Oh man, the only problem with Istanbul is that I never want to leave. I just love this place. The smells, the sounds, the music, the noise, the food, the people, everything. Well, it’s easy to answer my perpetual question this week….
I’m trying to find a way to justify staying in Istanbul, bringing my wife and child here, and making our life in Turkey really work.
I’m also living in a hotel for a month. Not some fleabag hotel either, a nice hotel. I remember reading about Henry Miller, George Orwell, Hemingway, Kerouac, Burroughs and all those other deadbeat writers I love and wondering how the hell they managed to live in hotels. I’m still not sure how they did it – but I guess I’ve figured out my own way.
Tourism and travel consulting. That combined with web development and social media skills mean that I’m living in a pretty nice hotel and enjoying most of my meals being paid for, earning some money and didn’t even have to pay for my flight. How’s that for the writer life? The key is to diversify – nobody pays for a writer to live in a hotel for a month just so he can write (at least nobody I know) but I suppose Orwell was doing the dishes, Burroughs was shooting smack, and Miller was borrowing money…so we all have our means towards an end.
So, here I am, just kind of amazed at everything Istanbul offers up to me. In Morocco, I tend to be pretty solitary – I don’t have a lot of friends there. Some, but I don’t see them all the time and I’m not particularly enthusiastic to wonder around Morocco these days. It’s beautiful and exotic, etc etc etc – but it all starts to look, taste, smell, sound and feel the same to me – especially around Sefrou and Fes. Morocco holds two things for me really, my wife and daughter.
But Turkey – Istanbul? I never get tired of it. All I have to do is walk around a corner and there is something extraordinary and completely different…any corner. So, I’m dreaming and scheming and working and plotting and figuring out six different plans to figure out a way to stay here, to bring my wife and daughter here.
Here in Istanbul – I have friends. Turkish friends, American friends who used to live down the street from me, classmates from the University of Hawaii, writer friends, old neighbors, friends who used to be my students, friends I’ve worked with, and more. And we don’t have to sit in just one cafe – we can go for lunch, dinner, beers, drinks, go to the cinema and watch movies in English, take boat rides on the Bosphorus, take the overnight train to Bulgaria, take a bus to Antalya, go to Thessaloniki, go to the Black Sea, cruise the Aegean, visit any of about 300 museums, take a ferry to Bursa and go skiing, or just sit around and drink tea or raki.
Yes, I tend to rhapsodize about Istanbul. The call to Prayer is beautiful instead of grim, the Istanbulu are dressed to the nines, the fruit is cheaper, the clothes are cheaper, the rent is more, but hey- it is Istanbul and so it’s worth it, actually.
So, what am I doing besides rhapsodizing? I’m working on websites, writing, walking, connecting with friends, comparing technical notes with other guys that work on websites and are much better at it than I am (I can’t do that in Sefrou) and scouring the online postings for the perfect little apartment to move my family into since I can’t stay in the hotel for ever.
But hey, how cool is it that I am living in a hotel in Istanbul for a month? Did I ever think this would happen? No way, my 40 year old self is way cooler and doing way cooler things than my 20 year old self or 30 year old self ever imagined. And yes, it does all seem like a fairy tale. And yet, this fairy tale really is my life.
Which reminds me – I finally published another fairy tale from what seems like long long ago. The Princess and the Vagabond.
It’s not exactly a story for children since it contains some very adult situations, some extremely violent monkeys, and more. The story begins “Once upon a time…” though and it does contain a Princess, a Vagabond, Evil Monkeys, black magic, and more. It’s well worth the read.
Hard to believe my life has come so far and changed so much since I wrote that, but I suppose that is what life does. Especially when you live this kind of traveling life that opens up doors most people never even get to see. So, that’s What I am doing here…at least this week.
Next week…well, who really knows? Not me.