1st Century, Basilica of St. John, Blue Eye, Church of Mary, Clothes, Ephesus, Evil Eye, Gift, Jewelry, Latrines, melissa kotler schwartz, Mustache, Romans, Ruins, Shadow, Stranger, strangersihaveknown, Sun, Temple of Artemis, Turkey
What I remember about Ephesus in Western Turkey is not The Temple of Artemis, the Church of Mary or the Basilica of St. John, but a Turkish man in his fifties with a thick mustache at an outdoor market filled with colorful cotton clothes.
I was eighteen-years old looking at gauzy dresses on a rack outside. They were swaying ever so slightly in the wind and the sun felt sharp and hot on my back. The more I looked at the clothes, the more I felt engulfed in them as if I couldn’t escape. Suddenly, there was a man standing right next to me. I had no idea how he got there. He reached out and took my hand and walked me towards a store. I was afraid. Where was my Mom? Should I scream out? Something told me not to. All at once, I was in his store. I remember shadows crossing a beige stucco wall where the sun was trying desperately to get in.
He sat me down and opened his hand. In his palm was a piece of jewelry. It was a small silver-hand with a blue eye in the middle. I had never seen anything like it before and a chill went down my spine. “This is an evil eye. It will protect you,” he said in a irrefutable voice. I took a deep breath, secure in the knowledge that this man, a stranger, had wanted to protect me. I didn’t understand why, but he pressed the Evil Eye into the palm of my hand. He then stood up and beckoned me to follow him out of the store. I’ll never know why he gave that gift to me. Maybe he was just being kind?
I kept it all these years and a few years ago, I gave it to my daughter. She wears it from time to time. It’s a bit big on her as it was on me when I was a young woman. Sometimes she asks me to tell her the story of the Evil Eye.
Now, I remember something else about Ephesus. It’s the Latrines, built by the Romans in the 1st century. Their creation was very advanced and civilized for the time. I thought that the Romans attention to details were remarkable. Even today, I can picture the stranger with the thick mustache. He will always be Ephesus to me because people are so much more memorable than ruins.