Two versions of myself?

Standing at passport control at Gatwick airport having just stepped foot onto British soil once again after 10 wonderful days in Turkey, many thoughts were whirling around my head.

12 hours beforehand I was tucked up in bed with Berkay in the apartment in Calis that we had called ‘home’ for 10 days. It felt like suddenly I was ripped out from that life and plonked down back into my other one again.

It’s very difficult to explain, unless you’ve been in that situation, but I will do my best. I have researched other people’s blogs and articles on the internet and know that it’s normal to feel this torn, like there are two different versions of myself, existing in two different countries, and that the two versions of myself rarely, if ever, cross paths.

I have the life in Turkey, the one I go back to every few months for a week and immediately switch back in to the mindset of ‘less is more’. While I’m there I’m happy to live with bare minimum, wait for hours for the solar panels to heat up the water for a shower, wash up the plates without the help of a dishwasher and walk for miles up and down the market to find a fruit or vegetable a couple of kurus cheaper than another stall. I sit on the floor eating food and drinking cay with our Turkish friends, I eat Turkish food, I embrace the culture and way of life of the Turkish people and slip right back into that mentality easily. I have someone there to wake up with, eat my dinner with, walk hand in hand with, and fall to sleep with. Life is simpler. Here in the UK I’m alone. Although I have friends and live with family, I wake up alone, go to sleep alone and more often than not eat alone due to everyone’s busy schedules. I travel to work alone, walk at lunchtime alone, and my only contact with Berkay is through a facebook message or skype conversation every now and then. I walk into a supermarket and spend £1 on a packet of 6 tomatoes and think nothing of it, if I want something I buy it, and I succumb to the more materialistic way of life. I sit up the dinner table and eat ready meals, I put my plates in the dishwasher and take advatange of the fact I can take a shower at any time of day I want and there will be hot water. It’s a different life, and I am a undoubtedly different person.

My two lives rarely cross paths. Berkay hasn’t visited the UK for 2 years, my family haven’t seen him for 2 years either. Although they’re very supportive and acknowledge him, he’s not a part of my everyday life and to them I’m just ‘Dan’, I’m not ‘Dan and Berkay’ here. Christmas and special occasions are always when I notice it most, when his name is missing off the cards… In the UK I’m basically a single person, in Turkey we exist together.

When I knew Berkays army leaving date and I had booked my flight, I was worried about returning to Turkey, having not been there for nearly 10 months. I’d settled into the UK version of me, the version of me who has money and a job and a fairly solitary life. I was afraid of going back and worried if I’d still appreciate Fethiye as much as before. As soon as I got off the plane and into the car with Berkay it was like I’d never been away. We visited our friends and it was like I’d just seen them last week, not 10 months beforehand. When I arrived back in the UK I sat around a dinner table in a restaurant with my family and it was like a totally different version of myself, not quite 100% present, almost like an out of body experience from the outside looking in. When I got into bed the night I arrived back in the UK I had to seriously lay down and think if the previous 10 days had actually been ‘real life’ or a dream. Looking back at photos I thought to myself ‘was I really there just 24 hours ago, sat on that balcony with Berkay?’ because it felt so surreal once I was sat back in my room in England and existing as the ‘other Danni’ once again.

It’s entirely bizarre, and I’m aware that this post makes me sound slightly crazy – I’m not. I’m sure everyone experiences this on some level when they return from a holiday or travelling, but this is more than that. I had a life in both countries for a long time, and I still do, I spent most of my adult life living in Turkey. I have friends, family and a part of me in both countries. I guess that makes me lucky, although sometimes I really wish it wasn’t the case and that life were simpler. Although physically my body is only in one place at a time, my head is always split between the two countries, and it’s really mentally exhausting.

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” ― Miriam Adeney.

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Two Separate lives?

Since I’ve been back from Turkey in this last week, it has never been more apparent to me that I am living two separate lives. One life here, one life there in Turkey, and the two rarely, if ever, cross over.  It’s quite an unsettling feeling, being pulled in both directions, feeling ties to both countries and never really feeling at peace or at home. This is my favourite quote and one that I feel will stick with me for a long time.

“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart always will be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” ― Miriam Adeney.

It’s 100% true and goes a little way to describing how I feel on a daily basis. Not only are me and Berkay currently living very separate, polar opposite lives, which thankfully is only temporary, but I’m also having an internal battle within myself, one that I think shall go on forever, whichever country we end up settling in.

I have friends and family in the UK, and friends and family in Turkey. The two have never met. My family has never met Berkay’s family and I doubt they ever will because neither really has the desire to meet the other, and even if they did, communication would be non-existant. This is always going to be awkward, because neither really has any idea how the other lives, and their lives are so totally different that any reunion would end up being like a terrible version of “meet the Fockers” or that Turkish film ‘ay lav yu’ (watch it, it’s hilarious).

The lifestyles I myself live in both countries is so different, it’s like I have two different lives, two different personalities, two different homes. In Turkey I rely on Berkay for a lot of things, he pays the bills, we do the shopping together, we visited friends together, got on the bus together… in fact when I lived there there were times where I’d go days or weeks without having a conversation with another person face to face (apart from Berkay, of course). This didn’t bother me, at all. We done everything together, I hardly ever went out alone, and I liked that. Here in the UK its the total opposite. I have to do things for myself, I’m always alone, travelling on the train, bus, going to the shop, buying things, I’m in a house surrounded by people but outside these 4 walls I’m alone, and that takes some getting used to after so long.

The whole mentality of people here in the UK is different – want something, buy it. Throughout my time living in Turkey I learnt not to be this way, I wasn’t fussed about the latest gadget, I wasn’t the slightest bit ‘into’ fashion and I really never bought things to treat myself, I don’t need to, nor want to. Being back in the UK though, I can sometimes feel the urge to splurge and waste money on stupid things, I find myself falling back into this habit, one I didn’t have for so long. For example, the other day I spent £9.50 on 3 bottles of fancy shampoo. At Today’s exchange rate this is nearly 40tl. When we were in Turkey, we’d walk to the furthest, cheapest supermarket and search the shelf for the cheapest bottle. Here I went online, ordered a ridiculously expensive one and had it delivered. A moment of madness, although my hair is thanking me because it smells amazing.

The most difficult thing I’ve faced since coming back, is learning how to fit in again, and it’s really not very easy at all. I spent 19 years of my life here, It should feel like home, right? It doesn’t. You see, I’ve spent such a long time away from home, from family, from friends, that when it comes to sitting around a dinner table with them it feels weird, like I’m an outsider looking in, that’s the best way I can explain it. I’ve been back in the UK for over 4 months and that hasn’t really changed. These people, friends and family, who were once all I knew, are now so distant from me because they can’t comprehend the life I had in Turkey, for them it was all one big holiday, they only saw my life through the photos I posted online and the things I told them, last year none of my family visited me in Turkey, and my friends never have, they never saw my house there, the things I saw and walked past everyday, the places I went, the things that were a part of my everyday life, and somehow that makes me feel very distant from them.

In Turkey, everyone sees us as ‘Dan & Berkay’ – we lived together, had a life together. The last time Berkay was in the UK was April last year, 2014. That was the last time he saw any of my family, so I guess for them instead of ‘Dan & Berkay’ they simply see me as just ‘Dan’, this was particularly evident at Christmas when I got cards addressed just to me. “Why don’t they write Berkay too?” I kept asking myself, it’s not their fault though, it’s a habit. He’s not here, not a part of my life in the UK so why would they include him?

Everything is different, from the places I go, to the people I see and even the food I eat. Walking in supermarkets is always a weird one for me. I remember moving back here from Turkey and going to Asda with my mum, I was totally overwhelmed by everything on the shevles that I hadn’t seen for months, years. Cadburys chocolate, British brands, salad pre washed, cut and in a packet. The same thing happened this time when I went back to Turkey and walked around Migros. Things that you’d never consider have a way of making you reminisce. “Aww, we used to use that washing powder. Oooo look, remember this drink? Oh, we used to buy that rice.” Really, really weird things that just jump out at you and say “this was your life once”.

When I got off that plane at Dalaman 2 weeks ago and walked out through the exit doors, I immediately became ‘Turkey Danni’ again, rather than ‘England Danni’, I once again had Berkay by my side doing the daily chores, going shopping together and walking hand in hand. I once again saw all the familiar places and faces I once saw everyday, and it was like I’d never been away. We went to friend’s houses for tea and they welcomed us with open arms and full glasses. We visited places we used to go to every week, the market, the beach, Fethiye. Then, a week later,  I got back on the plane, landed, turned the key in the front door, walked upstairs to my bedroom, unpacked and became ‘England Danni’ again. It’s truely bizarre, and really quite sad.

It’s something that will never really go away, I’ll always have ties to both the UK, and Turkey. Berkay will too. At one point in the future, one of us is going to have to ‘give up’ one of our countries, and both of us will no doubt miss something from whichever country we’re not in. Any future children we have will also be torn between the two countries, both sets of grandparents, families, lifestyles. As the quote above says, this is the price we pay.

Would I change it though? No way.