All my bags are packed; I’m ready to go. The artifacts have been carted away to Gaziantep, my work table and living quarters are cleared and put away for next season. Those of us who remain are scattered about the grounds at various tasks – packing away pottery and bones, writing reports, uploading data, packing and – unavoidably – laundry. The majority of us will fill a van tomorrow at 4:45 am to head off to Antep airport for Istanbul and parts beyond. By Sunday, we will all have departed – even a trio of the kittens will be leaving!
It seems that seven weeks have gone by awfully rapidly – and at the same time, it seems that a far longer time has passed since I left Toronto. Do I say that every year…?
People have been trickling away all week as digging came to an end. A trio of friends left late this morning and we had all gathered at the Belediye gate to see them off. There is a Turkish tradition of throwing water at a departing vehicle. Martina, Hande and Rob were walking down the hill to meet the bus, so the shower was directed at them instead of a closed conveyance – not unwelcome on a sizzling Fevzipaşa afternoon. The tradition has to do with a saying, “go with water, come with water.” I know…it doesn’t really translate, but for me it acknowledges an ebb and flow. Yes, life carries you far off sometimes – but occasionally, if you are really lucky, the tide bears you back again and again to good friends and treasured places, no matter the distance. As the three of them hiked away and the rest of us trailed back into the courtyard, it momentarily caught me that I am living a life of goodbyes.
In more than one conversation this season, someone has voiced what I have come to feel about the dig season: that it’s these two months that allow us to make sense of the rest of the year. It’s a chance to step outside – of a country, a culture, a life – and take stock of where I am and what I might do next. It’s different from a vacation because all summer I’ve been intensely focused – but on other things than home. When home does intrude – and I don’t mean friendly emails, but bills to pay or future tasks to set in motion – it’s actually somewhat disorienting and hard to get one’s head around. Still, by summer’s end, I’m eager to pick up those threads once more – but that’s still a few weeks away.
I’m not heading home – not yet. I’m off to Istanbul with Evren for a few days – and of course she’s already cooking up plans. We’ll be seeing folks from this dig and catching up with some from previous years. Evren leaves for Florence for an art restoration workshop at the end of the week and she is kindly allowing me to stay on in her apartment until September 1 when I will join a G-Adventures tour group to explore the west of Turkey – people I have never met and places I have never been!
More hellos. More goodbyes.