I imagine the small changes, the minuscule differences, will be completely different for each person. I ended up completely adjusting to the custom of taking my shoes off before entering a house, but that prohibition hasn’t stuck with me back in New Jersey. Instead, truly, it is the simple things that I miss so much.
Not the simple things as mentioned in the song above – The Simple Things, a song from Hey, Arnold! I don’t really find myself missing french fried onion rings or spicy chicken wings, not that I ever ate those much to begin with. Instead, I miss the feeling of belonging to a small community I had achieved in Malatya. For example, almost every Sunday my neighbors and I would walk down the hill to the neighborhood bakery where we’d have a freshly made kebab brunch.
Everyone in the bakery – from the woman who worked the cash register, to the old teyzes who made the baked goods to the men who worked the grill would smile when we would walk in and exchange pleasantries with us. One man, Yıldız, in particular would have long conversations with us about whatever was on his mind. Even during his breaks, if he saw us come in, he would jump up, exclaiming “oh oh oh!” and run over to shake our hands and ask us how we were. It’s these simple things I find myself missing.
The local grocery store was much the same. The man who worked the fruit section, as well as the dairy seller, were always overjoyed to see me, relishing the chance to talk about soccer and how we shared the same favorite team. These simple things, the feeling of being a regular and belonging somewhere, is magical. I feel like this is often something missing here in New Jersey; or at least I haven’t found it.