Really? Never?

I’ve spent the past couple of months processing my trip home to Canada this summer and have mixed feelings about the title of Thomas Wolfe’s posthumously published final novel. On the one hand, I love my adopted country, Turkey, and can’t imagine going back to live in my homeland. On the other, when I do visit and reunite with family and friends, I feel like things haven’t skipped a beat and  we have just seen each other the day before. Conversations and friendships assume their familiar patterns and I feel embraced and comfortable. I really am blessed to have such relationships.

No Escaping Change

 “We shall not cease from exploration/ And the end of all our exploring/ Will be to arrive where we started/ And know the place for the first time.” –from Little Gidding by T.S. Elliot

It seems clear that  what Wolfe and Eliot meant  is that  travel changes us and through that change our whole world  becomes transformed…we are not the same as we were in the past so we see the world – including our original homelands – from an entirely different perspective. I’m not so sure. Yes, experience changes us and provides perspective. Mine has certainly changed  due to my travels and my experience as an immigrant in a foreign country. Despite this, I like to feel that I’m the same outgoing, friendly guy that I’ve always been. My social democratic ideals were formed by growing up in a steel town. My love of art and literature were nurtured by relatives and teachers in my early environment. The contention  that travelers change seems to condescendingly imply that all who remain live dull, uneventful lives. But in the words of Lao Tsu, “Without going outside, you may know the whole world.” One doesn’t have to travel the world to experience changes. Getting married and having children changes us, as does switching jobs, moving house, divorce, illness, the passing of loved ones and a thousand other things. In fact, the only unchanging thing about life is change itself. No one is immune from change.

There’s No Place Like Home, But…

Personally, I love my trips home and the return to the familiar. Seeing all my dear friends, relatives, and family, visiting the Toronto Islands, staying out at camp around the Sault, buying the best butter pecan tarts and maple fudge from my favorite shops there…I could go on and on. And then filling my luggage with all my most cherished Canadian treats before returning to Istanbul: cans of maple syrup, boxes of Kraft dinner, packets of spicy curry pastes, etc.  However, Turkey has spoiled me in many ways and I find I’m not used to the cold lakes, cool Canadian summer nights and mosquitoes anymore. I long for the warm humid air of Turkey. The beauty of the Bosphorus. The ease of getting around on buses, ferries, and metros in this fascinating, dynamic, crowded city of 17 million. I’ll always be proud of where I come from but Istanbul is home to me now.


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Michael Wray

Hi, My name's Michael. I'm a writer/illustrator working as a primary ESL teacher in Istanbul. I love art, music, literature, and traveling.


  1. Carrie Griswold on October 9, 2022 at 4:14 pm

    Fantastic read as always !

    • Lois Kinghorn on October 9, 2022 at 4:57 pm

      Glad you are happy Mike.

    • Michael on October 9, 2022 at 6:46 pm

      Thank you, Carrie. 😉

      • Steven Pattison on October 11, 2022 at 5:58 pm

        Interesting thoughts on the idea of “home”. I was thinking earlier today about the U.S. as my possible home and what different relationships that you, Emre and myself have with that country.

        • Michael on October 12, 2022 at 5:07 am

          Thanks for reading, Steve.

  2. Brian hunt on October 9, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    I enjoyed this read Mike. Well done.

  3. Judy Wray on October 9, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    Love your blogs

  4. Steven Pattison on October 11, 2022 at 6:02 pm

    Interesting thoughts on the idea of “home”. I was thinking earlier today about the U.S. as my possible home and what different relationships that you, Emre and myself have with that country.

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