It is an early hour for Saturday… We are eating the sandwiches we brought with us with fresh tea in the tea garden. The tea garden is not the figure of speech… It is a complete tea garden with linoleum covers, promotion umbrellas, middling chairs, and even lamps designed in the form of a tea box and I wonder how they look like at night… It has more than a hundred tables but at the moment only five or six are full including ours.
Against us is Istanbul that has started the day early again. Island ferries have started their round trips. Lucky boat owners sail to Marmara. Saturday lies before them with all its possibilities; they go full speed ahead.
When I look up, I see the aged trees and the cats when I look at the ground.
A lonely woman is sitting at the table behind us. Wearing glasses, short hair… My judgment filters convey her to my brain as “smart, intellectual”. Maybe someone else would say “neglected and unhappy”, who knows?
Lights cigarettes repeatedly. Although I don’t like it very much, my interest is in her focused state right now. There are a pen and paper in front of her. She thinks and writes. I glance over my husband’s shoulder, straight away; no, she doesn’t write a story or anything. It seems like she is making a list. Maybe she’s determining her topics first. Whatever it is… I am impressed by her focused state in this view. I want to look like her here, too. I want to appear like ordered my tea, turned on my computer, and focused. There is a lot I want to write; I don’t know if I aped her image or her ability to focus. I guess both… I can write very efficiently in crowded cafés and coffee shops where I don’t know anyone. But this tea garden has a different atmosphere. In fact, while I was writing there, I wish someone would take my photo so that I would look at myself. I would like it very much… Or would I be nervous that I looked overweight? Still, it’s easier to look at me from the outside than from the inside.
It is easier to look from the outside at the models in fashion magazines, the clothes in the shop windows, the photos of the beautifully furnished houses, the sample rooms in that giant furniture store, the restored houses with plenty of tales, the old Istanbul apartments with high ceilings, the flowered balconies on the islands and to believe what they promise. And even to distribute the luck of the boat owners abundantly, whom I have just called “lucky” … However, I don’t know what is going on inside of those and inside the inside of them.
I’m making a plan and I’m in front of the tea garden early the next Saturday. There are so many empty tables that I cannot decide which one to choose. If I sit here, a crowded group may come behind me, if I sit here, I am very close to the teahouse, and the view of the other table is cut by trees. I choose a table and sit down, even though I don’t feel very comfortable. First, I will have a snack and drink tea in a water glass. I like to order the first tea of the morning big. But then something gets caught in my mind. If I drink a lot of tea and need a toilet, I can’t leave my purse and computer here. If I take them and leave the table, it may be taken when I return. What should I do?
I order a small tea and decide to drink it slowly.
I make a plan thinking “Let me enjoy the scenery first. Let me remember where I live. Let me offer thanks”. I start looking at the view, but immediately get bored, my eyes catch on other customers who are starting to come. My best view is people actually, I love to observe. But I get so caught up in the observation that this time I worry that “I was going to write, the clock is ticking, now this place will be filled, I will get up before I can write anything”. I immediately turn on my computer. I have a screen in front of me now. What should I write? Should I write for my web page, should I write the first lines of my book, or start the last reading of my friend’s book as I promised her? Before I can decide, I hear the message tone of my phone. I told my husband not to text each other for a few hours. Who else can write on Saturday morning? My daughter? I can’t stop wondering and I take the phone out of my bag. However, while I was making this plan, I promised myself not to take it in my hand. The message is from a friend, but it’s not an urgent matter. I can delay replying to her, but I’m caught in the Instagram notifications on the screen. Many comments came to the post I made yesterday. I’m suddenly feeling bored for a moment; someone sure wrote something wrong and those who supported him started to lynch me. Oh, I don’t like social media but I can’t give it up either. No, I cannot continue without looking at these messages. I open up and start reading. Anyway, there are not many casualties. Someone accused me of being unrealistic, someone else wrote a reply to that person, and the conversation continued from there. It is moving in a balanced way; I decide not to interfere. I’ll put the phone back in the purse, but at that moment my eye catches on the view. All over the sea is full of vessels. They pass each other in real harmony. Ship, speedboat, sailboat, fishing boat… If the boats were also thinking, would they float like that?
They look so beautiful that I have to take pictures, sorry, I can’t miss this moment. Then I will have to share, but I can’t help and take them. After trying a few frames, my final frame comes to the desired state. Good. How many seconds would it take to post this to an Instagram story? But it doesn’t work that way, it takes quite a long time to decide what I want to write on the photo. I’ve been nervous about this ever since I realized that while I was laughing at someone’s posts, my adolescent daughter was laughing at my writing. Whatever I write seems funny because my dear teenager even laughs at me writing “Good morning”. She says “Good morning” with a sarcastic emphasis and giggles. Oh, what a fierce cycle! Mom, forgive me!
Finally, I share the photo without writing anything. Even if they can’t see me at work, they know where I am, right? Now we are again with the computer screen. I’m starting to touch the keys. I’m writing something, but this time my mind gets caught up in a phone call that I have to make. I have to ask someone for something; I have been delaying it for many days. This is something that needs to be done immediately, get rid of, and bores one the longer it takes. But you know it is hard to “want” … Or is it just hard for me? The worst thing is that the other party can say “no” and this is not the end of the world. But I am one of those who prefer not to ask to avoid this refusal. Who refused you when you were a child, kid? I live in a period when I realize this and try to overcome it. If it is not right to postpone, then I decide to call. I take my phone out again, find the name and tap the green button. It’s not too early anymore, I guess it wouldn’t be a shame. As soon as the other party says “Hello”, I stand up without thinking. I love pacing while talking on the phone outside of the home because if I stay in front of the computer, I will look at my writings and photos and my mind will be distracted… To make the subject eatable, I chat a little bit, even dwell on it a bit, and finally come to the point. Meanwhile, I’m wandering between the tables, I’m looking around without seeing… The answer I get is not ‘no’, but it’s not a smooth ‘yes’. What could I expect anyway? For a smooth yes, I must first have a smooth request. Confident, clear! Anyway, thank God for that too.
I go back to my place. I haven’t been able to focus on anything for an hour and a half, but I have a great topic to focus on right now: I need to pee! This time, I find it difficult to change my focus. A slight hum started as the tables were full and reaching the waiters turned out to be a miracle. I have to wait until the tray of fresh tea starts to circulate.
Finally, I’m catching a waiter’s eye, I make a check sign with my hand… The first day I learned this sign comes to my mind. We were in middle school age. Late 80’s… Bodrum summers… We went to the famous Penguin Patisserie, three girls. Payam said “Look what I’ll show you, I just learned” and made this sign to the waiter with her hand. She said, “This is how the check is asked for.” We clung to the table with Arzu and laughed like crazy, and now that I enter this memory, I can even smell that wonderful wooden table. Then, when have I started making this hand signal automatic, I absolutely cannot remember. But I better don’t get into “Oh those old wooden tables”.
The bill comes. I could only have one cup of tea, I am not aware of when I drank it, I pay and get up. With the awareness that the work is not finished by putting myself in that view that I like very much… When I haven’t known “me” for a long time which I have put in that view, whether it is the most beautiful view, the most beautiful house, the most beautiful armchair or summer residence… I know it will not happen. It has not happened to anyone. The capitalist system will not stop promising this, but the number of people who do not take this bait is, fortunately, increasing rapidly.
Time does not go by smoothly in life neither for the old woman who is sipping her tea on the flowered balcony nor for the beautiful woman who is spread out on the armchairs in a summer garden in a specially designed dress. Life is lived like my story that I just told and of which second part is fiction. There is always uneasiness in the plans. The plan does not flow, it freezes. You are wearing that dress, but your mind is with the merciless lover or you furnish that sample room but the installments never finish. Maybe you are moving into a wonderful house or you are getting into a brand-new car but it just doesn’t work, it’s not “complete”. We all know that it is not complete… We know but… It is easier to fall into a mind trap. We imagine ourselves with photo frames. In frozen, emotionless moments… At the steering wheel of that car, on that house window, on that armchair, on that beach, on that wonderful trip… A frozen “me” photograph… However, if it was a video and I hit the play button, thoughts would start flowing without hiding… That photo will no longer be that photo, the image will start to sizzle. These beautiful photos, which we dream of while trying to cope with life, become meaningless when they begin to flow with life.
Knowing this, we try to be happy with the new ones over and over again. When the previous “new one” doesn’t work, we move on to the next one. This time maybe we linger for a little while, but then we get back to the beginning. We cannot get out of this cycle because we have forgotten the beginning of the story. Because this is a mental plan… Traps that cause the person to get caught deeper in trying to deactivate the mind…
What I mean is… Realize – or let’s realize together – that what you really want in those moments when you say “I wish it was mine; I wish I had it, too” for something is not the item or the place, but the feeling you think it will give you. Also, the source of that feeling cannot be that item… We are the source, not the item. Perhaps we will be complete when we stop putting these items, in fact, armor, between us and life… And I think our deep-seated fear is not to remain without items, but to be complete…
As you get closer to this state, the item comes and you enjoy it. When it does not come, or sometimes it comes and goes back, you are always the same: balanced and calm…