On finding your tribe

Normally, Agent L likes to keep the tone light, but my lord she’s had a helluva couple of weeks, and last night Hannah said something that was so profound, so insightful, she feels she has to share.

We were discussing the many challenges that face a mixed relationship- i.e. a relationship between a Turk and a yabancı. Mostly cause we’ve had a very sad and stressful week watching just such a relationship fall apart. As Western and modern as Istanbul is, it’s really easy to forget sometimes how vast the cultural differences can be. In my two and a half years here I’ve watched many couple friends struggle with what turn out to be completely different expectations about and even definitions of a healthy relationship. Often a couple will discover that not only do they literally not share a common language, they don’t even share an emotional language.

“With the going out thing, you know how she’s upset that he wants to go out with his friends, why he doesn’t want to spend more time with the family, you know, what she doesn’t understand is that we are here thousands and thousands of miles from our families and most of our friends. If something happens, and stuff DOES happen, we don’t have the support networks that they have. For us, our friends become our families. They have to. When we’re saying, ‘I’m hanging out with my friends tonight,’ it’s the same as them saying, ‘I’m hanging out with my sister tonight.'”

“My god, you’re right.”

“She sees it as some frivolous thing- oh you’re just going to the bar and drinking. Or even as a threatening thing, you know. Gasp! There’ll be other girls there!”

“Christ. Another issue entirely.”

“Tell me about it. But it actually is this incredibly vital part of our lives here. We meet our friends at pubs, keep the connections going. We have to. We absolutely have to foster that sense of community because we don’t have the net, here. Even our families aren’t the same as the typical Turkish family. Our families tend to be much less involved in our lives, much less supportive. They can’t fathom what it is to be actually alone here.”

“Hannah, you’re so smart. I’m glad you’re in my tribe.”

This entry was posted in Drinking, Ex-pat, Istanbul, Yabancı life and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to On finding your tribe

  1. pdperrich says:

    You should write a book on how to be an expat parent. And then a sequal on how to encourage your parent to become an expat.

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