Like a stranger

I have locked myself up in my house for two days. Turned my table into a home office, and only briefly went out to get bread, cheese and fish. Okay, and wine. From behind the window of my living room, I have been watching the city. The Bosporus with ships passing by, the Besiktas stadium across the water, I can see the traffic going over there. I hear the city, too. Boat horns. The ezan, the call for prayer. Children playing. The street sellers passing by my house, selling simit, books, potatoes, and asking for second-hand stuff. The door bell rang, and I was happy it was only kids playing a prank, so I didn’t have to open the door.

I had been in my home country for ten days. I always long to go back to Istanbul, but the city also feels like a stranger when I return. It seems too big. I feel like I forgot the language. Like I forgot how to interact with the people. Like I’m not part of life here.

But I am. This is where I live. This overwhelming city is my home. I want to be here. But I just can’t immediately embrace it as soon as my feet touch the soil. I need time. A few days. Tomorrow Istanbul is mine again.

3 replies
  1. H
    H says:

    The city overwhelms me frequently (and not just when I’ve been away for a while). But I love it like no other place I’ve lived. As yet I have not worked out how to square the circle; something tells me I never will and that ultimately I’ll have to leave. But until then, every effort to be here feels worth it.

  2. Fréderike Geerdink
    Fréderike Geerdink says:

    Hoimir, the other way around is very different. I’m usually in the Netherlands for maximum ten days, I immediately have appointments and yes, it takes time to land but it feels very different. Because it’s so temporary. Or maybe also because in the Netherlands I still automatically fit in – but while I write that, I know that’s not 100% true anymore…


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