She starts from…

by totalcontrivance

She starts from the end sometimes; sometimes it is a better place from which to begin. Her ending happened in the cab of the way to the airport. She had worked herself up into sweat and frenzy with the stress of a dysfunctional Canadian credit card upon attempting to pay for her one-month stay at Hotel Bilinc. She has to say it was the most stressed she had felt during her time in that city. Thankfully, one eternally helpful patron (so named by the hotel staff for her organizational skills and her commanding presence) and fourth mother (fourth because the other three strings have already been claimed by our subject’s biological mother and two other fundamentally inspirational women who she encountered earlier on in life) by the name of Colleen Stricker, supplied an American telephone with which she called the card company to get the capital flowing again. The man on the line sounded like a robot and lacked sympathy for a sweaty, breathless little girl struggling to pay out what she owed. Despite all this, Mr. Emire, the sole fluent English speaker and manager of the Hotel Bilinc, had actually agreed to accept a deposit of $300 USD, credit card numbers, and an oath that a wire transfer would be sent upon her arrival in Spain that evening. However, this proved unnecessary due to the competence of the patron and the indifferent concession of the robot voice on the phone.

After a tight, quick embrace that would never be long enough, she broke away from Colleen, heading up the street to Laleli where a taxi waited with her bags already loaded. They agreed upon a fee of 45 Turkish Lira and she settled into the back seat as they moved out into traffic, yet the streets were strangely clear on this Monday morning in Istanbul. She had asked for the cab to come a couple of hours earlier than necessary because she feared the infamous traffic—perhaps the city will not let me go! Yet the ride only took about a half hour—you are released, it whispers, over and over.

She sees the eyes of the driver in the rearview mirror and wonders about him. He speaks some English and they exchange a few niceties about how the first few hours of the day have gone (at least for her.. it may have been the last few hours of his day and she will never know. Time is not the same for all; day and night speak to each one in different voices). The radio is on and plays the same American pop that she has been confronted with every morning in Bilinc’s Breakfast Room (the amount of time spent eating, reading, sleeping and laughing in this fluorescently lit room imposes capitalization on the name), a source of mild entertainment that they had half abhorred and half enjoyed—particularly Carly-Rae Jepson’s Call Me Maybe as exemplary of Canadian musical contributions on an international scale. In fact, the pop had become more familiar to her in Turkey than it ever would have at home in Canada, as she tends to follow her father in sticking the dial to the CBC and its static-y charm, and she closes her eyes, feeling wind move through her hair and glimpsing the last views of the Bosphorous and the many ships in harbor through lash-bordered, drowsy windows. And then the music stops, and without opening her eyes again, she knows that the driver has noticed her slipping into something near sleep and offers her a peaceful silence. Perhaps he is appreciative of the opportunity to silence Rihanna for a brief time. But this taking notice is indicative of something special about many of the Istanbul-ites she has encountered in the past weeks, people who will go out of their way to help you find where you need to be (in this case, he helped her get to a dream plain, and from dream plain to airplane. Sleep, in those moments of transitional movement, made the journey seem a bit surreal. Where was she, where has she been, where is she now, and why has it been so easy to get from one point to another? Of course, it has been anything but easy, but the silent dream transition gave a certain illusion). And so, her Istanbul ended with his gesture, his taking notice and his offering of peace. Stepping out of the cab and entering the airport, she had already taken leave of the city; the airport is a suspended space, not a part of Istanbul as she knows it (and she knows it in a way that is meaningful, but not concrete). 

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