I have this Kilim, supposedly an antique from Turkey, for about 20 years. I bought it from a Turkish immigrant, say “Z,” who was my ex-husband’s BFF. He was in Kilim import business and stuck with a bunch of Kilims with no cash to pay bills. He had a wife, who was a fundamentalist vegetarian southern belle he had met in Georgia. They had a little girl and a baby boy. My ex visited him to find his BFF broke and asked me to give him some money in exchange for a rug he had brought back to the U.S. from wherever… We were still legally married but my ex had left me for a younger woman and was living with her, unbeknown to me at that time.
When my ex and I were dating in Georgia, Z was always with my ex. They were said to be soul twins. They were inseparable: a crazy Turk and a crazy Japanese art students in Athens, Georgia. Z had a girlfriend and my ex had had a series of girlfriends/fiancés, of which I was the latest.
I was young and crazy, too. We all drank crazy. And I treated them as a package deal. To my ex Z came first and I was the second.
When we decided to get married after 3 months of dating, Z seemed to be having separation anxiety. When we moved to NYC from Georgia, Z drove with us on a U-Haul truck. Soon Z graduated from the University in Georgia and traveled back to Turkey, then came back to NYC with no place to live, no prospect of job.
We were not in early 20s. All of us are around 30. My ex had a beginning position with minimal pay in a design house. I didn’t have a working permit. Z moved in with us in our one bedroom apartment in Brooklyn and stayed about 3 months, during which time they were always together.
Eventually Z got a job in Georgia and moved out. When he visited us in NYC next year, he was with his new Christian fundamentalist fiancé. Did I tell you that Z was a Muslim?
When they left, my ex had a breakdown. I guess he couldn’t tolerate the idea that Z didn’t belong to him anymore.
Many things happened after. Z had a baby, and then Z went to somewhere in Middle East to find some business opportunity leaving his pregnant wife behind. His wife took care of the kilim business and had a baby boy by herself. Then Z came back without money. Their kilim import business was not making money. When I and my ex stopped by to see them, their gas was stopped.
They looked happy though. We had a nice time. Soon after, they broke up. The wife found Z was cheating while he was in the Middle East.
And we broke up. And I bought a kilim.
It was more than 20 years ago.
Recently I got an email from my ex. He learned that Z had died about 15 years ago from massive heart attack at age 50. He said he had talked to him over the phone a couple years before that, and then Z disappeared. Z’s ex-wife found my ex on Facebook and reached out.
I remembered about Z occasionally, but he didn’t affect my life. I have nothing unsaid to Z. I wonder when people die to us. Did Z die to me when his existence stopped affecting me or when he had a massive heart attack, or when I learned he was dead? Then, when did Z die to my ex? I don’t know.
I still have this kilim. And I remembered once I took a crazy part of a crazy drama. Everybody is gone now from my life dead or alive. This is how getting old feels like today.
The photo is a Shibori Tie Dye scarf Z made more than 30 years ago, which I recently sent to my ex. I don’t need it.