I’ll start by going the other way around Trump Towers, past where I’d stayed in Mecidiyekoy for only one month, because that would have been my walk home from Bilgi had I not found the island, and because I want to find my window, which may or may not still have its hanging flower basket, and imagine what it would have been like to stay there, so close to school, instead of on the island, because everything might have turned out a lot differently.
Then, after a sufficient amount of creeping around Mecidiyekoy, I’ll stare up at my old place above the Anarchist cafe in Taksim – its bright yellow comforter and its lavender walls, where I’d made my first mercimek corbasi and fell back in love with a city, where I’d sat and chatted to my friend who’d just gotten married, who’d told me that she did “all the stuff like cooking and cleaning” and said it with pride, like my grandmother, but not exactly.
From there I might wind up in Fatih, where, in 2013, after crossing the incorrect bridge and a street I shouldn’t have crossed, I discovered a restaurant with a little garden, where I’d later take some friends who’d come to Istanbul in search of authentic cuisine and, having become increasingly underwhelmed by their package tour, told me restaurant’s kuzu sis was exactly what they had hoped to find: the taste (mine) of victory through happenstance, transgression.
And, yes, Asia, Kuzguncuk again, because in 2004 some children there (who are the same age as my students now) had taught me to count, and believe it or not I was actually carrying a Discman during the walk to Uskudar in those days, keeping it upright and spinning, this song about a disgusting bird the only song that made sense to play during that time in my life when I first started walking as fast as I could just for fun.
And you can’t even see through the sky here sometimes, and other times the sky has been so beautiful it’s found me more dumbfounded even than it had in Africa in the desert: here we have to try to see it – the right time of day or the right angle – it isn’t just all around you; there is more in the way and we want and don’t want it all.