Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Divorce Step 3: Anticlimactic! But Cool!

So yeah, I just mentioned all offhandedly and shit in my last post that the long-awaited court date for our divorce had suddenly arrived.

This is something that happens a lot in Turkey. You wait wait wait wait wait wait wait wait for something to happen, getting all stressed and worried about it. And I was getting worried, seeing as I have a conference out of town this week, an upcoming move, and the days before the judges all fuck off for summer holidays are ticking closer and closer. The things you're waiting for always have the potential of not fitting into your schedule. But then, after weeks of waiting, the thing you were waiting for suddenly and with little fanfare gets finished.

That's what getting divorced was like. Lucky for me, getting divorced fit nicely into my work schedule. We were in exams week, and I had no classes or exams scheduled for that day. I'd planned to spend the morning pacing around the house trying to figure out what one wears to a divorce, but instead spent the morning making Mother's Day lotion with a friend. Best plan ever. Making lotion is super-fun, and a good, sympathetic friend who acts like you're not going completely insane also helps. We listened to Jamiroquai and hardly made a mess at all and I actually only spent a half hour or so getting dressed. Or maybe it was more. I wouldn't know.

When it came time to go get divorced, I walked down to the minibus like I always do, and got on, avoiding the seat with a big step under it, and listened to music on my iPhone. Acoustic Sublime. I know, right? And I rode that to the metrobus which stops conveniently in front of the new courthouse.

Only in Turkish, it's not the courthouse. Courthouse sounds all quaint and friendly, with pillars and wisteria. In Turkish, it's the Palace of Justice, which sounds like the place superheroes convene to decide how best to fight bad guys and mete out justice and goodness. The best part about this particular Palace of Justice, aside from its having its own metrobus stop, was that there's a sign out front advertising that it's the biggest Palace of Justice in Europe.

Hee! The palace is bigger, therefore there must be way more justice going on in there. We have way more justice than Europe! Check us out! Part of the reason the sign is funny is that it was put there by the construction company that built the Palace of Justice. Only the Palace has been finished for over a year, but the sign is still there. You just can't get over all the justice, can you?

I hate the goddamned convenient metrobus.

 The whole time I was riding public transportation all dressed for my divorce, I felt like being one of those people on public transportation who tells everyone what I'm doing there.

"Hi," I wanted to say to the surly but oddly attractive driver. "I'm Stranger and I have to go get divorced now. After that I might go shopping."

"Oh," I wanted to say to the lady who was telling everyone she was going to visit her son. "Well, I'm on my way to get divorced. I'm going to the Palace of Justice."

But I just listened to Sublime. And then I got off at the right stop and found where I needed to go and went there.

Only there was a long line at the door. BE phoned me in a rage wondering where the hell I was even though I wasn't even late yet. In fact, I was early. Do you really think I'd be even a second late for my divorce? He yelled at me and then hung up without saying goodbye. "Motherfucker," I said into the dead phone. Then I remembered I was here to get divorced from this and I was all, "Hooray!" I asked the security guard what the line was for and he told me it was to get in to the Palace of Justice. "It's very crowded," he said. Apparently, there is so much justice being meted out in there, you have to wait in line to get some.

No matter. The line gave me time for a cigarette. When I reached the security guard, he seemed cheerful I wasn't mad at him for making me wait in line. "Hell no!" I wanted to say. "I'm here for a divorce!" Instead he complimented me on my Turkish, which people often do, giving me a false sense that I speak Turkish well. Which in all honesty I completely don't at all. I just know enough to trick people into talking really fast. Fucking great.

Actual Palace of Justice toilet paper holder.
The first thing I did upon entering the Palace of Justice was find a toilet because I was full of nervous pee. There was no toilet paper, though, which made me wonder a little how much justice there actually was in this place? After that, I was confounded by the signs pointing to our courtroom so I asked at the information desk and was sent upstairs where I was further confounded but eventually found the right courtroom, along with some other people waiting to get divorced.

BE tried really hard to be a dick because that's what he's like. Except he's not really a dick by nature-- that's a special thing just for me. And we had to wait a really long time for the judge anyway, so after a few minutes he started acting nice and chatting with the lawyer and I, which was a good thing because we had to wait like an hour. She was wearing this cool cape that I thought was a cape at first, but actually was a Turkish lawyer coat.

My lawyer coached us on the stuff a judge might ask, like did I really want to get divorced. She reminded me to whisper to her if I didn't understand something, because if the judge thought I didn't speak Turkish, I would have to pay for an interpreter. I just tried to look game, but actually I was imagining a dour old religious man appointed by AKP who would be fixing to make us give the marriage another go. I imagined questions about adultery during the year of separation being asked in Ottoman legal Turkish.

Could have been way worse.
Instead, when we were finally granted access, the judge turned out to be a middle-aged woman. And while the courtroom looked like a real courtroom (albeit in miniature), the judge's table was littered with papers and folders and piles of stuff that reminded me this was just another bureaucratic thing we were dealing with. She asked me if it was my signature on the documents, and she asked BE a few other things about the agreement, but the whole point of the proceedings as far as I could tell was to dictate the divorce decree to a clerk.

When we got married, I had no idea what the marriage guy was asking me. Again, this was because we didn't want to pay extra for an interpreter. Someone had told me ahead of time the correct answer was "yes," and since I understood he asking yes-no questions, I just said "yes."

I understood my divorce way better. The other way my divorce differed from my marriage is that it takes way longer to get divorced than it does to get married, even if you subtract the waiting time.

Cures what ails ya, in any situation, thank goodness.
Afterwards, BE refused to shake my hand when I offered as a joke to lighten the mood. But he wanted to go for tea so we wandered around the Palace of Justice for awhile looking for the tea place. It was on the top floor. We smoked a bunch of cigarettes and drank tea and talked about LE and stuff he does and how we're going to deal with this stupid school thing, all newly fucked up by AKP. It was just like when we were married only we were divorced.

Several times, I had to physically use my hand to wipe the smile from my face just to be polite to BE, who was very sad and verging on tears but at least he didn't cry.

When it came time to go, I showed my ex-husband the most affection I've willingly shown him in a long time. I hugged him even though he didn't want to be hugged, and kissed both of his cheeks which he seemed okay with, then I patted one cheek and rubbed the back of his head. I thanked him even though there was no reason in the world to thank him except that he let me go after all that time of trying to be let go without a fuss.

And the fuss could have been a whole lot worse.
They don't have these here.

So after that, I went to eat a hamburger at Carl's Jr. because BE and my lawyer had been talking about that and it planted a seed. Between bites, I messaged everyone I know that I was divorced. Then I bought a swimsuit.

After that, I went to listen to a Türk sanat music concert where my student had a solo and life went on in this weird way it keeps on doing...


Stranger said...

BtoB, I think I accidentally deleted your comment.

But yeah. It's gotten relatively quiet so it feels a little like day after Christmas letdown around here...

A Seasonal Cook in Turkey said...

Well, that was quite an account, dear Stranger! Phew! What do I say? Congratulations - no, surely not but anyway, glad you got through it all OK. On with the rest of your life now!

Stranger said...

I'm totally cool with congratulations. Thanks, Claudia! Here's the the next big mess I find myself in! :)

Jane said...

What a great post! I totally understand you wanting to tell everyone on the bus. Here's to your happiness on the next stage of your life.

Ayak said...

Well it's over now and your life can start again. I felt all your emotions in that post. I really did. Here's to your future...the happy one you deserve xxxx

Stranger said...

Thanks guys!

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Stranger! Once it's resolved that it has to get done, it's good to get the divorce over with minimal fuss. Sounds like it went okay. I'm glad for you and I hope that things will be easier and better. Carry on! :)

Anonymous said...

Well done. No idea what is happening with me but am calling my son and DHLing him presents.


Stranger said...

31, sorry to hear things are still moving slowly for you. Still out of the country?

Anonymous who didn't want me to post the comment-- thanks for saying all that to me, really. I'm glad you've found something that's working for you with the family and everything. When I see things like that it lets me think a little bit that maybe it wasn't all me and my apparent inflexibility, these problems we were having, and that perhaps a lot of it was about them too.

And thanks for your kind words about everything else. Take care!


Anonymous said...

I am in Kazakhstan for another 8 weeks and hopefully going to get a week in Ist at the end of July as I have a temporary job at a UK Uni for August.


Stranger said...

I can't imagine trying to deal with this long distance. Best of luck to you, and please drop me an email if I can be any help. You certainly helped me when I needed it...

Take care.

Aunt Sis said...

You are the best writer. I get all the emotional teeth as well as the cultural aura and I feel like I'm right there with you. What a gift you have, girl. I hope you are feeling more grounded now that this divorce is behind you and a new life begins. Love you.

Stranger said...

Thank you Aunt Sis. Grounded isn't the word I'd use for how I'm feeling, but it's a really good feeling nonetheless.

I miss you.


Anonymous said...

Making you feel like its all your fault, YOU are the weird one asking too much, doing things wrong, dont know the the real thing, you are the crazy one, the one failing to accumulate and fit in. "everyone else in the whole world is living like this and you dont know a shit about the thing! because you are from that country and that country is full of nuts not like the rest of the world" ! (turks) have an amazing ability to do all that, to wash themselves cleaner than than snow and make you doubt in yourself- maybe there IS something wrong with me?! And then reading posts like yours really do bring the reality back! Thank you and seriously congrats! Wish i had a drive to do smth about my own unhappiness, maybe its just waiting for the point of no return

Stranger said...

I exactly know the feeling, Anonymous. You've totally captured it.

I just hope you can find your own way out. There's always a way, I think. There must be. It's just damn hard to find sometimes...

Good luck.