Every once in a while, life puts you in the middle of a group of people that may as well be from another planet. This weekend, I took Baki to his school’s annual weekend away event. It was held at one of these all-inclusive resort hotels. Being in Antalya, we are actually surrounded by such places, but they are easy to avoid, and I have never actually gone to one. Well, that was the first disorienting experience of the weekend. Going to one of these hotels is sort of like going to a hospital or getting on a plane — that is how connected I felt to the world at large. Very weird. There are these mile long buffets and pools attached to pools, seemingly necessary facilities like tennis courts and the “mini-club” all attached to one another by labyrinthine pathways, and guys driving around in golf carts taking care of it all.
I had gotten a ride with my neighbor, whose daughter is also in the first grade and great pals with Baki. When we got there, the place was already screaming with kids. Baki merged with the seething crowd effortlessly and threw himself into having as much fun as possible. I did not fare so well. I guess I have become inflexible and anti-social, but I felt awkward among the parents. I ended up in the company of one mom who loved to talk, but really had only two channels — brag and complain. Of course, I was not very entertaining myself, stuck as I was on listen, so I had no one but myself to blame, but gradually the whole thing was making me feel like going to bed and hiding there. The kids were all really well dressed, from the grade schoolers down to the babies, and my boys were scruffy, drooly things. I was in the company of baby girls in sequins here.
Just as things were looking super grim, a friend called me up, having no idea where I was. It was such a relief to hear a friendly voice, someone who spoke my language. It was like coming up for air, and it gave me the push I needed to get through the rest of it.
I brought Baki to this weekend thingy because he never gets to go to birthday parties or play dates since we go to the garden on the weekend. I realized though that there has to be a better way to nurture his social life than to throw him into this barely contained chaos once a year. Instead of wholesale socializing, I think it is time to grit my teeth and try to make some friends among the moms and dads. There have to be at least a few people I can see eye to eye with behind all those designer sunglasses.
Our mountainside garden may not have many people in or around it, but I have never felt lonely there. The plants that I have grown from seed, the trees that I have dug deep holes for, the chickens that control the grasshopper population, the wind in the tall pines, these are all my constant companions up there, so that even if I am the only person in the garden, I am never alone. I’ll tell you, after this weekend, I feel so lucky to have it.