Weeks ago I got a nagging e-mail from my child-hood best friend Dana:
“I know you aren’t smarter than a fifth grader. New material, please?”
But the last month, a month I spent trying to figure out exactly how I was going to pack up all my stuff and move to Turkey, while fraught with stress, worry and adventure for me, doesn’t make terribly good copy. I apologize for the silence. If anyone wants the full story of How I Put Post-it-Notes On All The Furniture I Intend To Sell, or How I Stalked Overstock.com Until The Luggage Set I Wanted Was Twenty Dollars Cheaper, or How I Finagled It So I’d Be Employed Until I Leave, please write and I’ll send you a pamphlet.
Half the time when I think about Istanbul I’m all giddiness at the sheer adventure-ness of it. I picture myself gaily swishing around the city in a fetching skirt with a camera attached to my wrist and a note-pad in my purse, pausing every now and then to eat street vendor kofte or drink wine with a wealthy ex-pat, (in my head he’s usually Scottish) in an outdoor cafe, (am I confusing Istanbul with Paris? probably.) The other half of the time I think about the reality of trying to take public transportation in a city where I can’t read the signs, or about the difficulties I’ll face in finding employment, or about how something simple like going to the bank or post-office is bound to be a huge ordeal and I feel a sucking sense of panic, a dread certainty that after all, this is not a good idea.
“It’s going to be awesome!” everyone, my mother, my best friend says. “You’re going to have a great time!”
I doubt that, actually. Being perpetually lost and out of place is not actually fun for me, except maybe later when I’m chuckling about it over a glass of wine (one hopes with a wealthy Scottish ex-pat.) And the point isn’t even to have a good time. It’s to do something different, to shock myself out of the path I’m on, to explore new opportunities. It’s to look at buildings and vistas that are different from the buildings and vistas I usually look at. It’s to live somewhere where I don’t understand the culture or the social cues. The point is to have a time, period.
So quit telling me it’ll be fun, guys. I’m going anyway.
Yes, as of press time my passport papers have been mailed, my luggage set (twenty bucks off!) has been shipped, and I got the ticket. So it’s official: November 9, at 5:30 pm I’ll board a Lufthansa flight departing for Frankfurt. There I’ll catch another flight that’ll take me to Istanbul where at a little after noon Ellyn will be there to pick me up, and watch me closely to make sure I don’t wander off into traffic or anything.
And on another note, I’d like to take a moment to plug Kayak. I’m (currently) an unpaid spokesperson (but I wouldn’t say no if any Kayak people want to kick me a few bucks) but I have nothing but good to say about it. My sole criteria for a flight was that it 1. land in Istanbul and 2 be cheap. I didn’t care if I left from Baltimore, or New York, or Philly. I didn’t care if I flew multiple airlines or had twelve connections. That plus the week I was briefly interested in alternate transportation, (man, let me tell you, taking a cargo ship is ridiculously expensive!) added up to an awful lot of googling every day. Kayak, unlike its competitors, allowed me to enter up to four departure airports, and checked, I didn’t count actually but probably like a gazillion airlines, and sent me daily alerts. Within two weeks I had found a ticket for under five hundred, and the alert was easy to disable. Thumbs up, guys.