To my friends: it’s hard to imagine my study abroad experience with any other group of characters. You’re all fantastic and weird and hilarious and unique. You’re shaping my experience in İstanbul just as much as the weather, the courses, the stray animals and honking taxis. My core group of friends, I’ll never forget you. You’ve broadened my world as I hope I’ve broadened yours. We all happened to fall down this rabbit hole together and none of us knows who we’ll be when we get out and we have no idea what effect all the stumbling and guessing and experimenting will have on our future selves, or what the scary things and fun things and new things will mean to us after we leave this enigmatic metropolis. What will we remember about Taksim? How will we look back upon the Bosphorus? Will I ever forgive myself for choosing to live in the Superdorm? Will I ever get to eat a two lira döner again? Because of the unknown retrospection this experience will leave us with, it’s important for us to simply live in the moment. To wake up every day and look outside and be thankful for sunny days instead of snow. To take walks and pictures and get lost and speak Turkish. To waste nothing and embrace everything. If we don’t do it now, we’ll never do it at all.
All that said, I want to apologize to my friends who were so concerned last night with my late-night endeavors that they got off the shuttle-bus to find me in the 4 AM Taksim come-down and make sure I was making sober decisions. Sober they were, since the tequila shots were relatively ineffective as my tolerance has increased 150% since my comparatively light-drinking days in Sacramento (not what my parents want to hear, but when in Rome…) Plus I was staying at Kaan’s place anyway, a detail I perhaps should have shared with the others before sending them off on the shuttle without me. So I apologize for playing the disappearing man without warning. I appreciate the concern and this is what I love about you people. It’s reassuring to travel abroad and meet people that make you feel at home wherever you are. We’re fresh friends and we’ve got lots to learn about each other and there’s not enough time to do it, which is the tragedy of it all. Also, I didn’t mean to pull the age card so aggressively, but it was kind of silly to feel treated like a kid when I’m about three-to-five years older than most of my friends here.
Anyhow, I just wanted to say that.
Kaan and I meandered Taksim for about an hour, not quite in the mood to go back to the bar/club scene, instead eating mussels and watching the crowd diminish and chatting with vendors while street-cleaners smashed abandoned bottles to make them easier for the street-sweeper to swallow them up. Above, the night sky turned purple and blue and as we walked back to Kaan’s apartment building, the city yawned awake around us, though truthfully İstanbul never fully sleeps. It has no time to sleep.
A word on Kaan’s place, in the words of Kaan: “Goddamn, I say, goddamn.”
It’s a bit startling to see what is basically the nicest apartment/penthouse tower I’ve ever seen situated across the street from ramshackle slums, a titan among the common-folk, the antonym of subtle and the synonym of astounding. This is top-shelf living. This is a cruise-ship on land. In the morning, Kaan gave me a tour of the amenities, which included a high-quality gym and an indoor skiing machine. I bought sandals from the grocery store in the building, from which he could potentially order his groceries and have them delivered to his room. Of course my favorite part was standing at the window and looking at this:
And to the left, this:
What about that shadowy place?
You must never go there, Simba.
But I thought a king can do whatever he wants.
There’s more to being a king than getting your way all the time.
Spent some time in Kaan’s pad with the guys before meeting the girls in Taksim Square to begin our late-night rendezvous with the dance floor. Brought the party to a bar with ‘shots’ in the name where the six of us party-people shared a tray of 35 shots and busted moves and bumped elbows and made brief well-intentioned fools of ourselves. We’re an eclectic bunch and the social dynamics were unintentionally wobbly at times, but I think we all had a good time. I know I did, enough so that I didn’t want to go home and hence that awkward shuttle-bus situation unfolded.
Then the sun came up. On Kaan’s couch, I passed out. The shimmering lights of İstanbul’s pseudo-slumber transitioned to the warm earth-tone glow of another day in the life.
Goddamn, I say. Goddamn.