I’ve reached Ankara now and am staying with my friend Kenan. Ankara is the site of my “almost move” a year and a half ago. It’s the dusty, dry Turkish capitol with a characteristically Turkish politic. Few tourists come here much. There’s not a whole lot to see past embassy row and a historically marginal castle and I feel lucky to have Kenan and his friends to make it an unskippable destination.
Shortly after finishing college I came here to stay with Kenan and figure out whether I could live here. I knew it wasn’t for the scenery, but part of me enjoyed the genuine commitment one must have to live in a place as unromantic as this. I sought out English teaching jobs, the most obvious possible work opportunities for foreigners here, and struggled with the reality of what living here might be like. The smarmy director I spoke with at one school offering me a teaching position, a New Zealander who had left home to backpack and never came back, painted a surprisingly romantic picture of cheap living and endless freedom as an expat. Somehow it was as if the world he described, living as a foreigner in a different culture, meant less accountability and commitment to the people around you.
Coming back, I am so glad I left that English school and never went back. Kenan is an English teacher himself and I visited his class the other day. As I spoke with his class and glimpsed the life I could have lead, I know I am freer now that I have committed to myself to a different world. I am freer now that I have worked some things out with my family. Freer now that I have sought God’s direction in my life. I am free to appreciate my friend here as a more balanced visitor than a rudderless vagabond.
Now I just have to be patient for what unfolds next.