Saturday, January 7, 2017

hello again

It has been a long time— a very long time. I had it in mind when moving to Morocco that I would be posting like crazy with the same enthusiasm I had had when I moved to Istanbul, but things were different. Much different. When I left San Francisco for the city on two continents, I was going home. I was returning to the tulip-shaped tea glasses and simits of my childhood, the smell of coal in the snow, the deep blue of the Bosphorus on sunny days; it was familiar. I knew the rhythm of the city, I understood.

Moving to Rabat, I hoped for adventure and the excitement of discovery, but what I found was a difficult job and an unwelcoming environment, made more so since I am female— a foreign female. Whereas in Turkey I could visually pass as a Turk, here I am the obvious yabancı; I stand out, which brings on a whole set of interesting situations. Prices are immediately higher, I am quite often dismissed, and I am harassed by men nearly on the daily. As a result of the incessant "pssspssspssshing", grunts and comments, I found myself changing the way I dress and resorting to a constant "resting bitch face" while in public. At times I worried that my expression would become permanent. I developed a feeling of anxiety while being out alone, which is something I have never felt in the past. I didn't draw. I didn't write. I surrendered to a routine of getting up, going to work, getting through the day, coming home, and staying home. I felt like hiding.

When sharing stories on the internet, there's a desire to portray things in rosier tones. Everything is fabulous and lovely— you are not a traveller but an adventurer! A cup of coffee is transformed into something instagram-worthy with a meaningful quote about mindfulness or whatever. The mundane becomes a pretty picture. My palette was not rosy at all; pessimism and homesickness crept in, but news from my beloved Istanbul kept getting worse. The pretty picture in my mind faded with the bombs, shootings, "attempted coups", lies, and more oppression. It has been heartbreaking, and I haven't known what to say.

Naturally, these feelings could not continue. I needed to find joy and appreciation in my life again. I am living in an interesting, vibrant part of the world, with a loving and supportive partner. I have wonderful family and friends. I have patient stacks of paper, paint, and pencils awaiting me. I have a nice little apartment that is often invaded by cheeky buntings. My work life is improving, I am making progress, and I am enjoying it.

Every so often, Pedro and I have taken to the road to get to know Morocco a bit better. We have been to the High Atlas, the ocean, the orange Sahara, and the bleak, rocky plateau. We have met all sorts of people with all sorts of traditions, dined on sardines, questionable keftas and savoury tajines. I rode a camel who tried to kill me, and chased down a man on a mountainside in ceremonial goatskins for a sketch— and I have photographs of all of this. Upon the last couple of travels outside of the country, I have returned with a feeling of happiness for being home. Little by little, the wonder has come back.

As I sit here with a fragrant glass of lemongrass tea in my sun-filled living room, I look forward to 2017 with a renewed hope and optimism. I am excited to explore more of Morocco, and to leave my insecurities behind. I have my brushes and palettes assembled, ready to take to a clean, white page.

I have a lot to show you.


Avventurista said...

Nice to read from you again. All the best for 2017.

szaza said...

Thank you— all the best to you too!

dinahmow said...

I had missed you and worried that perhaps you had returned to Istanbul and were caught up in the mess.
But here you are.And happier, too. I hope this year will be a better one for us all and, if not, that we can still find the delightful.

Beth said...

We are here, waiting patiently! It's good to hear your voice, and I'm glad things are settling down to a happier tone.

szaza said...

Thank you my dears! Happy New Year!

barbara said...

Your third paragraph (all of it so I won't re-quote)has such a ring of truth and reality to it - a good way to start the new year.....because frequently life is not all rosy. Your resilience shows through though and the support of your partner and family. My immediate reaction to you being hissed at and charged more because you are a foreign woman (the nerve of you 8-)) did raise my hackles somewhat and I felt the urge to chastise such rude feckless people!!!

So happy you have found a way around these circumstances, you have been missed. Now I will go and look at your latest posted caught up in the narrative 8-).

Unknown said...


Lulu's Vintage said...

I have been checking back on your blog waiting to hear how you were doing. I was worried that something had happened since you hadn't written in so long. Glad to see that you are back at your blog! I love seeing your beautiful photographs and drawings! I hope that you have a wonderful 2017!

szaza said...

Thank you Barbara! I normally walk right by and ignore the comments. The ipod helps to not hear the majority of it!

Olá! Beijinhos :)

Hi Lulu! Thank you for thinking of me, and I wish you a fabulous new year. Hope all is well with you— it's good to hear from you!