I will try to put it lightly. Traveling overseas is akin to getting lost in the dark. Like stepping into another realm that is pitch black and every voice telling you where to go is in a foreign language. It is a time warp, the most difficult thing I have done to date. Aside from airplanes and time changes, there’s a feeling of complete alienation. Maybe it is because I am American. We view our country (even subconsciously) as the center of the universe. Our universe. But, this world is huge and even being in Istanbul for 36 hours has opened my eyes and my head to the connectivity of the large and beautiful Earth in which we live. There is an overwhelming feeling that will not leave me, almost as though I am drowning. It is not sad, more like pressure, an anxiety—to be so naked in the eyes of others. To be seen merely for what I am–an American. An English speaker. A woman. A name.
Aside from all this, I cannot get over the fact that I AM HERE! Istanbul. You see pictures in books, but to be here, to smell this air, to see the incline of the hills marked by rooftops, to be awoken from a nap by the daily prayer call that plays through the city, its rhythmic chanting, to hear cats fighting in the street, to pass men and women walking arm in arm at their leisure, to stand on the rooftop of my dorm, see the Bosporus Bridge illuminated, Asia on the other end, is something else.
Last night my roommate, neighbor, and I sat in a square around the corner from our building on stools and ate fish bread. They’re made right there in the street on a barbecue grill. Later on, after napping, we went to a hookah bar and smoked water pipe, as the Turks call it. It was lovely, like lounging in the living room of the owners. Everyone who came in and out, all men, greeted one another so warmly. We sipped tea and talked about languages and all the sublimity involved in understanding and translation.
There is so much more to write about, but I will save it for the days to come.