• Jocette Lee

"I am Afraid of the Market"


Every Wednesday and Sunday, my local Turkish neighborhood transforms into mayhem. Old women emerge from their apartments, carelessly pulling an empty, gingham-patterned trolley cart towards a market stuffed into the bottom of a massive concrete parking garage. Just one street away, an incredibly large food bazaar appears and disappears with the sun. This biweekly ritual is quite the production. The night before, tables are organized and produce bins are delivered. However, by the end of the market day, people are sweeping up the space with only leaves and trash as proof of what took place.

I feel a pressure and pull to participate in the excitement - but my nerves tell me, “Next time I’ll go in.” Without full preparation of my grocery list, empty canvas bag and cash ready-at-hand, I don’t dare to enter. Often times, fast paced exchanges pressure me into making decisions I wouldn’t normally make without consideration. Last week, I gave myself a challenge to buy two things at the market: bananas and potatoes - I walked out with mushrooms.

Most days, I find myself peeking into the market or casually walking through to grow accustomed to the space. Like dipping a toe into the water, I am still acclimating to the sounds, smells, vocabulary and customs of the market. I am drawn to the space and long to be an expert on how to buy, consume and prepare the products sold in the market. But much like my adjustment here, I find that I am still observing, learning and soon, I will muster up the courage to engage.

My ambivert personality surprises even me - I am mixture of shy and bold but in this situation, I am operating out of respect. I don’t want to disrupt the patterns of the market with my novice interactions and noticeable American accent.

However, at some point, my presence in the neighborhood and participation in the market becomes a part of the culture. I am three months into living near this bazaar, which means I have seen this event come and go nearly 24 times. From now on, I am choosing to engage and take a stab at using these ingredients to nourish and bring joy to my life.

Art work by Alessandra Olanow © alessandraolanow.com


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©2020 by Jocette Lee.

All photos are the property of Jocette Lee unless otherwise noted.