Some years ago, many years ago, I traveled with my daughter and then husband to Turkey. I remembered it for years, or chose not to remember it, as a trip that was fraught with problems: the car breaking down, horrible intestinal infections, petty thefts, and worst of all, marital strife in the form of raging arguments or stubborn silences that lasted for days, all in the most gorgeous places. It should have been the trip of a lifetime. Not the usual tourist circuit down the Aegean coast, but a month-long drive that took us all through Anatolia to the Iranian border, and the Soviet border, and all along the fog-shrouded Black Sea. I remember waking in some town, it could have been Trabzun, or Giresun, I don’t recall, and realizing that I was a married woman, and had been married for only four months, and was deeply unhappy. Was it my expectations that had been too high? Was I clinically depressed for some reason – the strangeness of the country, the constant moving, the uncertainty of the future?
For my most recent birthday I was given a magic box that converts old slides and negatives to digital photographs. For the last four months I have been patiently traveling back through time and revisiting my school years, my first boyfriends, my grown niece and nephews as children, countries as diverse as Norway and Greece and Russia. Today I came upon a box of slides: Anatolia 1986.
Of all the photos I have seen over these months, and there have been hundreds, none have been so strangely moving and beautiful as these shots of Turkey. Granted, the country is beautiful, and I found the people, especially the children, extraordinarily photogenic. But I did not expect to find so many pictures, nearly an entire roll, of near-perfect shots, at least for an amateur like myself, speaking so eloquently of some strange process that was going on despite my anger and sadness and depression. Perhaps I channeled all my unhappiness into my camera lens. I am glad I have been able to preserve something, for otherwise I might have felt there was a hole in my life. Instead, it was a shutter that took twenty-five years to close.