I arrived in Turkey around 10 pm local time and reached my final destination around midnight. No one saw me but my Director who picked me up from the airport and the driver who dropped us off at my apartment.
Settled and ready for a much needed rest after 20 hours of travel, my Director, before leaving informed me that he would return again tomorrow to pick me up and take me out to lunch with the other Directors.
“11:30,” he said.
Naturally, the next morning when the doorbell rang at 11 am, I was quite startled and unprepared. Opening the door, still dressed in pajamas his ‘Girl, I know you ain’t wearing that’ look was the perfect excuse I needed to indicate the 30 minute premature arrival.
I anticipated some frustration on his part, but got none.
There was relief and gratitude when he decided to return in 45 minutes.
On our way to, I was now eager to see what the night darkness had denied me the privilege of seeing when I had arrived early that morning. The charm and the beauty of the city was apparent: surrounded by desert mountains that strikingly resembled the landscape of the Scotland District of Barbados, I knew that I was no longer in Kansas.
The only immediate negative that could be witnessed was the number of cars, especially in relation to the narrow streets, typical of another era. There were too many and with that not enough parking spaces.
So, we drove around and luckily came upon a driver leaving a parallel space, which my Director skillfully negotiated with one swing of the wheel.
My Director who was perhaps the most polite man I had ever met, waited patiently for me on the sidewalk as I negotiated my way out my side of the car, which was boxed in by the curb.
During the minute or so that it took me to get out, I had lost view of my surroundings, which was, at the time of parking, a beautiful bustling street full of people.
As I closed the door, taking one last look at my reflection in the car window just to make sure everything (clothes, lip gloss etc) was in place, I was not prepared for what would happen next.
I would have preferred the cinematic clap of thunder and lightning bolt any day over the stares, shocked faces, silence and sudden paralysis of some pedestrians signaling that there was something different about me.
I swear, it was if time had stood still for me.
I had been forewarned by some about this possibility but I, being born an identical twin, was used to the double takes and pointing and staring my entire life. I thought that it would be no big deal.
But of course those reactions were for a natural anomaly, for which, up until then, I did not know being black was one too.
I kept my composure and so my own shock at their reaction was not evident.
This reaction continued for the five minutes it took to walk to the restaurant.
It ended upon meeting the Mudur and quite surprisingly the Governor of the city. Their initial reaction to me, which was to acknowledge and engage as me as human, was warm, which continued throughout our lunch together.
Not black. Not female. Not Western. Not #Caribbean.