This is the fifth time we meet up after being away from each other. This time, now that he is based in Istanbul, distance made the most sense. When he lived in Beirut, there was something silly about the distance and the borders that separated us. It all felt like a sad joke. We were only five hours apart. But also we were Assad Syrian borders apart and then Lebanese Syrian borders apart. Nothing fun or funny about the two.
This is the fifth time and it doesn’t take much time for me to be familiar with him and the new space I’m in. It all comes naturally and effortlessly to me. I could say it is one of the things I love most about ‘us’. When we’re together, there isn’t much work to be done to get used to being with him. So, it doesn’t take much time for my body to fall asleep on his bed.
Neither of us had a plan for what we were going to do. Again, I wasn’t in my usual travel mood to plan. I found myself sometimes wishing he had a plan yet other times I was truly enjoying the spontaneity of it all. He had a list of the places he wanted us both to eat at and we went to most of them I believe. I cannot describe how both exciting and delicious the food was. I love our Mediterranean cuisine, but the Turkish truly excel at presentation and variety.
The traditional Turkish breakfast was an experience by itself. I cannot say that there were any new exotic flavors. I mean, at the end of the day, we were under Ottoman colonization for the longest time and we are too close to be so strange to each others food and looks. Yet, I do not believe I had such a delightful breakfast in any Arab country. My first day, we had a breakfast near Galata. We sat on a table in a narrow alleyway with the architecture of the buildings’ embrace. I don’t know much about urban design, but there is something about the freshness of the air you breathe in these tiny alleyways. There is also a feeling of warmth and comfort; being surrounded by windows and curtains that project a feeling of home. Also, it is always a delight and your smile can’t help but press against your cheeks when unexpectedly a ray of sun finds its way down on to you.
Next, I was promised a Bosporus tour. Ah, the Bosporus! So, and as my boyfriend claims, I have to google everything. Now, I know the Bosporus’ a water channel but that wasn’t enough information for me. Long story short, and for the love of etymology, this channel of life got its reference from a mythological Greek story (of course). A story of Zeus and Lo; one of his mortal lovers. Zeus of course saw Lo and pursued her, lusted over her rather. In order to hide her from his wife, he turned Lo into a cow. Although, other stories say that the wife was the one who transformed her. Hera, the wife, sent a gadfly (which normally plagues cattle) after Lo in order to drive her into wandering restlessly. This is when Lo crosses the path between the sea or Marmara and the Black Sea to finally meet Prometheus the Titan god of fire who promised her that it is Zeus who will convert her back to human form. She then crosses the Mediterranean to meet Zeus in Egypt where he actually transforms her back and she has his child as well. Long story short, Bosporus means: ox-passage.
Ah the Bosporus! That silhouette view of the minarets and domes and the pairs of small waves of the water currents. James Baldwin felt free in Istanbul. He said he wasn’t black in Istanbul the way he was in America. He was of darker skin. The solitude and freedom the city offered Baldwin allowed him to dive into his world of writing. There is a sense of freedom in Istanbul, I second Jimmy on that.
You see, Baldwin enjoyed the anonymity the city has given him. He was also celebrated by the artists and intellectuals community in Istanbul. Yet, I find myself also seeking this anonymity he enjoyed. I am not known in my city, but everything I am gives me away. I am a part of a group in my country even when I share nothing in common with this group but a name or a history of an outdated behavior.
We walked the stretch of the Dolmabahce palace by the Bosporus. This time enjoying the umbrella of trees and the random huge banners of Ataturk’s pictures. His deathbed in a room on the palace to the right and his proud pictures waving above a traffic of cars. We held hands randomly as the sky was getting gloomier. The clouds looked heavy.
Can you smell rain before it falls, too?