My favorite season in Istanbul was, fig season.  Never having seen or eaten a fresh fig in my life, I was fascinated by this strange and delicate fruit.  My first encounter with them came when a great friend and I were walking through the sea side town of Kuşadası, on our way to catch a boat to Greece.  It was mid August, the air was thick and sweltering and our back packs were heavy.  We stopped to stare curiously at the fresh figs a woman was selling by the side of the road.  After buying 3 liras worth, we continued trekking through the busy streets to the dock.  An hour later we were on the boat, rocking in the rough water, our skin covered in sea salt from the occasional splash on board.  We examined the figs in their intricacy.  They were plump and round, fitting nicely into the palm of my hand.  Each one a deep purple, fading to a bright green towards the small stem.  Small flecks of white covered their skin and as I looked closer I found many other colors; blue, grey, pink, orange, red.   We tore them open, indulging on their seeded insides.

After our trip to Greece and the departure of my dear friend, I watched the figs fill every market place, and they became my daily purchase.  Subjects in my paintings and photographs, I was always happy to indulge in them and remember my boat ride to Greece.  By the middle of October, they began to taper away and I felt disheartened to see them diminish.  Every day during fig season I recalled Sylvia Plath, and my favorite passage from the Bell Jar.  The passage is about choice, each fig representing a potential path in life.  While living in such an overwhelming city, I felt a connection to this idea in an entirely new way.  Everyday presented me with infinite choices, and I was only hoping to be picking the right fig.

I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story.  From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked.  One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn’t quite make out.  I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn’t make up my mind which of the figs I would choose.  I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.  ~Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, Chapter 7

“Choice” Watercolor


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