The title is kind of bullshit. The trip to the noter isn't really Step 1 of the divorce. It's more like Step 45,000.
45,000 very, very tiny steps. A whole lot of them steps backwards but a few of them steps forward. There was that step I made in my mind a very long time ago, and even that was another series of spiralling backwards and forward steps on a narrow staircase where the lights don't always go on when they should. Then there was that huge step I took, an into-the-abyss gambling step not unlike all the other big steps I've taken in life, like quitting my job to go work on a farm, like applying for a MA program, like moving to Turkey, like getting married, like getting pregnant, like going ahead and pushing that big old hurty baby head out of me against all reason.
Then I decided to bundle up my kid way past bedtime and scuttle off to BE's parents' house to get away from what was to be the last big all-night screaming shit of a fight I no longer cared enough to participate in. And I told BE's parents I was done, and didn't spare them any details about why. Also I didn't cry, not even once.
I hadn't thought that fucker out at all, about going to his parents. It could have backfired in so many ways.
But it turned out to be a good one. The only thing that made me stop telling them everything that was going wrong was that they went from being worried about me and LE, to being angry at BE for completely sucking so much, to being so upset about the self-destructive road their boy was on, and I thought about my boy and how that must feel and I decided to call it a night.
|It's all versions of this fucking movie.|
But then I realized that the boy was no longer a baby, and that he was totally a person. A sweet, sensitive, loving, wonderful little person who didn't deserve to be dragged through my bullshit, or my crappy decisions, or my being cowed by the scary threats of an asshole. He deserved way better. And if it didn't work out, at least I tried. Not that I could wash my hands of it if it hadn't worked, but he deserved at least one heroic act. And I definitely felt like a hero in the nighttime taxi ride to BE's parents, with him wrapped in a blanket and me still wearing slippers because I'd forgotten my shoes, pretending to LE that it was a big super fun thing we were doing, suddenly taking off to Babaanne's right at bedtime because she wanted to see him so much, stroking his head to sleep and not even getting upset with the taxi driver when we got lost because I always get lost in taxis in that neighborhood. The driver knew something was up but was cool enough not to ask.
So all of that, plus finding the lawyer, plus a lot of talking and arguing and hanging up and not talking and finally, finally we reach a real step one. Official Step 1, a trip to the notary public to sign the power of attorney to open the goddamned case already.
At last, the part about the noter...
|It was nothing like this.|
If there's one thing I've learned in Turkey, it's to bring your official paper stuff, no matter how dog-eared, carefully bundled in a plastic sheath or notebook as a way of showing penitence or supplication or something. And my bundle of stuff was as neat as a pin.
One reason the noter was less scary was that they were all women there, and normal women. Not at all implacable battle axes. Plus all the papers in the office were tidily done up in binders lined up on shelves. And the office was clean.
|Looks like shit.|
And that's a thing that has been surprising all along the way about getting divorced. From MIL's breast-ripping dramatics and sobbing, you would think divorce is the most shameful, embarrassing, gawd-awful thing that could happen to someone here. You would think they were firing up the brand for the capital-letter B they were going to scar on my forehead as some sort of fallen woman. And then do the whole family afterwards, plus the tar and the feathers.
But instead, there's a lot of quiet and sad and exuberant support from the people around me. "Please, don't be alone, let us know if you need anything," said my landlord's sister-in-law, the one who deals with our flat, when I finally broke the news. "You're our little sister, let us know if we can help you with anything," said the yönetici and his wife when they had LE and I over for dinner. "Good riddance, good for you, no one needs that crap, Allah belanı versin," gold-toothed Azeri Teyze shouted out the window. Even my cleaner showed me the right way to leave the key in the inside lock so it can't be opened from the outside, once she found out my husband still has a key. Apparently, even the most errant of husbands will force their way back into the house before the 6 month legal abandonment period is up, just to avoid paying a few hundred lira a month for a wife's upkeep.
Makes me think I'm not the first one who's dealt with this shit.
So the notary dug around in her book awhile, stopping only to bang stamps on other people's stuff. She flipped through every page of my residence permit, and then flipped through again, and then finally agreed to let me do the flipping because there are an awful lot of cancellations and renewals in there. We managed to get everything filled out and data-entered and printed and checked over for mistakes. "It's a good thing you speak Turkish," she said. "Because we don't speak your language." Which was sweet but it also made me a little bit sad because why on earth should she be expected to know my language? English sometimes brings out those evil forces at work in the world, some of which decide regular people's lives for them and we don't even know about it.
After about an hour, it was all printed out in duplicate, photos affixed, and signed and signed and signed. The noter's assistant banged at least 8 stamps onto each one and passed them off the notary for a final round of signatures. "Is it fun?" I asked the assistant. She looked at me quizzically. "With the stamps, "I said. "Tak tak tak tak tak!"
She peeked to either side and passed me my papers with my receipt. "Yes," she said, smiling. "It's fun."
I tapped my papers neatly into their folder while she watched, and then thanked everyone a whole bunch of times, wishing them good day and kolay gelsin. They all waved goodbye, even some of the people waiting in line, and I was off on my merry way to get the ball rolling.
May the rest of it come as easy for us, too.