Saturday, January 23, 2010

Last Day of School and A Visit from a Superstar

A blizzard is forecast. And we are only getting rain. The students who have not been at school all week suddenly descend upon the school like flies landing to feast upon a rotting carcass. Today is report card day. They must come. Trying to run a class is like trying to herd rabid street cats. I get so frustrated at one point (I just want to play a game!) I drop the F bomb and the giggling little goblins hear.
During the break, I have to go down to the accountants office to clear up some paperwork for my direct deposit. As I'm coming out, I'm rifling through my documents and not watching where I'm going. I bump into someone, say "sorry" out loud, mumble "idiot" under my breath, and do not look up. I follow this person halfway down the hall before I notice the line of suits standing at every door, grinning like school boys waiting for their Christmas present. I look up and realize that the person I ran into and the person I've been following is none other than Alex De Sousa, captain of one of Istanbul's football team and one of the most famous men in Turkey! (Imagine running into Curt Schilling at work). Two other less popular players flank him and he's being strung along as if on an invisible leash by the team (and school) owner, Aziz Yildirim.
They pop into each class room to say hello, starting with the one at the end of the hall. I duck in with one of the English teachers (the room located smack in the middle) and pretend I've been there teaching the whole time as we all wait together for the celebrities to descend. The girls are saying how they don't care about football in the slightest as they adjust their hair. The boys are jumping around like chimps. When Alex enters, they all go wild except Ercument--the self-proclaimed handsomest boy in the school. He walks up and deftly slips his arm around Alex's shoulders, whispers something in his ear, and then laughs. Alex laughs, too. They shake hands, and cameras flash. You would think famous Ercument was the one paying a visit to lowly Alex. This kid is slick.
After school, I walk to the bus stop in the sleet and catch a ride to my Turkish lesson. I have written an essay about the sounds of Florida and my memories of Lake Santa Fe, and my teacher, Sevim, puts my paper down and begins telling me about old Istanbul. "Just on the outskirts of the city, it used to be so green. We had such a garden! Every fruit tree you can imagine! Pears, apples, apricots, cherries, oranges, lemons. Mom had a little garden just for lilies. Their scent filled the whole yard. She would cut just two, white ones, and lay them in a basket and then pile in fruit from our trees. These we'd take to the neighbors who would fill our basket with things from their own gardens. Oh, I remember walking through the grass in bare feet. And lying in my room at night and hearing the rustling of the poplar trees outside my window. There was a man named Mahmud--he used to live with his mother until she died and then he was all alone in his big house. We called him Mad Mahmud. He would walk around in bright colored clothing--purple, orange, green--and we used to follow him around and sing songs about him."
And then she burst out crying.
"There's no place left like this anywhere! No where. The smell of lilies, the taste of fruit right off the trees, grass, and wind in the poplars! And those neighbors! Nobody bought groceries in the summer! We just kept bringing food to each other! This city is just houses and buildings and more houses now! And mama and dad! They're gone, both gone!"
I never know what to do in the face of people's losses. And this one clearly affected her deeply--home, parents--all gone now.

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