A Farewell Ode to my Istanbul

istanbul turkey

Today I left you, Istanbul, with tears in my eyes. My heart breaks for you, it bleeds with you. I could not help but to be flooded with pain and memories as I saw your scenic beauty for the last time.

Today you face adversity, you are infected with selfish ‘leaders’ who feed you poison, terror, and who plays a game of political chess in their favor… slowly sucking away the vibrant life and energy from you. Leaving your people fearing for their freedom and your streets either silent or rioting.

Istanbul, this is NOT what you are.

You are the shimmering turquoise waves of your Bosphorus that brought me inspiration each day.
You are the Sultan Ahmet mosque dressed in snow during the winter.
You are the sweet smell of jasmine that welcomed me home each day of the spring.

istanbul tower

You are the red glow of the Galata tower on a full moons night.
You are the smile of your people. The greeting from the fruit vendor, the barber, and the shop owners on my street. Each “Buyrun”, “hoşgeldiniz”, and “günaydin”.

You are the sound of a silver spoon stirring inside a cup of chai and every conversations I’ve ever held over it. You are the toasted aroma of a turkish coffee, and each fortune told from it’s grinds. You are the majesty of your hanging bridges, and the ever impressive view you get when crossing them.

You are the shimmering turquoise waves of your Bosphorus that brought me inspiration each day.  You are the Sultan Ahmet mosque dressed in snow during the winter.

You are the calls of your seagulls at any given time, the distant song of prayers from the mosque, and the fanfare of boundless traffic. You are the culture and history that drips from your buildings and monuments. The left behinds of a thousand empires, kings, and civilizations.

kadikoy istanbul

You are each exquisite meal I ate cooked with love and spices. You are a beer in Besiktas, a ferry ride from Kadikoy and a night out in Taksim. You are the open door of each family that welcomed me into their home and hearts.

You are the sound of a silver spoon stirring inside a cup of chai and every conversations I’ve ever held over it. You are the toasted aroma of a turkish coffee, and each fortune told from it’s grinds. 

You are every purr, cuddle, and meow I got from your street cats. You are the hugs, the words, the kindness, and help I received from all the amazing people that surrounded me during my time with you.

You are the stages performed on and the songs I sang. You are the musicians who collaborated with me, the friends that held my hand along the way, the children I taught, and the families that accepted me as a part of their own.

I am so eternally grateful for each relationship I could cultivate. I have no words to describe how blessed I was to be constantly encompassed by the warmth and hospitality of your people.

For 9 months, we were together, you and I, we were one. An experience much like a pregnancy in which you consumed me, swallowed me whole, and spit me out. Many times broken, but always providing me the resources to piece myself back together again… better, stronger. Continuous rebirth and renewal.

In the process I’ve grown to love you so much that in certain moments I was also filled with hate for you. For you, Istanbul, are not a city for the faint of heart. You dragged me through torturous moments and allowed me to experience some of the most frightening things….

But when I look at you, I see a reflection of myself. You are a beautiful chaos, inexplicably carrying on with power and intensity but also grace and elegance. So many polar opposites and diversity, so deep and complex that one could never truly see and understand all of you,even if they tried.

For 9 months, we were together, you and I, we were one. An experience much like a pregnancy in which you consumed me, swallowed me whole, and spit me out. Many times broken, but always providing me the resources to piece myself back together again…

And trust me, I tried. I hiked your coast line until I could contemplate the Black Sea. I climbed your mountains, walked through your forests and scaled your Island’s sea cliffs. From Zonguldak to Kayseri I ventured your country as far as I could.

I endlessly wandered your streets and let you take my breath away time and time again, perpetually mesmerized by your artistry. I stood in front of you with a naked soul and allowed you to have pieces of me that I will never be able to retrieve.

andrea

In your soil lie my sweat, blood and tears. You can gladly keep them as long as you promise you won’t let the memory of me fade away in your winds. For I will not, I cannot forget you.

Farewell my dear Istanbul.
Until we meet again.

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