A globalized, but quiet dinner in Provincetown as the Karagöz puppets state their resolutions for the new year…


Three in a line - walking on wintry Race Point Beach, in Provincetown, MA

I noticed that the puppets were particularly pensive tonight while M. and I had our dinner. They sat on the windowsills around the Provincetown place where we are chilling out, head in hands, looking wistfully at the stars in the sky, thinking. Even Karagöz interrupted his snoring snoozes to think a bit. We were all feeling somewhat snoozy after braving the winds of Race Point Beach to hunt for driftwood for M.’s new art project…and for some much needed lung work.

As for us, for much of this, we were caught up in ourselves, noticing how rare it is that we actually are able to sit down together. We talked about how we could work more time together into our scheduled lives despite my night teaching and major commute – and lamented the days of our youth – and our parents’ relationships which involved dinner together every single night. Pathetic as it may seem, we now have a commitment to dinner together at home, eating something we cook, on the 1st and 2nd Mondays, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Wednesdays an as many Fridays as we can. We also settled on a target of 2 movie nights per month – we used to be movie fanatics – and life has gotten in the way. As we never had kids, we never got to institutionalizing the proverbial “date nights” our couple friends always talk about. We had a good laugh about all of this – and launched into plans for slower, more together-focused days in our retirement split between Bozcaada and Provincetown, if we are lucky enough to be able to go for “plan A.” Most of life, as my friend says, “is plan B.” Who knows what will evolve – the way will become clear. Esma rolls her eyes at this – she can’t imagine it is THAT hard to find time together.  The little chorus of dancing ladies warn about “losing your man” and sound a bit like blues singers from the 1960s on WOMR radio.

Oblivious to the puppet as we chattered on and on together, talking about this and that in a very middle-aged type of way (and revelling in it), candles were flickering on the table between us as the dog slept at our feet, exhausted from marathon races on the beach over the past few days.  Kenne recoiled in horror as we slurped up our linguica-infused spaghetti dinner with a nice Bordeaux and we clinked our glasses to one another, keeping it simple was our promise to each other for today.

It is hard to imagine that a simple American meal such as the one we made tonight (an uncommon one in our house) could be anything but simple, but when you really deconstruct it, the globalized nature of our culinary lives is astonishing. Let’s look at tonight’s dinner Portuguese linguica sausage from the Provincetown market (something my Spanish granny cooked as a way to render some of the flavor of her youth in cold, chilly Cape Cod), Italian spaghetti from Angel Foods, complete with a wrapper in Italian, a sprinkling of pul biber from the mısır çarsısı in Istanbul, lettuce from who-knows-where but most recently bought at the sandwich counter at the East End Market down the street, where Betty Boop presides over the vegetables as they were out of packaged lettuce and accomodated our need for greens, organic lemons from Florida…and of course, the lovely zeytinyağı (olive oil) from Arizona, a gift to M. from my mother. Now we are finishing off with clementines from Spain.

Hacivad Bey joins me in musing on the interconnectedness of the worlds now, with the good and the bad of hyper-warp-speed telecommunications, travel and the like. Looking at me very intently, Hacivad Bey tells me that he will join the “slow food” movement this year, and focus on eating locally.

Esma, the tiny hippie lady puppet prone to emitting rose and jasmine petals when she is meditating quickly jumps on the slow-moving slow-food bandwagon with Hacivad Bey. She adds that she will up her daily meditation time from 1 hour to 1 hour and 5 minutes. I vow to join her for those new 5 minutes, at least a couple of times per week.

Hearing that talk has turned from globalization to meditation, Tiryaki, the opium addict puppet, stops nodding his head in a cool gesture lifted directly from a smoky grunge band bar in the 1990s, and heads off to take another toke. “There will be no attempt at recovery this year, man,” he mutters, heading for the purple hills of his mind.

Kenne practically kicks him off of the windowsill in a good-riddance gesture – she is mortified, this little mannerly lady, at his presence. However, feeling the pangs of guilt rise up like vines in a hot spring, Kenne proclaims that her resolution for the new year is to stop bugging me to bug M. quite so much when it comes to his manners (or lack thereof, love, as you would say) whilst visiting my folks.

Zenne looks nervous at this suggestion, but also puts out there that she is rather tired of being so anxious and so nervous, and suggests that she will take up more regular walking – and where necessary – anti-anxiety medicines. Where, I wonder, do these puppets here all about such modern things? Zenne, shaking, tells me she hopes I will not be angry, but that she read about such medicines over my shoulder while I was reading a magazine on kitchen remodeling at the hairdresser today. “No sweat, little lady,” I tell her, “it’s all good.”

Bebe Ruhi then shuffles up to me – “don’t you want to know what my resolution for the new year is, m’lady?” Of course, I think, of course Bebe Ruhi, the incessant questi0nner, of course he starts this with a question. “Do tell, little man, what will it be?” I implore him – my secret soft spot for his analytical side flowing vs. ebbing. “Well, m’lady,” Bebe Ruhi states with his head held high, “I vow to try to encourage you to ask a few fewer questions in faculty meetings as you are a loudmouth sometimes – even if you get tenure this spring.”

Before I can ask him what has inspired this, Yehuda Rebbe walks in with Khadijah and Celebi, the cross-cultural and cross-socioeconomic status couple.Gathering the puppets around, Yehuda Rebbe explains that Khadijah and Celebi have set a date for their wedding – 12-12-12. The numbers, Khadijah says, are auspicious. As the puppet troupe whoops and cheers – Yehuda Rebbe reminds them to love one another, no matter what, and to let that love come first as the world – and the unknown of everyday – are experienced together.

As if “done for the night,” the puppets all decide to give up on their search for the perfect resolution – and to just enjoy being together. To mark the moment, Yehuda Rebbe quotes from the Mevlana Rumi himself:

“My head is bursting
with the joy of the unknown.
My heart is expanding a thousand fold.
Every cell,
taking wings,
flies about the world.
All seek separately
the many faces of my love.

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Shoulder to shoulder, we face the new year - bring it, 2012!

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Lighted lovebirds at the Berta Walker Gallery down the street - we can see the shapes in the distance from our window