Chocolate Karma

If my ingestion of a full plate of pasta and bread rolls with butter, chased by 3 Krispy Kreme glazed doughnuts and a cup of Swiss Chocolate Bits cereal, is any indication, I am in a bit of a funk. What tasted good going down (although, sadly, not as good as one would hope after devouring so many calories) has less good results on one’s mood (not to mention thighs), thus exacerbating what appears to be a bit of a mid-move melancholy.

I am all for change and, after 9 years in Moscow, I was looking forward to it. Still, the unknown is scary. Actually, it is the unknown effect on our kids that has my psyche hanging in the balance. What if the kids do worse in school, make fewer friends, and/or make friends with kids who are less nice? What if the level of education takes a nose dive? What if they start down a path that leads to alcohol, drugs, theft and prison?

(There are never worse scenarios for a worrying parent, only worst case…just a hint, a smidgen of ‘worse’ is enough to leapfrog me straight into the ‘worst case’ continuum of scenarios).

The big question: will the net sum effect of our move be positive or negative?

Since I didn’t have the answer to this question and could no longer avoid the pained expression on my dog’s face or her crossed legs, after my binge, I gulped down 2 cups of strong coffee, hoping the caffeine would fight its way through the carb-induced stupor I was in and give me a bit of get-up-and-go. I grabbed the leash, the dog, a couple of bags from our plastic shopping bag collection, and headed out the door, down the elevator and into the snowy Istanbul night.

Now, walking our dog in this city is an experience unto itself. Pedestrians are either lunging toward the dog with excitement or leaping away from her in fear. Fortunately, she is a friendly dog and has taken in stride the uninvited pets from strangers (even when one patted her on the behind today; I could have used my new term ‘çok ayıp’ – ‘shame on you’- but the guy was long gone before my brain retrieved that piece of information).

I headed down a lively street in Ulus and, in between responding to pedestrians asking to pet our pup and working to avoid wide-eyed, squealing kids on the narrow sidewalk, I noted the different restaurants, cafes, and clothing stores that were just minutes from our apartment (as if the mall adjacent to our building wasn’t enough temptation to challenge our credit card’s limits).

I was still feeling a bit off. The glutinous mound of flour, butter and sugar in my stomach had eased a bit, but I was still feeling like yuck, the imagined words ‘you’ve ruined my life’ echoing in my brain. Another block passed. Starbuck’s? The thought of a skinny vanilla latte just moments from my door added a slight spring to my step.

Still, what is vanilla-enhanced caffeine compared to the demise of my children’s future? Would Starbuck’s comfort me when I visited my children in a Midnight Express Turkish prison, pressing the paper cup against the glass divider? What have we done?

But wait. Is that…can it be? “Lovell’s Chocolates.”

Actually, I had noticed quite a few chocolate stores in Istanbul, when out driving, walking in malls, or running down side streets and along the Bosporus. An inordinate amount, in fact. There had been Godiva stores as well as unknown private brands advertising delectable morsels of creamy, mouth-watering, hand-dipped chocolates. And have I mentioned the pastry stores?

However, it was the next 2 words on the sign that sealed the deal, that made me think moving may not be the utter catastrophe I was imagining in my paranoid parental brain:

“Valet Parking

Valet parking for a chocolate store.

It is confirmed. Istanbul is a chocolate city. Turks like chocolate. They are MY people. I mean, if the city likes chocolate so much that they would establish Valet Parking for such a store, how depraved of an environment could it be?

I chose to take those 2 words as a sign. A sign that we all will survive this move, that the unfamiliar with become familiar and homey and fine. Not the same familiar we had in Moscow, but a new one. A different familiar. A new experience. A new adventure with new learnings, new friends, new upsides, and, yes, even new downsides. But overall: good. And eventually those new things would ease into comfortable. A comfortable good in its own right. Not to be compared.  And not to be regretted.

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