So, my friend and I went to Turkey for a week, a resort called Bodrum. It was quite an experience; we went mainly for the beach, and to soak up a bit of the culture, but everything was so Anglicised. There were countless 'British pubs' and karaoke bars, and even a restaurant that proudly proclaimed that it served gravy pies! We did have a great time, lazing on the beach and sipping cocktails and such, but we were hassled constantly by people trying to sell us stuff, and men getting too friendly. Don't get me wrong, they never laid a hand on us, but they seemed determined to become our best friends, and continually talked of 'finding the one' I think we can loosely translate 'the one' as 'an English Visa'.
Here is a piece that I wrote whilst there, on the beach. I was suffering with homesickness quite badly, so it's not the most upbeat prose in the world, but I quite like it... it kind of sums up the contrasting juxtapositions that we were immersed in. I also feel that I should mention that a man offered me fifty camels for my friend Beccy.
Anyway, here goes:
On holiday, one dreams of romance, supposedly. But nothing could be further than that here. Perpetually single, I’m surrounded by unhappy couples and screaming children. And yet there are those couples too wrapped up in each other, sometimes quite literally. A waif of a woman reclines in her sunbed with the leg of her man wrapped around her like a serpent. He keeps readjusting her, as though scratching a part of himself. And then their son, perhaps fifteen, stands up, into my view, from the sunbed behind them, and they shift in my perception.
Bodies become a thing you’re much more aware of: writing or reading over your own stomach, the damp cling of a bikini you wish you’d purchased a size larger. There is a man without a belly button, and I wonder how he was born. My own winks at me, a constant reminder of where I came from, the very fleshiness of it all. The sag or squeeze of a pair of swimming trunks reveal too much of a man’s shape. And I marvel, too, at the many men with hips, as if androgyny is creeping upon us, one saggy male bottom or man breast at a time.
Then there are the children: the little girls with straight, up and down bodies. They’re quite tall, and seem to me like a plank of wood. I wonder how all of their organs can even fit in there, and if they can be truly alive. I guess they’re playing a waiting game, or their mothers are, while they play blissfully unaware in the place where the sea meets the shore, until one day a pair of breasts will spring up and surprise them.
Ladies struggle down the beach in neck-to-ankle bathing suits, baggy, with their heads covered, so as not to offend or arouse. But doesn’t this offend them? It seems, to me, to draw more attention to the issue—but perhaps this is because I’m not used to it. Yet they plunge into the waves gleefully with their children with water guns, and the sea, pulled by the moon, brings out their abundant curves of its own accord as their thin fabric is plastered to them.
This strikes me as such a contrast to the young men, who accost you from outside of bars. ‘Won’t you shake my hand?’ they ask you, after shouting ‘hey girls!’ and calling you like cattle. I wish they could understand the sensibilities of a handshake. They lure us for our money, and yet in some, the younger, the ones who are newly rearing their heads through twenty, there is a glint of something else, a more base greed, as they comment on the whiteness of our skin.
Homesickness sticks like a lump of apple pie somewhere between my bottom ribs and my heart. It’s higher than anxiety, which lingers around my belly button and creeps saltily up my throat. And yet it is not so high as heartache or depression. Though there is something delicious in heartache, a universality, knowing that it strikes all, like the burning sun. It is unavoidable, unlike these other pangs, which may or may not affect an individual. They are wolves, which hunt out the weak and rip at their organs.