When I told my “special friend” in Istanbul (she refused to call herself my girlfriend) that I had decided to move there to take a teaching position for a semester, she smirked and said I wouldn’t last more than a couple of weeks. That was almost exactly ten years ago.
Since then, I’ve lost my cat and my dad, in that order. I racked up another academic degree. I’ve lived in three different houses. I’ve been through a couple more “special friends” and even a couple actual girlfriends. And I’ve kept the same job.
Since I’ve been here, I’ve learned a few things about Istanbul. One of those things is that the city and its women have a lot in common. And that no matter how much you know about both of these, it’s never enough.
One of the most striking things about Istanbul is that it seems hellbent on pumping you full of ambivalence. At first the foreignness of everything lets you deny the abusive and insane stuff, but over time you begin to lose sense of the things that you love. And that makes you feel your nose increasingly rubbed in the other stuff. This isn’t good. I arrived here with a ridiculous capacity for love — and love I did. Today, I’m not entirely sure I’m capable of the emotion.
Wait … I am capable of the emotion. I love my job and my students — even more so than when I first arrived. Teaching really is an honor. The more you do it, the better you get at it. And the better you get at it, the more you feel you are helping. And the more you feel you are helping, the more you love what you do.
I have no idea what the next ten years will bring nor whether they will be brought forth here or someplace else. I just hope they are as imperfect as the last ten so I can continue to learn and share bits of it.