not working for three out of those five weekends. Now, I won’t gripe about that part too much because I am blessed to have a job in the first place, let alone one that allows me to live in the same precious country as my beloved Canim.
But that doesn’t make March suck any less — not even with St. Patrick’s Day, because a holiday that doesn’t give me the day off is of little use to me.
March Madness also has a new meaning because of the coming elections, the potential internet shutdown, the death of 15-year-old Berkin Elvan (a boy who died after being put in a coma during the Gezi Park protests), and various other scandals affecting the nation’s government. People have taken to the streets again. The police have met them there. It has gotten ugly, but I haven’t experienced it in person.
Last night, Canim and I decided to take a walk to surprise our friends at the local havas (airport shuttle) stop as they were on their way back home to Istanbul. The walk was about 1km away from my house. We could hear music playing and horns honking in the distance. As we approached the stop, we found ourselves walking alongside a parade of cars, motorcycles, and vans loudly playing music in favor of a local politician in an opposition party. It was loud, but I didn’t feel threatened. Holding my hand, Canim calmly asked, “Darling, what will we do if the police come?” I’m not sure what broke my heart more, the fact that we needed a plan in case violence broke out, or the fact that he was so calm about it, like this is the new normal. My plan was just to run like mad in the opposite direction.
My mind was racing thinking about how scary my new Turkish reality has become this year, but I stopped when the breeze wafted the strong scent of orange/turunc blossoms my way (we actually didn’t agree on the source of the blossoms, but I’m certain I am correct). I pointed out the tree. He didn’t notice it initially, but he smelled the flowers and we agreed that the smell was intoxicating. He picked a flower off of the tree for me. We stood on the sidewalk smelling the flowers, forgetting about the politicians, the police, and all of the problems that have been hanging in the air throughout the whole country. It was a sweet moment, and the only thing that topped it was when we were walking back home and we spotted another tree with (orange or citrus) blossoms. Rather than picking another flower for me, he grabbed a small branch, and now my kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom smell like (orange or citrus) blossoms. It was very funny to me, for some reason, and the look on his face as we walked back to my house was something I will remember for a long time. It was like a look of contentment (although he later told me I need to teach him a word that means “more than happy” because that’s what he is). It was as though for a few minutes, he wasn’t thinking that Monday was just a few hours away, or that the country seems to be spiraling out of control (or into far too much control, depending on your perspective). He was just savoring the moment with me, knowing that our time together is more important than anything else. I’m learning so much from him, and he doesn’t even know it.