Registered Nurse | Former Flight Attendant | Mother
Zeynep was born in 1969, in one of the small towns of Artvin: the northeasternmost Turkish city near to Caucasia.
Money was scarce, electricity was still to come; but, crime was non-existent and prosperity was quantified by the number of books read. Her snowy childhood memories – which are as remote as Artvin is from anywhere – are made up of comforting sheep, a dog, series of books, deep forest, and then the deeper impact of the infamous 1980 military coup.
Istanbul Act 1 Scene 1
When Zeynep was at grade 8, her parents and she relocated to Istanbul in the early 1980s in order to flee their hometown that was made uninhabitable by the 1980 junta. She spent her high school (Vehbi Koè Lisesi) years in an advanced maths class with a sea view and had her share of broken dreams in that huge, old Byzantine town. Being mesmerised by the inaccessible, yet very close Ottoman mansions on both European and Asian shores of the Bosphorus; waiting for the infrequently-arriving, overcrowded bus to and from home and school; confronting and hugging each of her 5 siblings every day and night...
High school was over towards the end of 1980s and she made her first attempt to establish an independent life.
Early Adulthood and College
As a born service-centred person, Zeynep enrolled in the Tourism and Hotel Management programme at Uludağ University. Her campus was in Balıkesir: the central municipality of the popular resorts in the northern Aegean shores of Turkey. Her souvenirs included playing basketball, cohabitation with schoolmates, parties, internships at hotels, and facing the loss of her endearing father to cancer.
Her First Time Abroad
Right after her graduation in 1991, she realised English language knowledge was gradually becoming a prerequisite for survival.
A few months later, she was working as an au-pair in Letchmore Heath, England. She still remembers each and every day of that sojourn in England, dominated by the reminiscences of one failed love affair and the resounding images of the Jewish host family's enormous support, which all ended in 1993.
The lifestyle she witnessed and became a part of there, would shape her perspective permanently.
An Involuntary Homecoming
When she was back in Turkey, she was determined to expatriate herself.
Istanbul Act 1 Scene 2 would be a brief scene, as the only choice available to Zeynep was to live with her mother and siblings, which no one would consider a dream life.
The actress deviated from the playscript then and there. She quitted her peanut-paying secretary position at Deloitte and Touche, which she got thanks to the British accent she adopted in England, and left parental home to become the architect of her own life.
Standing on Her Own Feet
There was the breathtaking view of Antalya in the backdrop, the setting was Zeynep's first unshared home, and the date was April 1, 1995.
Having had just completed the training period, she had her first flight (as a Flight Attendant at SunExpress) scheduled for the next morning. That was the night she would meet her future soulmate from Istanbul, that is me, as a consequence of infinitely improbable coincidences.
4 frantic Antalya years marked our frequently restarting relationship. Countless travels between Istanbul and Antalya, 3 New Year's Eve celebrations, a vacation in Poland, and of course, the redefinition of obsession... When she relocated to Istanbul and faced the truth, we decided to separate for the nth time.
Istanbul Act 2 Scene 1
But honeymooned in Santorini instead.
1999, Cihangir, Istanbul.
Zeynep initially tried another airliner as a Flight Attendant. However, air-hostessing was no big fun and the small photography company we owned was performing excellently. We thought running it together could be a better choice. She joined the production team, leaving the Flight Attendant position for good.
Home improvement, purchasing collectibles, night outs, and Beyoğlu were the keywords. The photography business was lucrative and money was pouring in, until it was not: someone introduced the digital photography and I was not expecting this. But who cares? I estimated we could live on our existing wealth, ceteris paribus.
And when the very unplanned happened, the entire script required a rewrite. The unannounced fetus Ege was successfully hiding himself not to be discovered until his 4th month. "Ceteris paribus" thus collapsed.
The Hedonistic Couple Evolves into Helicopter Parents
She became a full-time devoted mother, who often did overtime work. Ege reciprocated by being too perfect to be true and quartier Cihangir – with the overrepresentation of writers, directors, and the other celebrity – was more than inspiring even for the married-with-children.
New friends with toddlers at park, privileged children being raised in the middle of everything, rapidly improving economy of Istanbul, a highly intellectual atmosphere, Japanese language classes: Zeynep did consider this a dream life.
But the astronomical kindergarten fees that never existed before were certainly not a part of the dream. In 2005, a simple calculation of the cost of raising a child who would be proficient in at least one foreign language, sounded the alarm. Moreover, despite the economic growth the country achieved, the cultural habitat was gradually being transformed into another type of environment: a political climate change we never foresaw.
We applied to Canada under the federal skilled worker category in 2006 and started packing our belongings up in 2007, making Canada our main course at dinners.
When she took that ride to Ataturk airport in November 2008, Zeynep knew full well that it was not one of her usual flights at all. We left Istanbul once and for all.
End of act 2 scene 2.
Expatriation as Dreamt of Before
New setting: Thornhill, Ontario, Canada.
In 2009 and 2010, she was back at high school (Dr. Bette Stephenson Centre for Learning). Amicable Jewish-Russian Community Centre, Promenade Circle, snow white snow, VIVA transport, next-door neighbours who would become permanent family friends in time, and loads of civilisation became her vivid memories. (How traffic flowed in Ontario, was difficult to grasp though.)
2011 was about her Pre-Health studies at Seneca College. When she went there just to learn some more English, she was neither expecting to graduate with honours nor to be one of the very few among her classmates to be admitted to the highly competitive Bachelor of Science in Nursing programme.
We relocated to yet another rental house in Barrie in 2012, in order that Zeynep could do the first 2 years of her nursing studies that were collaboratively held by Georgian College and York University. Detached house experience, acquisition of Canadian citizenship, even whiter but absolutely bulkier snow that necessitates shovelling like mad, numerous exams covering boxes of books, working part-time as a PSW at Coleman Care Centre, the arrival of JJ-the-dog, unique frustrations, and new sets of hopes... That was the list of first-evers there.
We were living in Barrie for one reason: Zeynep's studies. When she graduated on August 2016, that reason was nullified. The never-ending tenantship in Canada was begging for an ending already.
Settling in the National Capital Region
When the U-haul truck from Barrie parked at the driveway of our own home in Gatineau, on December 2016, Zeynep was on cloud nine, as there would be no more outgoing U-haul trucks.
The milestones of 2017 were the NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse) exam, daily dog walks while making local friends, and the job offer she would receive from the Kingston Health Sciences Centre as a Registered Nurse, towards 2018. Since then, she has been saving lives there.