A Most Consequential Meeting
The main theme of Milan Kundera’s book, Life is Elsewhere, is the notion that the grass is always greener on the other side of the street. That is, that we might be happier someplace else instead of the place we actually are. I live in İstanbul but the circumstances around how I came to be here are much more complicated than simple discontent with my life in Canada. In fact, if I hadn’t met my friend Carol in Florida on March break when we were sixteen, I probably wouldn’t be living here at all.
Fate or Destiny?
Meeting Carol was the event that set the wheel of my personal fate turning. We met in a camper trailer park and hit it off, getting drunk together and exchanging addresses. That could have been it but we kept in touch throughout high school, only losing contact when we both started university and moved away from home. Years later while going through a box of old letters, I came across a bunch from Carol. Many of them were decorated with moons and stars in reference to a pair of moon and star earrings that I had given her years earlier during a visit she had made to my hometown, the Sault. Long story short, I wrote her a new letter and mailed it to her home address. It was forwarded to Carol, who was teaching English in Japan, by her mom. Our correspondence resumed – fourteen years after our last communication. In the end, Carol started working in Turkey and convinced me to come here after I had finished university and was feeling at a loose end. We next met up at a customs port in Çeşme, Turkey under the moon and star of a Turkish flag. It seemed like our destiny to be together.
A Twist in the Road
However, that was not to be the case. Carol still is one of my best friends but a romantic relationship between us was not in the cards. Instead, I fell in love with this beautiful country and then a year later I met my future wife. We were married in 1997 and two years later our son, Emre James, was born. I believe that life is like a long corridor with many doors and every time you open one door, new opportunities arrive, while other possibilities disappear. If I hadn’t met Carol, I may never have come to Turkey, and I almost certainly wouldn’t have met my wife and fathered our lovely son. In fact, before reconnecting with Carol, I had planned to go to Italy, studying Italian and Art History for three years in university with the aim of getting a job in Venice, Italy at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum there. And yet, after all that effort, I decided to come to Turkey to practice teaching for a year. That was 28 years ago. So I ask you, was it fate or destiny?