Creative Non-Fiction Short Stories. :) Travel, Oldsters, Love, and Compassion.
The clerks at the market wear the same black polo shirts, the same nametags, the same gazes up from where they sit to where customers stand. When it is my turn, my clerk asks if I have their shopper’s card. I answer, “Yok.” (A situational version of no. They have versions of no. Heaven help me.) And she grins so much that I feel I’ve made a mistake with just a single word. So I ask, using the formal conjugations through we are the same age, if I’ve answered the question correctly. I don’t have the shopper’s card, so I should say, “Yok”? She is smiling so much I think even my question is somehow off the mark. She assures me–in her native tongue, but loudly and slowly–that I am correct. I tell her with a sigh that I keep trying to learn Turkish and she nods, “Because of marriage?”
I blush, “No!” She laughs. It is hard for me to say why I have been learning this language, why I have been so calmly and humiliatingly keeping at it. It is hard for me to communicate why I am choosing to be somewhere that I cannot communicate, but where every small victory seems so large. I can’t tell her it is the challenges, the folk singers, the immigrants I met in Vienna, or one completely impossible love story. These are not things you can say at a grocery store when you’re not even certain that you said “Yok” properly.
“No,” I explain, “No, because–because I am learning.”
This also makes her laugh, yet she finally understands. Next time, I will endeavor the shopper’s card application. I can’t promise, but I will.