Something I Once Said

Five years ago, almost to the day I left Istanbul for Denmark. I should never have left. I don’t have many regrets in life. I can count them on three fingers. One of them was leaving Istanbul on June 1, 2009. Early that spring I said this about Istanbul, “fuck it man, I’d wade through a river of shit ten times to see this place.” In many ways I’ve waded through several of those metaphorical rivers of shit over the last five years.

And then there was today. Clouds lowered over the city. It’s been pissing rain here for a week, flooding many parts of the city and more rain was expected.

Babil Sokak“Fuck it,” I said, grabbed my backpack (the same one I bought here in 2009), hailed a cab and rode to Taksim. I had business to take care of. The cabbie left me at Babil Sokak, my old street. It hasn’t changed. I guess I haven’t, either.

Damnitall.

My eyes puddled up and the whole crazy mess of city assaulted me at once. The old guy where I ate breakfast every morning recognized me. I stopped at Hasan’s, my old barber. He gave me a great shave, trimming the beard up nicely. Hasan said he had missed me, asked me, “where have you been my Texas friend? Please stay for tea.”

I did, choked up, holding back the tears.

Five years.

What was it Horace said? “Jealous time flees.”

Jealous and fleeting, indeed.

Istanbul, June 5 2014

I walked down Cumurriyet Caddesi, this time unable to hold back the tears.

How I so love this city: the filth, the crowds, the covered women, the women in miniskirts, the men in coats, the touts, the louts, the traffic and the smells: roasting chestnuts, roasting corn, steaming tea in tulip shaped glasses, musty bricks laid before Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

I walked past the Galata Tower and turned the corner onto the Golden Horn Bridge and then a miracle happened, just for me.

The clouds evaporated. The Bosporus turned from sullen gray to green. Ferries cut cottony tails across the Sea of Marmara. Fishermen cast lines off the bridge and the whole city was just as golden and magnificent as I ever remembered it.

I was home.

One Response to “Something I Once Said”

  1. MAV

    Thanks, SPK.

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