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Tucson, rain, and love. by bayripley
09/11/2012, 04:40
Filed under: the city | Tags: , , , , , ,

I wrote before what can happen when rain falls on this city. Today, the day that started with a great promise, it happened again. It rained in Tucson, and I found something else in life.

I have been reading Susan Miller, a famous astrologist, for the last three years. I knew she was great in describing which signs match well with each other, but I had no idea how foreseeing her monthly forecasts were. Many times, I found myself in awe at the end of a month as I reread her forecast. She knew exactly what would happen that month. When I shared my experiences of Miller with friends in Turkey, I recruited a great deal of fans. In America, the reaction was different, though. Although most of my American friends didn’t really know what “Enlightenment” or “Cartesian thought” meant, they were perfect examples of them, in a way. At least when they encountered Astrology, their smirk signaled their latent ridicule.

This month, Susan wrote that I would find the long expected love today, on November 8. Because Saturn was in the house of love for my sign, the last two years have been hell for my heart. She called this period, the time of learning. I will say she was right. I don’t remember an undisturbed moment of love for the last three years. There were moments when I said, “Yes, this is it! This is the love I have been waiting for all my life” And they were immediately followed by a disenchanting moment. (The zenith was waking up from an evening full of love in Istanbul, feeling how much I was loved, and before having my coffee, receiving an email of acceptance to the University of Arizona.) I learned a lot in the last three years, with lots of mistakes, and tears.

But November 8 was supposed to be the end of it, she said. Miller had written that October was the month in which love reemerged in my life. But she precisely said November 8 was the date I would find the love for which I have been shivering with anticipation.

I went to school. No sign of love. I went to classes. No sign, again. I came home, nothing on the road. I went to bed alone and fell asleep around 4pm in the afternoon, instead of falling in love and going to bed with my “lover.” (Please read the last word with Carrie Bradshaw’s tone when she described Petrovsky to others for the first time.) I woke up, totally devastated, and went for a run.

I got out of my apartment, ran towards the campus, and then took a northbound turn on my favorite street in Tucson, Mountain Avenue. I was in my usual pace, thinking how Tucson hell has been cooling down lately, and what a great running companion Santigold is. I had forgotten about the failed prophecy of Miller, and another day without me finding love. Then, bam. It started raining.

All of a sudden, the amazing scent of the rain and soil’s love filled my nostrils. In every step, I was getting a different scent. With one step, I remembered how I used to wander in the garden of my grandmother’s summerhouse after she watered the geraniums and four o’clocks. With another, I remembered how my best childhood friend went frantic after I articulated my love for the smell of earth after rain. She was so alarmed that she immediately warned me that I was never supposed to say that, as it could mean one’s desire to die, given the ritual of watering the grave after burial. With one more step, I remembered all those rainy Istanbul afternoons where I found myself at the stairs of Galatasaray University, looking at the Bosporus, with a similar scent around and myriad of thoughts about love and friendship, or both, in my mind. The last chunk of memories was a complicated –and drunk- one, covering our outings at a bar, which played Turkish Pop from the 1970s and 1980s. All those moments were pure happiness, though very heterogeneous in nature.

The rain got faster, and I ran home faster than usual. As I ran, I thought maybe the rain was supposed to me the love of my life. It connected me with my past life, it made me very happy, and it is actually rare in Tucson. What would one look for more in a love?

When I arrived home, I realized that I didn’t need to fall in love with my Proustian madeleine to prove an astrologist correct in life. I know one day I will find love, either while running apace or lazily laying on my couch. If it is real love, it won’t matter.



“You can forget the words, not the eyes.” by bayripley
05/07/2012, 22:48
Filed under: music, the city | Tags: , , , , , ,

As you would remember from some previous entries, I take music as a conveyer of my personal past. Due to my shark-like nature, my past does not only consist of time periods but also different cities. A la recherche de mon temps perdu, music defines eras, therefore geographies. That’s why a song can take me to the museums of Paris, humid mornings of Augusta, beautiful campus of Middlebury College or a drunken festival night on the Bosporus.

In a day or two, I will publish three entries about my visit to Istanbul in December 2011. There, with awe, you will see how Istanbul and the meanings it encompasses in my life are in constant change with time. Although I no longer live in Istanbul, this city still holds such a potent and influential place in my life that, it can change meaning even if I only visit it now.

Me in Istanbul, December 2011. During “the horrible experience”

Due to my horrible experience back in December 2011, I had removed Istanbul from my life for the last four months. I barely thought about the city, had only a couple of Sykpe conversations with my dear friends still residing in that behemoth, and did not listen to a single song that is directly related to the imperial city in my personal universe of signifiers. It was tough, and full of remorse. I had spoken big when I talked about “never leaving Istanbul/Istanbul never leaving me”. My relation with the city came to a point where one side had to sacrifice a lot to reduce the pain resulting from this relationship. Of course, I was the one who had to sacrifice. And I had taken Istanbul out, maybe not completely out, but to an extent never explored before.

But on the day before my trip, on my way back from my first proper camping experience with the spiritual purification bestowed upon me by Mount Lemmon, I inadvertently played “Siyah Gozler” by Ezginin Gunlugu. A song from the very heart of Istanbul, dedicated to my quintessential pain felt for this city. Listen to the song; you will know what I mean.

It started as an “innocent” move to expose my friend some Turkish music. As I was imposing my patch-worked taste in music, I stumbled upon Ezginin Gunlugu and said, “Oh, you will love them. They are quite interesting.” I hit the play button unconsciously, and it took only five seconds to hit me back. All of a sudden, due to the amazing clarinet solo, as we were driving down the mountain, and the fauna was changing from pine trees to cacti, I was surrounded by Istanbul, the city I had removed from my life. I, there, realized I had been successful in exiling Istanbul away, and it was emotionally safe to recall it on such a moment.

Elif Shafak always compares and insistently contrasts Istanbul and Arizona, she calls them “two places on earth that could not be more different.” One time, she however noted, Arizona and Istanbul resemble each other in terms of “huzun”, the concept that is at the same time possible and impossible be translated to “la tristesse” in French, or “melancholia” in English, according to Orhan Pamuk. I agree, in both geographies, a sense of melancholia is omnipresent. Istanbul’s huzun is more consecrated to human interaction and its imperial past, while Arizona’s melancholia is more limited to contrasts, such as sun and shade, different definitions of border, and city’s eclectic architecture juxtaposing a skyscraper and a Mexican cathedral together.

Huzun is both similar and different in Arizona and Istanbul. The Oaks on Ciragan Caddesi and theSaguaro cacti on UA Campus share a common feeling not only in the habitants of Tucson form Istanbul but in a larger sense: just like paradise and hell, they share human.

As I am typing this entry on my way to Istanbul, not back, I am thinking how long will I have to individually struggle to tell people the commonalities of different geographies are much more than their differences. Since the beginning of humankind, some people may not be changing where they live from cradle to grave. But their fixed residual habits are miniscule, especially once compared to the traveling human element in every city’s content. The words we use can be forgotten, or ignored; but the eyes we see cannot be forgotten, or ignored. Especially when their universal humanity is considered.

For me, Ezginin Gunlugu also belongs to Arizona now. And Istanbul does not seem so vicious any more. Especially out of the plane’s window, when the Bosporus’ waters are shining like gold.