There is a toy shop in Istanbul called Aladdin’s where a red headed woman with deep coat pockets steals candies from the plastic sweet boxes stacked against the wall. The counter man, Emir, does not stop her. He watches her think hands walk her fingers under the plastic lids and pull out gummy frogs, and chocolate balls. Her nails torn, and ragged, the kind you get from zipping and unzipping too many suitcases for travel to special hospitals.
Distributing them on the streets to the after-school boys running home from soccer practice. Last year they were her son’s friends, but now he is too ill to have friends, a child’s mind is short on memory. He lays in bed on the top floor of their building with a view of the sky.
Emir does not stop her from stealing the candy because she is beautiful, or he can see the lingering sense of beauty around her eyes. She is still beautiful for the moment. Probably when she is ugly he will stop her. His boss wouldn’t understand then. Right now, she is beautiful and sad. When she becomes only sad, he will have to ask her to stop. But maybe that won’t happen, he thinks.
My friend Ezra say, “Issss-taaanbul is like putting New York inside of Los Angeles. Super crowded. Shitty traffic. And thanks to Instagram, now we all eat kale.”
She studied philosophy. Used to teach but now runs a vintage shop. Her desk in the middle of the shop, flanked by a torso mannequin with an aging matador’s jacket and an enormous oversized teddy bear whose face is all wonky from way too much love.
“There’s no room for philosophers right now, except maybe in the corners. But there is always business in the shifting of objects.
When I visit, we push together a pair of filing cabinets, lay down a table cloth of newspaper and eat together. She rips off the leg from a roasted chicken for me, I break the bread. We dunk squares of sugar into our tea. We discuss life.
Ezra says: “I think your problem is a common problem. Confusing the desire to be healed with the idea to be whole. We are whole for maybe a very short amount of time, when we are very, very young. We’re perfect. But we can’t do much. We can’t walk, we can’t talk, we can’t make things.
“Mostly we pass our time in life breaking apart. We fall in love, that person says I don’t love us anymore and we break apart. We have a business, economy collapses, we break apart. It’s good. We are not supposed to be always the same. That would be completely boring.
“The problem comes when we chase after the broken pieces. But we’re always somehow in slow motion when we try that. Like the astronaut who in space lets go of his breakfast spoon and has to go after, but there’s no gravity…ahhhh!
“Healed looks different from being whole. Fuck, I don’t know…but, I think you’re unhappy because you think, I don’t recognize myself. I want to be who I was before. But come on! if you have broken your cage, you’re free. Why tape it back together? It doesn’t suit anymore. The objects in my shop do not suit anymore the people who had them. That is ok. You let it go.”