#2, January 2, 2012
I am fed up. I was already fed up actually, but today, with only six days left to go and many friends still not visited, I have the urge to write it down. Istanbul is no longer my city; Istanbul is an ex with a bad break-up.
My relationship with pain was never with relief. I am not one of those who do whatever he can to ultimately avoid pain. I used to easily coexist with it. There were moments of prolonged adolescence where I took pain as “my fuel in life”, and although those days are long past now, I still acknowledge the power and importance of pain. In addition, as I have written before, I found a way to cope with pain in a sweet city to start learning how to cherish life.
Istanbul, however, is such a bitch that it could not stand my “cured” persona, and treated me worst ever: To, most probably, take revenge, it reintroduced the omnipresent pain engrained in herself. And although I no longer live here and now I am an outsider to this city, I am still able to notice and point out painful details of Istanbul life, and it totally ruins the whole experience of holiday and visiting friends.
As stated in the first entry of these chronicles, most of my friends are undergoing an intriguing depression in their lives and they don’t hold themselves back from expressing their resentment on my face– the tourist who came from far away after a very long time. Their fragile emotional state must have turned them into discomfort-disseminators, and their “”life” is not making my “experience” well-pursued at all.
Secondly, my inclination of hearing life not from my friends but from other people that I see on the streets, my personal preference of using public transportation, my sweet but unachievable quest for used books have taken me to many different conversations and over-hearings. What I used to notice, while I was living here, was anger—people shouting on the phone, shopkeepers cursing after a difficult customer, football fans beating other team’s fans. This time, I heard pain openly expressed by people: A shopkeeper gave me a 4-minute long monologue (uninterrupted by me, the fascinated habitant of the purgatory between local and foreing) about how he can no longer support his family despite his corner shop in the middle of Cagaloglu,; a fifth grader failed selling her used text books and her father couldn’t afford buying new ones; a girl who sat by me in Starbucks told her correspondent on the other side of the phone how her New Year’s Eve had been a disaster full of quarrel and beating with her ex; another girl passed by me in Kadikoy crying her eyes out. I was not only doomed to hear and understand all these, but I also carried them home with me. They kept me in an emotional limbo, where I constantly felt like I drank a venti Americano to an empty stomach. I felt like crashing or even passing out emotionally but something also kept me awake, and maybe even too awake.
The cherry on top has been the music, something I earlier had noticed, recognized, and admitted, but also forgotten. Last year, in a state of homesickness, I told my friends in Istanbul that they had the luxury of pain in that city. They constantly listen most painful songs, but they also could defer their blues with a good table of friends and raki—something not easily generated abroad. Anyway, this year, I noticed almost every producer is up to taking advantage of this obsession with pain. I watched a rock video where the singer was in a grave, singing how she dag her grave herself. Another “pop” video followed. A well-groomed male singer was singing a very high-beat song, with a smile in his face, but the lyrics were his cry of incapability of making people’s demands of “more” from him. And finally, I found out that one of my favorite singers, Goksel made a song called “It hurts”, and she sings this line over and over, with her melancholic and melodramic voice. The worst part in this experience is, I believe, my ongoing awe although I had had realized this long before. In my self-imposed amnesia, I probably enjoyed, deep down, this nostalgia for my prolonged adolescence. I may claim myself pain-free but the reality is not that clear-cut.
The pain rarely brings me to burst. I always burn inside within. But this time, due to my heavily altered life in Arizona, I cry that I am fed up. I am fed up with this city’s sickening relationship with pain, and I no longer hold my subjectivity back. When I first moved here, I used to refrain from complaining just because I probably was not the one to criticize this unique city. That’s why I never joined my comrades from Smyrna who used to start complaining about Istanbul the moment they step in it. Those days of respecting Istanbul for its potent place in history have passed, and my personality totally rejects its magnificence. I was never a usual-Smyrnian, I always liked Istanbul more than I did Izmir—which is extremely rare in our breed; but I feel that I am done with it. Interestingly, in a holiday of which I spent only four days in Izmir, this is the day I go back to my roots, and start hating Istanbul with all my guts.
I am fed up, and I am taking no more your BS, Istanbul.