The official release date for Sezen Aksu’s album “Bahane” was February 16, 2005. I remember vividly though that it was in the record stores on Tuesday, February 14, 2005. It was a lonely Valentine’s Day, also a poor one so I had to wait until February 18, when my allowance would arrive from my parents. Those four days were painful. I would hear bits of the album from the shops of Istiklal Caddesi on my way to my apartment every evening, but I would turn up the volume of my Discman, to prevent ruining the incredible experience of listening to a Sezen Aksu album for the first time. The day came; I finished school at noon, left immediately. I was walking on Ciragan Caddesi towards Besiktas, thinking how lucky I was for going to the school I had dreamt all my life, learning the most romantic language on earth, and being about to listen to Sezen Aksu’s latest album.
I had no idea how this day would change my life forever. And maybe for the first time, Sezen Aksu had very little to do with it.
On the same spot where I had met “the loud girl from diplomacy club” a month ago, I received a text from her. Just like a month ago, she was inviting me to a party at her house. I knew my roommate’s weird classmates would be there, and I honestly didn’t want to go. I had a musical gem to discover, and I was finally able to purchase it. They were nice people actually, just like my roommate, but also a bit weird, just like my roommate. The depressed and short girl, the tall and loud Albanian girl, the cheerful gay kid, the pouty law school girl, the cool bald guy, and of course the loud girl from the diplomacy club. She probably had invited some other people, and I was dead sure she insisted relentlessly that they attended her party. I also knew that I couldn’t get myself out of this invitation. In text, she was saying that we would have fun just like last time (and I was saying inside: yeah, I will crack some graphic jokes making people think that I am total nutcase) and my roommate would also join us in the evening (and I was saying inside: yeah, as if his crazy girlfriend would let him join us.) Best thing about this party was that it started in the early afternoon. I could spend some time with them, drink a couple of beers, and then run off to Sezen Aksu’s “Bahane.”
I showed up with four beers in my hand, and they were extremely glad to see me. My roommate wasn’t there, and I was in equal distance to all the party attendees. All of them were sitting on the big, orange couch in the living room with drinks and munchies on the coffee table, and smoke was all around the house. They were playing some “alternative” music, which translated back then into Muse, Placebo, and Radiohead. They had the party started; I joined them with my beer in one hand and a ciggy in the other. I was having an OK time, thinking that attending this party actually turned out better than I expected. We had a great time for about four hours, and it was becoming late—at least for my album purchase. As they were about to have dinner and drink more, I told them I was leaving. My roommate was “still on his way to the party.”
Suddenly, the cheerful spirit of the party changed, and they were genuinely sad that I was leaving. I remember telling at least five lies contradicting with each other. I didn’t want to leave; I was having a great time. But Sezen Aksu was also waiting for me in a music store. When I left, I remember how I found my mind completely changed. I remember how much I wanted another party, and how much I would love to hang out with them, again.
I arrived to Taksim tipsy, bought the album, listened to the album as I chain-smoked. I fell in love with the album immediately, just like the rest of Turkey. That year, “Bahane” became the most selling album of the year producing super-emotional hits like “Eskidendi, Cok Eskiden” and “Ikili Delilik.” My night was complete with Sezen Aksu although my heart also wanted to be with my new weird friends.
I didn’t know this night was the simple summary of my last 8 years, my present, and probably my future. Those people, those weird friends I made through my roommate, with some additions and departures, became my family in Istanbul. Each one of them still holds an important part of my life or my memories or both. Most of them are still in my life, knowing every single detail of my everlasting academic struggle, wrecked love life, and perpetual drama. They are still the ones I make the first phone call to when I have the best and the worst news. They no longer hold these parties, especially in the early afternoon; but they still come together for me whenever I visit Istanbul.
However, no matter how much I love them, they can’t always be with me or answer the phone every time I call them. They have other lives at a different time zone than mine. In those moments, though very few, I turn on Sezen Aksu, and feel home, around my weird family. When my friends are sleeping or flying to Portugal, when I am running in the desert and they are defending people in courts, when I am teaching in the classroom and they are translating theory books, I heal their absence with Sezen Aksu with a beer in one hand and a ciggy in the other.