--there is a small Turkish city called Sanliurfa.
The old city center was especially gorgeous.
Urfa was the farthest east we went during my trip to Turkey. Most people there spoke very little English, and it felt more like stepping into another world than any place we visited.
Despite this, in the bazaar there, my friends and I found, of all things....
Wait for it.
Wait for it.
An English major. We found an English major in the Urfa bazaar.
We ended up talking to him because--well, first, we glanced at the soap he was selling--but then he greeted us in perfect English, complete with a crisp British accent. In a place where we really had to use the rudimentary Turkish we had been scrambling together over the past week, that was rather startling.
The poor man was desperate to practice his English--especially since there was no one in Urfa to speak with him--so we talked for a while as we sniffed our way through the soaps.
As it turns out, he was a Syrian refugee (Urfa is rather close to the border.) who had been studying English literature and teaching English at a university in Syria. The unrest in his country forced him to flee to Turkey, however, and made his future plans impossible: He had been planning to move in with his uncle in England and attend a British university as a PhD candidate.
I usually think about the grisly cost exacted by war. The death, the violence, the disruption of families. This encounter made me realize that that isn't all. These people have plans and hopes and dreams just like the rest of us, and war ruins those, too.
None of this had diminished the man's love for literature, however. We asked him what his favorite books were, and he immediately listed Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, and Atonement. He said he loved these books because they had been a comfort to him during the crisis in his country.
And then--to finally circle around to the title of this blog post--he used a word...a glorious, luminous, perfect word, to describe those novels.... It was a word I never would have used, something only a non-native speaker would have selected. And it was perfect.
And we can't for the life of us remember what it was.
I think it started with a "b." Katie the Roommate wasn't so sure about that. We spent probably an hour in our hotel room trying to think of it that night, once we realized it had slipped our minds.
I don't know what it was. I don't think we'll ever remember. But I hope that somehow, someday, Adam the Syrian refugee will get his PhD in English literature and have a chance to use that word again.