While it is my favorite city in the world, it felt very very strange to come back to Istanbul.
Bits and pieces of my Turkish came back to me, which made bus conversation and scarf-haggling a bit easier. Wandering around Taksim was just as much fun as always, and I remembered most of the bus lines I used to use as well. I met some great people in the hostel, and saw more friends from Boğaziçi. Still, it felt strange.
I stopped in Poğaçacı a few nights ago for çay and to check my email (my way of communicating with the current denizens since I don’t have a Turkish SIM card) and I couldn’t shake the feeling that the keys to my old flat were somewhere in my coat pocket if I just fumbled around enough for them. I had automatically fallen back into the Hisarüstü mindset, where I had grocery shopping to do, people to meet for drinks, people to meet for kahvaltı, laundry to hang up, a kitten to play with, and a million other domestic things that made up my life here. I got sort of sad.
I got really attached to the city while I studied here, particularly to this tiny neighborhood with its students and families and never ending colonies of cats. That night in Hisarüstü, I met up with an old friend, only to run into another, and find another later, no less in our favorite bar, and I got a rush of a ton of feelings, sort of like when I first arrived in Istanbul. I think I was feeling all of how much I had missed Istanbul, and how much I was going to miss it once I left again, only all at once. Istanbul was the first place that was home just as much as home was, and I got incredibly homesick hearing about everyone’s lives and how many people had made the jump to live as expats. Even when I left for hardly 48 hours to see the acropolis of Pergamum, I felt like I had to go back home, back to Istanbul, as soon as possible.
I’m on a flight now to Athens. This morning someone asked me if I was sad to leave Istanbul, and I said that I was sad, but still sort of okay about leaving, because I knew that whenever I left and wherever I left to, I would always be sad to leave. People love all kinds of things, sports teams, cars, books, houses, hobbies like skiing, traveling, antiquing, writing. I love Istanbul, and it’s not like it’s the last time I’ll be back.