Positive Reflections on Istanbul

Now that over a year has passed since we left Istanbul, I can start to look back on it fondly. The politics of the place fade away and all that is left in my memory are the concrete facts of what it was.

I smell fish grilling on the streets. I feel the damp, drizzly winter seeping through my clothes and into my skin. I see thousands of cats roaming my university campus as if it was created for them. I feel the weight and motion of large ferry boats bobbing in the waves of the channel. I remember the fear and excitement of a new language tripping over my tongue, and the simple joy of being understood. I remember the frothing emotion of the Gezi Park protesters- excitement, anger, fear, and joy shaken up into youthful bodies and youthful voices. I taste countless cig kofte wraps and potato bureks. I feel the satisfaction of making it up one of those winding, never ending hills on my bicycle. I feel the fear and joy of slipping down the other side, my hands hovering nervously over the brakes. I feel the morning rhythm of the ride into school, along the water, seeing shops open and the occasional car slip by. I remember the feel of my feet on the concrete as I ran up and up, to the very northern edge of the endless city, to watch the boats wait for passage.

A year later, my frustrations have faded. I no longer think about my time there and immediately feel vulnerable. I no longer feel angry that so many people tried to take advantage of us. Instead, I just feel the moments, and there were plenty of good moments. Plenty.

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