Thursday, 23 September 2010

Turkish delights

Lovely Boy's and my trip to Turkey was The Best Holiday. Undoubtedly this was aided by the fact that before we left things for both of us were collectively pretty shite so anywhere with alcohol and sunshine would have seemed heaven-sent. But even sans context, especially sans Luton Airport departure, LB's and my trip to Turkey was The BEST Holiday. I'd even go so far as to say ever.

There's something to be said for a sudden change in environment and the relocation from hectic, chilly, misery-inducing London to hot, sunny, breezy Kalkan was a slap in the face in the form of a warm, embracing hug.

Turkey charmed the pants off us. The hotel we were staying at had guests who'd been returning for a decade and it wasn't hard to see why, with fabulous staff and jaw-dropping views of Kalkan old town, and the hospitality we encountered everywhere made us feel like new best friends or long lost old ones with everyone we met. The fact that every restauranteur addressed us collectively and repeatedly as "Lovely couple" also didn't hurt.

We had seven days of hand-in-hand wandering, gourmet food, cocktails and swimming at some of the most beautiful beaches and it was resolutely a relaxing holiday. Even before I decided that I hated art and history and culture and everything intellectually stimulating we had agreed that this would be a holiday on a holiday. I even had LB in the habit of afternoon naps by the time the end of the week rolled around...

Our days were spent swimming, dozing and reading. Our evenings were spent at rooftop restaurants with warm breezes, pink wines and views over the harbour. Even the excessive Celine Dion soundtracks couldn't dint the ambience, try though it might.

There were some exquisite highlights. We had one day at Caretta Beach Club, a totally fabulous little place cut into the cliffs out along the bay from our hotel. Think sun beds, sun bed service, large pillows and a floating pontoon out in the ocean. We had another day at Kaputas Beach, down in a big gorge that just spat out into the sea. Now I have swum in some breath-taking places before - Spiaggia della Pelosa in Sardinia certainly comes to mind - but even with the hardarse pebbles at Kaputas I've never swum in water so blue that even when you're in it the colour remains so vibrant. It was honestly like swimming in bright blue paint - but arguably more refreshing. It was just gleeful.

And then there was our last full day. LB, in a bid to find one swimming hole not wracked with pebbles, insisted on a trip to Patara Beach - 18km of assured white sand. And so we went. Me, LB, my freckles and enough factor 50+ to slather the entire navy. We had a guy one evening say that he could tell it was our first night in Kalkan by the colour of our skin. I didn't have the heart to tell him it was our fourth, or that I would be going home this colour. But I digress.

So we went to Patara. We had our sun beds, we had our umbrellas and I had my complex about being hideously ugly in such brutal natural light with its neon-esque effect on my freckles. Basically, I was nothing less than a joy to be with.

LB wanted to go for a walk along the beach. I really didn't. LB said he thought it would be fun and that we could get away from all the people. I said I didn't mind the people. LB said, I would really like to go for a walk and it would mean a lot to me if you came too. So me, my guilt, my freckles and LB went for a walk. And yes, it was beautiful and the scenery - natural and not so natural...

... was highly memorable. Once we were away from all the people and the matching leopard print we stopped and LB turned to me and I honestly thought, uh-oh here comes my talking to. And this was what he said: "You need to stop being so mean about yourself because I think you're beautiful." And then this is what he did: he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

If it was a diversionary tactic to stop me thinking about my freckles it sure as hell worked because I sure as hell said yes. And so LB has been promoted. To LBB. Lovely Betrothed Boy.

The rest of the day was a blur of giggles and perma-smiles and funny looks and a feeling of contented exhilaration unlike anything I've ever felt before. Being betrothed is, frankly, awesome.

And after an afternoon of phone calls and text messages, LBB and I took to the old town for our last dinner and, in a serendipitous sign, had the best meal of the entire trip. Delicious food, fabulous view, jaw-dropping old building. It was truly special.

Getting back to London the next night was something of a mission and we finally got in the door close to 3am, startling our house guests who were expecting us at the same time the following night. Exhaustion (and current possible throat infection) aside, being back in London feels ok, great even if I think about two of my dearest friends now living here (said startled house guests) but it has been so heart-warming to experience the joy of all our family and friends at the Big News.

And as for the utterly beautiful antique ring on my finger, that we found at Gray's Antique Market, well words can't do it justice - but my much improved touch typing skills are certainly testament to its distracting, eye-catching ability.

Love is indeed in the air and on my finger and sitting next to me on the sofa. All that's missing is some baklava. Screw the job.

The post too big for a title


That there is the line I've drawn underneath all and everything that has happened in the last two months. There's been a litany of reasons for my fall into this most epic of writing black holes and I'd be lying if I said sitting down to write now, after two months of barely an email, is easy. It's oddly a physical challenge as much as a psychological one and pushing past all the rejection and self-confidence issues that have overwhelmed me lately feels like pushing over a wall of concrete in order to stagger up a really steep hill. But because I've drawn a line and because I'm now needing to write in order to move forward I'll neatly summise the two key events that kneecapped me and then, well, draw another line:

- First: an email from the editor at an unnamed art magazine telling me my writing style was "too broadsheet for the particular kind of art journalism they were looking for." With the kicker: "but I'm not saying no-one will ever publish your work." This is the first time I've written since receiving that email and I still feel sick and ashamed and a bit beaten.

- Then: a successful job application that lead to what even I, in my most pathetically self-doubting moments, know was a good interview.... only to then have to chase the HR department to confirm that I didn't get the job and for the kind of lame reason that says "Oh no,we never intended to hire you. We already had someone lined up for the job but, because that looks incredibly dodgy, we had to waste the time and efforts - oh and emotional energy - of a bunch of strangers to legitimate what we'd already decided before we put the job ad out." It doesn't matter this was only the second interview I've managed to get in nine months or the fact I was born to do this job.

I was destroyed. Flattened. Defeated. I may have even been sobbing in an alleyway off Kings Road with snot running down my face. I was then and still rather am now just a tad exhausted. But the beautiful thing about getting to emotional ground zero, particularly in the department of all things career, is that you can't then get any lower. And once you get used to the cold, hard, dark ground on which you lie, and once you exhaust the tears and once the deafening voices in your head that scream "YOU ARE A FAILURE" simmer to a low hum, well, that cold, hard, dark ground becomes cool and peaceful. And the solitary nature of this place becomes somewhere to retreat, a place to accept and just be, a place to consider new options, re-consider old ones and to just clock out for a while on the whole "what is the meaning of my life/what can I contribute to the world/do I have any value/will I ever earn more than £7 an hour" head fuck that has been my intellectual reality for way too long now.

With confidence broken, opportunities lost and hope missing like a favourite sentimental earring, well, it's a good time to just stop. And then, slowly, begin again. And/or go to Turkey.