For some reason – I can’t trace the trigger – I was reminded the other day of a moment from the summer of 1996, a moment shared with my oldest friend.
We were in Turkey, having decided to spend two weeks travelling around with the help of a ‘Lonely Planet’ guidebook and a ‘Rough Guide’, using each alternately to choose places to visit, places to stay and places to eat. It was a brilliant trip – a kind of mini-backpacking experience.
On the day of the ‘moment’ we were staying in Goreme, marvelling at the Troglodyte dwellings and enjoying the twists and turns of paths that would take us, without warning, from an almost Star Wars type landscape into an infinite field of sunflowers. It was a fascinating place; I’ve never been back but I’d love to…
We’d climbed up from the town (village) and were high on a flat-topped rock, looking out to our left towards the ‘fairy chimneys’ of the dwellings carved into the landscape. Down to our right was the main road. Wherever we went, we carried books and walkmen (the chunky musical appendage of the pre-iPod generation). It was sweltering up there – a potentially perfect place to rest, away from the traffic of the centre and in sight of our extraordinary surroundings.
I can’t recall exactly who started it. We were both listening to music, cocooned by our headphones and unaware of each other’s tape of choice. One of us started to dance up there on that rock, initiating a silent disco of her own, moving in time to a beat that only she could hear. What I remember more clearly is the two of us, up on our feet, dancing and jumping around to our individual playlists, oblivious to everything apart from the heat, the rhythm and the sight of each other swaying and twisting and laughing.
My own recollection is of an immense freedom – that ‘dance like no one is watching’ feeling which removes all sense of inhibition. It was a stripped back, solitary moment, shared with a person I’d known for almost 20 years. And then we noticed them. People in the street below were looking up at the two apparently crazy Western women, silhouetted against the sun, arms spread wide, twirling and whirling for no obvious reason.
How could we stop? The tracks were unfinished, the dances yet to end. It would have been easy to sit down, embarrassed, to pretend we weren’t really there but the moment demanded more than that so we continued, undaunted by our audience.
I think I’m right in remembering that shortly afterwards some other people joined us on the rock, not to dance, but to introduce themselves and share their travelling stories. I’m vaguely aware of conversing in schoolgirl German with them but I don’t remember how the story ends other than the fact that we must have come down from the rock eventually, packed up our things and moved on to the next adventure…