Wednesday, 14 October 2015

JJGalbraith memorial walk

Today was a beautiful day. After errands in the morning, I went on one of my JJ Galbraith memorial walks. I'm not sure whether memorializing one's walks is narcissistic or pessimistic but I have been doing it for over ten years now so let's just call it a quirk. I have such named walks in Brisbane, Basel, London, Florence, Damascus and Istanbul. The walk I took today I  have written about before so I won't go into breathless detail. All I can say is it started with a metro ride to Vezneciler whereupon I stopped in at a student cafe for a 3 TL gozleme ( pancake) before wandering through the grounds of my most treasured  mosque - Suleyiman. As I walked, I trailed my fingers across Istanbul's ancient skin: overs walls and  wooden doors, old gates and pillars. My feet kissed her worn pavements and my head strained for the heavens.

I then passed through the Grand Bazaar where I had tea with Aydin, a bazaar shop owner I know, and my eyes glistened equally with joy and missing at the sight of  sparkling alley ways , the endless sound of  clinking tea glasses.

Later I met my favorite ex-student, Aliye, in Istiklal to drink wine. As we walked arm in arm, stroking each other's hair, I felt this deep sense of peace that I had finally come home. Over drinks we talked about Ankara, cats, the perils of gynecological surgery from the surgeon's point of view, Danish beer, Macedonian Raki and the fate of Jon Snow.

Then on the way home I cried.

This Sunday I am leaving Istanbul  - at least for the time being. My cats are staying here while I fly like a canary deep into a future cave to see if there is a life I can create for us all somewhere else.  If there is, my laydees will follow. If there isn't, I shall return.
For some reason I feel at pains to stress that this coming departure has nothing to do with Turkey's political situation. Because it doesn't.  I am not afraid here. I don't feel unsafe. I feel bonded to my city and if anything the current situation makes me want to stay more than go. But other plans have been made over the summer and it is time for me to see if they are truly what I want. As I have said many times before, my reasons for leaving in Istanbul are steeped in the practical not the emotional.

I don't feel this is goodbye though. I actually feel like our story still has much to follow.  I mean how can you not want to live in a city with signs like these :-)

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