A New Normal

Posted on Jul 22, 2016 in Personal, Turkey | 12 Comments

Istanbul coup

“My soul, my beauty, my dolorous one, the day of disaster is at hand, come to me no matter where you are, mayhap in an office thick with cigarette smoke, or in the onion-scented kitchen of a house redolent with the smell of laundry, or in a messy blue bedroom. No matter where you are, it’s time, come to me; now is the time for us to wait for death, embracing each other with all our might in the stillness of a dark room where the curtains are closed, hoping to lose sight of the awesome catastrophe that is fast approaching.”

Orhan Pamuk, ‘The Day The Bosphorus Dries Up’

Istanbul is a city that is prone to earthquakes, but the last week has proven again that shifting instability here isn’t always in the earth.

Honestly, I don’t want to write about it. After the Sultanahmet bombing I wrote a piece here, and after the Istiklal attack I wrote a piece (that I’m particularly proud of) for Context Travel, but even though both attacks affected my life–and especially my job– in deep and upsetting ways, this is different and more full of dread. I feel like I’ve been swimming in fog for the last week, oozing thoughts and feelings but unable to articulate them. Most days, I wake up so sad. I realized early on that I was not going to get that much work done this week and self-care would have to be the priority.

And yet, I think I can’t post the pieces I have set to go without acknowledging that the city I love and the life I live have entered uncertain times. There was a moment–or maybe many– on that terrible Friday night when I realized that life as I’ve lived it would never be the same; there was a new normal coming, a deeply unpredictable one. I spent that night in my apartment and my memories are a jumble of sounds and phone calls: the muezzin calling from the mosque all night at all the wrong hours, the horrifying rumble of fighter jets overhead, the sonic booms that sounded like bombs; hysterical crying from a friend in Ortakoy, pleas for me to leave from a trusted friend in New York, and my own barely-concealed fear during calls to a friend documenting the coup on the bridge. It was a shared nightmare and the hangover from all of it hasn’t really subsided yet.

Istanbul coup

So I am doing what I can. I’m spending time with friends in cafes, I’m going to art installations, I’m watching frivolous movies, I’m eating desserts. I’m filling up my days with humans and hugs.

And I’m going to post all the normal wonderful things I was planning on. There’s one coming about a hidden botanical garden, another about beautiful things, eventually one about the Lycian Way. Though I sincerely hope not, I realize it’s possible that someday this blog will be a document of a past life, a way that was.

For now, it’s still my life. The Bosphorus hasn’t dried up yet.

12 Comments

  1. Emma
    July 22, 2016

    I’m thankful for you, friend, and am happy to hear that you’re prioritizing self-care. Do all the frivolous things!

    Reply
    • Katrinka
      July 23, 2016

      I am thankful for YOU, my friend! Being in constant touch with you that night was one of the things that got me through it.

      Reply
  2. Ryan W
    July 22, 2016

    Hugs.

    You are amazing. I’m thankful we are friends.

    Keep posting. I can’t wait to keep reading. :-)

    Reply
    • Katrinka
      July 23, 2016

      Thank you Ryan! I am going to keep on keeping on, especially with the blog. It’s therapeutic :-)

      Reply
  3. Farhad
    July 22, 2016

    Dear Katrinka ,

    I can still remember the first day I saw a post from you on Facebook about Istanbul a city I fall in love thanks to you . Every empty creepy building you visited ,Every stray cat you loved and every wild path you took to discover a secret beach or fountain or French picnic ‘s I felt as your reader I was there thank you so much for everything however important thing is for you to be safe its not required from Alice to stay in her wonderland forever and if time comes that Istanbul becomes a past life you stay strong you move on to find a next adventure as long as your safe n healthy you will always discover a magical place anywhere .Take care of you

    Reply
    • Katrinka
      July 23, 2016

      Farhad, your constant support and encouraging words are something I look forward to! It really felt like we’d gone through the looking-glass last week. I’m not moving on quite yet, but even considering it is something new for me. I would like to stay in this wonderland city a bit longer!

      Reply
  4. Suzanne Fluhr
    July 22, 2016

    We visited Turkey last March and did a 7 day small geoup G Adventures tour. We loved the experience and our English speaking Turkish guide and van driver were wonderful, open people. I am so afraid for Turkey. Military coups against democratically elected governments are discouraging, but so is martial law imposed by a democratically elected, aurocratic strong man. I hope we are not heading down that path in the US. Stay safe. Let’s hope the world comes out the other side of these troubling times.

    Reply
    • Katrinka
      July 23, 2016

      Suzanne, I’m so glad you visited Turkey and got to see what a special place it is, and how special Turkish people are. We’re not in martial law yet– a small comfort, I realize– but of course political instability is disorienting and worrisome. (Though clearly a successful coup would have been a terrible, terrible thing and everyone I speak with here is relieved it didn’t come to that.) I was so tired of reading about the coup, and then the RNC happened and I wanted to read about that even less– I worry about the US on a deeper level, because I can always leave Turkey. I hope our country doesn’t give in to its darker impulses.

      Reply
  5. Amanda
    July 22, 2016

    I love you and I love Istanbul. I understand this and all of your feelings so well. <3

    Reply
    • Katrinka
      July 23, 2016

      I love you too and I have always loved your palpable enthusiasm for this city. Come back to visit, eventually!

      Reply
  6. Lauren
    July 23, 2016

    Beautifully written post, Katrinka. I read headlines concerning Turkey with baited breath these days. I hope you remain resilient in spirit and as long as you keep posting, we, as your readers, will keep reading, and we’ll continue to see the best of Turkey.

    Reply
    • Katrinka
      July 23, 2016

      Thank you Lauren, that means so much to me. I don’t want people to forget that Turkey (and Istanbul) is more than just the violent headlines. And I have been so heartened to be reminded that people are reading here, and caring, and connecting. So, again, thank you.

      Reply

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