April showers bring May flowers, as well as so many days to celebrate. In addition to Hıdırellez and Mother’s Day, it also holds the anniversary of my birth.
Hıdırellez, pronounced similarly to Hidirellez, is a deep-rooted tradition in Turkey and celebrates the beginning of spring on the 6th of May. The name is derived from two historic figures, the Prophet Hıdır who is associated with spring and rebirth, and the Prophet İlyas who is thought to bring rain to arid lands. The day of Hıdırellez marks the day when Hıdır and İlyas met on earth and it is believed that on that day healing energy poured forth from them onto the earth. I love Hıdırellez. I am the sort of person who takes every opportunity to set my intentions and desires before the universe. As Rene Descartes said, "I think therefore I am". So I think, and so I am. The ritual I practice on Hıdırellez is as follows: On the evening of the 5th, I start by writing my intentions and desires on a piece of paper. I then bury it underneath a Rosebush. Early the next morning, I dig it up and place it into a body of flowing water, thus symbolically give my wishes over to nature.
Mother’s day was just a couple of days after Hıdırellez. As the only daughter of a woman who deep-down believes in the patriarchy, I must admit that it was not that easy to become the woman I am today. Growing up I was only allowed to hang out with a few female friends whom my mother deemed well-behaved. I was not allowed to wear any makeup, not even nail polish or tweeze my eyebrows. I was driven between school and home by drivers, and I was protected from the outside world almost all the time. For a long time, my mother’s dream life for me was getting a job, getting married, having children, and obeying society’s given rules for women. Until very recently she was even unhappy about me being an academic since she believes that the reason I haven't gotten married is because I am in a more intellectual environment which causes me to think differently from other people. “I wish you were just a random high-school maths teacher” she used to say when she was upset at my free soul. After a lot of effort to make myself clear about who I would like to be and what I want from life, that’s all water under the bridge now. I am a confident, free, hardworking, and intelligent woman. I drive my own car and follow my own heart. My mother and I are strongly attached, yet not dependent on each other which is such bliss. I am now well aware of the fact that motherhood does not come with a handbook. My mother did her best to raise me and if I am who I am right now it is not completely thanks to her but she does deserve a lot of credit.
For the first fifteen days of May, I worked my guts out to catch up on several deadlines for different projects and finished everything on time. I also looked forward to attending the first in-person conference since the start of the pandemic. The conference was held in the city of Waco, Texas. The best thing about going to the conference was that I got to travel to a city I had never been to before. I also got to meet new people, listen to talks and presentations by established professors, and got my accommodation and (partial) travel expenses covered by the organizers (the generosity was very well-appreciated).
I had a flight back to St. Louis on my birthday which was the last occasion to celebrate this month. As of May 28th, 2022 I am a thirty-eight-year-old woman who is still eager to learn, explore, and experience as many things as possible. I am proud of myself not only because of my accomplishments but also because I am just a good human being. I have grown into the person I have always dreamed of. I am really thankful for that and excited to see what is coming next. A very happy birthday to me.
May 2022, Austin.