On November 3, my little family of four packed eight years into five suitcases and flew from San Francisco to Istanbul.
Our temporary apartment was just right with a panoramic view of the city. We enrolled our two girls in an international school, walked the hilly streets and avoided traffic by taking the metro. We had to tackle Turkish bureaucracy for our immigrant visas and on the way to the migration office, I forgot to watch my step and fell hard on a cracked sidewalk fracturing my foot. This was a sign that I needed to rest after a hectic year in California.
It didn’t dampen my spirit because coming to Istanbul had been my plan for the last five years. But plans are cloudy dreams. Too many obstacles prevented its realization until now.
My father suffered from Alzheimer’s and kidney failure for 10 years, my husband had to finish his education, and I had to conquer my own fears of moving my children to another country. But after my father’s death in July, I was determined to come despite all the warnings from friends and family that security was worsening, that the environment was unfriendly to journalists and life was becoming harder.
These were all challenges I was willing to take on, and as soon as I arrived – this is my fourth time visiting and first time living here – I fell for all of Istanbul’s imperfections, a city that has enraptured so many writers before me. There’s a story in every corner, and I want to hear it. Turkey is in the midst of all the transformations and wars, and Istanbul, one of the most resilient places in history, is the personification of the changes to come. I have so much to witness.
But before I’m ready to tackle Constantinople, I have to heal an aching foot. So I will look at the view through our window and count my blessings.