A Conversation In Istanbul


The sun is setting over Istanbul. There is a mysterious glow rising from the city.
We are sitting on the roof of the Four Seasons Bosphorus, which was formerly a prison.
The call to prayers can be heard echoing around the closing of the day.
A slight chill has settled in over the roof top. The young server brings us a soft warm fleece throw. We tuck it around our knees and cuddle close on the soft couch.
The Turkish red wine is rich and smooth. And for a moment it seems the whole world is quiet.
I can see a couple on their rooftop terrace. They are sipping small cups of Turkish coffee. I wonder how they will sleep after that?

To my right is a famous bar called Seven Mountains. We ventured over there earlier. The view from the bar is spectacular, but it is crowded and very noisy.

A young woman sits beside us. Greeting us and asking about the warm throw.
She is from Philadelphia. We chat about our home origins and why we are in the city. She is a buyer for a major retailer in the United States. Textiles and rugs she explains.

She has been traveling through Turkey and Morocco finding small family rug makers. Purchasing one-of-a-kind rugs for her company. She tells me of her travels to a remote Moroccan village. Her voice is soft as she explains the process of purchasing and shipping the unique rugs.
We talk a of a buying budget, shipping cost and an online business versus a tradition store.

I tell her of my background as a buyer for 15 years.

The couple behind us interrupts, “We could not help but overhear, we are here selling jewelry designs”. They were from India, but live in Shanghai.
They had a stunning collection of jewels, several of which she is wearing.

Our conversation turns to our families, as it often does when women meet.
The young woman from Philly tells us she is tired of being aways from her two children. One only 8 months old and she has been gone for three weeks…
“I want to quit work”, she confides.  “I feel home sick for my children.”

The sky is dark now, and we can hardly see each other.

“Really,” she continues, “if I quit, I am not sure I will be better as a mother at home. I never seem to find balance. I am always off the deep end”.

I laugh, “we are the same all over the world, we never think we are quite doing it right.”

The Indian woman joins the giggling,
“I just said to my husband today how guilty I feel about being here with him and meeting this buyer. But you know what? The children are really completely fine for a few days. It’s all me.”

“How old are your children?” she asks me.

I reply, “older then you are, I am sure. 38 and 33.”

We all burst out laughing.

I stand up to go. Realizing how quiet our husbands have been.

“Ladies, I am older and I will say this quickly. I will probably never see either of you again in my life. I am sure of one thing. Life is finite, and time is a gift. A gift to our children, to ourselves. Be sure of who you are.”

I leave my blanket and go downstairs.
“This is why we travel”, I say to David.

This is exactly it.

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1 Comment

  • Emmy Lawton October 27, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Great words of wisdom, Susan! And the courage to share them with others.

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