I've Been Searching for the Dolphins in the Sea...

You can see dolphins in the Marmara sea. Vapur commuters from our Island can watch them (close to Fenerbahçe is a good spot) in the mouth of the Bosphorus, against the backdrop of this high-rise city. Its quite a thrill, one of those that let you shed any constricting anxieties while you watch. For me this is something to do with working out where they will next leap into visibility. I have to relax and imagine their hidden rhythm.

We are tired. Since Neve was born five months ago, we have spent no more than a handful of days in our own home with nothing to do but look after the children. Just before my sister, with her husband and four boys, arrived (and while my brother was here) I realised I needed help or I would never get the flat clean. I turned to one of my favourite people on the Island and asked her to save me. Mrs Star (her surname is Yıldız) pops up all over the Island, doing all kinds of work. She arrived, took off her long skirts, put on jogging bottoms and wrapped her hair high in her headscarf to begin the acrobatics that is Turkish cleaning. This involves balancing on window ledges to shine the outside of high up windows and moving all kinds of furniture single-handed. Because she was fasting I asked her not to do the fridge or food cupboards (so they remain a state!) but I felt a fair amount of shame that, with my full belly, I did not have the energy to occupy two little ones and scrub the floors.

Mrs Star's two children are a very big, shining question mark that hangs over my head. They are beautiful children, gentle, thoughtful, happy. The elder (I haven't managed to work out her age but around 12 is my guess) runs a stall during the holidays selling corn. She and her brother sit through the day, and into the night, patiently waiting for customers. They swim in the small harbour, no umbrellas and sun-loungers for them. Mrs Star's children are the kind of children I want to raise, and something tells me I am going about it the wrong way. All our resources are spent on our children, Ville and I strive to cushion every bump, going without to allow every opportunity. I feel a failure if I haven't read enough stories, created enough car obstacle courses, forced myself to pretend to play. Mrs Star's children have grown up helping, understanding that their family is a project that every member must play their part in, because due to a lack of economic ease and social security, nothing can be taken for granted. I love that the family has ensured that the children have nice things, and that the children know the worth of them. I have a hope that before we leave the Island we will know that they will have the chance to fly far above their expectations.

Shortly after my sister arrived she said that Ville and I look like we have given up (don't worry we are still talking!). I think its true to say we have run out of steam for a moment. We are so used to managing with very little that we just didn't recognise how shocking our lack of material comfort might look to visitors. Actually I know that we edit it out of the story our pictures tell. Despite hundreds of pictures on Facebook there are very few showing the reality of our home. We are ashamed, we just can't fix it yet. Suddenly Hellen's photos of their holiday with us lay bare our home, the mattresses on the floor, the salvaged furniture, the miss-match of dishes. It is hard to look. And the saga of our toilet continues, it now needs knocking into place before you use it!

We may be tired but our lust for life here is so close to the surface. It will arc free soon. My friend Sophie said that you sometimes see dolphins when you need them, we decided its to do with looking. I am scanning the sea.

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