Home away from home

Last night I took the tram across the Golden Horn to "my" hotel, my home away from home in Istanbul. It feels strange for me to be in this city and not be staying there. I'm having a great time but miss waking up and knowing everyone and of course they take very good care of me there, but I'm not on vacation now so I have to forage for my own breakfast, lunch, and dinner and make my own bed.

As I walk up the hill to the hotel the first person I see is Serdar. Serdar has always made me laugh and I'm glad he's the first one I see, standing out front and looking down the street at me. I give a little wave and he hesitates and gives a little wave back and I can tell he has no idea who he is looking at. So I am laughing as I approach and finally he realizes who he is looking at and he gets confused and asks when I arrived. I tell him Friday, knowing that will really confuse him. So we talk for a bit and I explain that I have moved and at first he doesn't believe me but then he asks me where I’m living and what it’s like and what about my apartment in New York and says he is looking for a place but he couldn’t afford Cihangir where I live but he is impressed when I tell him how little I'm paying. He asks how long I'll stay and I say probably a year, if that’s alright and he says he’ll get back to me. Then Kedir comes out and asks me how I arrived without passing him at the desk, and then Hassan, and Adnan, and Ismael say hello and now I am feeling at home. Nihat is also sitting in the sidewalk cafĂ© and it is good to see familiar faces.

As I pass through the lobby I see a man I know must be Roger. He is wearing one of Mike’s scarves, so he can only be a good friend, and Alex told me she met someone named Roger the other night. I’ve heard a lot about Roger from Mike if this is indeed him so I consider saying “hi Roger!” just to freak him out a little but decide against it.

I walk upstairs and into the garden and look down into "the museum" and see a circle of people and Sucru in the middle throwing out rugs. I wave to Mike and he says “welcome to Istanbul!” I stay back a little, not wanting to walk through the circle and not sure if there are any seats on the other side, but Mike calls me over so I climb into a seat around the table. Coincidentally Trici, yet another American ex-pat, is here. I tell her Alex was just today showing me a picture of her at the cafe and calling her Theresa and I said "oh, TRICI! I know Trici from Mike's". For a big city (17 million or so) Istanbul can seem very much like a small town.

I’m so happy to see that they are looking at carpets. I see Mike put away his pointer so I know I’ve missed “the lesson” which is fun, but I’m glad to see “stuff”. He asks me if I brought my carpet with me and I say yes, of course. I know that when I find my own place here the first thing I will do is come right over and buy one of the big, plain, white, deep carpets. But as we’re looking at rugs I can feel my eyes getting wider and wider and my brain starts ticking—maybe I’ll need more than one… there is a beautiful red and blue and brown Kyrygyz rug I remember from before, he had it on the floor of the museum in February when I was here and something about it is calling me. You know you’ve found your rug when all the other ones that looked so amazing before are now so easy to dismiss. Maybe I’ll have the space and money for two rugs… No one asks how much it is but that is actually a relief as I can’t get it yet so am glad no one else is interested. I have seriously considered not having chairs and sofas if I can have great rugs to sit on, since I prefer the floor anyway.

Eventually food arrives but I've already eaten so I sit and chat with Roger in the sidewalk cafe while the others eat beside us or up in the garden. By 11:00 I am feeling sleepy and they are all still going strong, getting ready to go back up to the museum and look at textiles. I say goodnight to Roger and wave goodbye to Mike and as I slip away he asks if I know how to get back. I think "of course!" and am kind of proud of the fact that even with my non-sense of direction I do know where I am going. We'll just let it pass that when I stood up I had to think for a minute which way to go.

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