Istanbul has a certain morning quality that I love in all big cities, except it seems bigger and better here. There is about an hour in the morning between when the revelers from the night before have made their way to the nearest bed and the locals get up for work. That hour feels quiet, clean and still in a way that I rarely feel anywhere except in large cities, and I love rolling into Istanbul in a big bus during that hour, not because of the contrast in sounds, but because it feels like I am floating in a magical land. One of the things that first made me fall in love with Istanbul was its unique skyline. Two years ago I thought that it was just the mosques that made the skyline unique, but now I recognize that it is the particular blending of minarets with modern skyscrapers that create such a wonderland in the morning. As we came down a hill, into a valley, I was met by a scene that had the feeling of a post-apocalyptic film. I can’t say exactly why. Nothing was destroyed. But the gentle red light humming all around us, mixed with futuristic glass buildings and concrete houses had a very settling effect. When I first came here I loved the promise of penetration and the masculine energy that the city held. Now, whether it is because I know the city or because being married has slowly changed my opinions regarding random phallic symbols encroaching on my space, I find the skyscrapers and minarets the least attractive part of the city. I would love to be able to say that I have come full circle and found a feminine energy floating around the base of these buildings, but I have not. It is a man’s city, and I am ready to be gone.
We went to Bulgaria for the weekend. Hardly a weekend. We left Istanbul at 9 pm on Friday and arrived back with the rising sun Monday morning. It wasn’t supposed to be a vacation, so much as us returning many of the items that we have accumulated over the past year in anticipation of our return to Bulgaria next month, but I could still stand to have a longer period of time between two 8-hour bus trips. By the time that we arrived back in Istanbul we were both exhausted. A brief visit with friends, a midnight movie (Star Trek: Into Darkness, I wasn’t impressed), Nikola sheering sheep with his mother all day while I worked on final exams, and an uncomfortable bus ride with an iffy stomach made both of us a bit cranky and very sleepy. We were fading in and out of sleep, tangled up together like children, when we began our journey away from nature and into the heart of Istanbul. Although I haven’t measured the amount of time it takes, I know that when we started passing buildings it was still thoroughly dark, and by the time that we pulled into the bus station the sun was up. As the bus made its way through the empty suburban streets I struggled to wake myself up. I was rewarded for my efforts with the same sherbet sky that originally made me fall in love with Istanbul.