And it rained all night and then all day

The evening starts innocently enough. I head out of the huge spinning doors at work and walk the short distance to the dolmus stop. For some reason I am feeling extra indecisive today. Dolmus after dolmus going to Besiktas passes by but I reject them all. One is too full. I don’t like the color of the other one. Finally, annoyed with myself, I jump into the next Besiktas dolmus that arrives.

Seconds into the ride, the passengers are yelling at the driver. Although they are speaking in Turkish I am confident they are saying something along the lines of “You jerk! Why are you driving like a maniac?!” If you know anything about riding in taxis or dolmuses in Turkey, you know that the default is really crappy driving. So, you can imagine how bad this guy had to be driving to get a bunch of Turks riled up.

After many near accidents we came close to my stop. Then we had an actual accident. As the driver swerved to pass someone, he slammed into another car. As if in slow motion, my body lunged forward. My two knees slammed straight into the metal bar in front of me. I gasped for breath and then looked down to see if my legs could still possibly be attached to my body. Still there. Whew.

After a good amount of swearing and yelling, the driver continued on his way. I stumbled out of the dolmus feeling each painful step. Luckily I had on three inch heels. And the whole walk home is on cobblestone. And their was bumper to bumper traffic so everyone could watch me walking like an idiot. I used every ounce of concentration I had to ignore the pain and try to maintain my balance. To no avail. I fell forward five feet. Again, in slow motion. As every person in that stand still traffic gawked on. Thankfully, I had on a fabulous outfit. Whew. Again.

After pulling myself together, I looked up to see a group of three guys standing a few feet ahead of me. Throwing back beers. In this Muslim country. During Ramadan. As the Azan went off in the background. I wanted to cry. 

At home I nursed my knees which were actually feeling much better after the initial shock. Even though it was a lot of fun to sit in bed and pout about how much my life sucked and how much I missed Feraz, I dragged myself out of bed and forced myself to go hunt for dinner. I told my roommate I would be back in ten minutes. 

I passed about 84 restaurants that all looked unappetizing and kept walking. Even after fasting all day, I couldn’t find one place where I wanted to get food. Soon I was about fourty minutes from home standing in front of an everyday shop. Once every few days I go into this shop, ask the price of something and then don’t buy it. I am pretty sure the store owners want to throw a rock at my head.

But again, I walked in. I spotted the umbrellas. I needed an umbrella. Perfect. The store owners eyed me suspiciously. I was actually holding an umbrella. (It was my roommates.) They had no faith I would purchase their umbrella. They turned away and paid attention to people who were more likely to be actual customers. I cooly walked up to the counter and laid down a ten lira note. The umbrella was mine for 6.5 liras! Their shock was priceless. 

And then, the universe showed me how uncool I was. An incredible down pour came out of nowhere. It was like some faucet in the sky was on full blast. It mocked my two umbrellas. Even ten umbrellas would have been useless! It was the craziest rain I have ever seen. I ran across the road to take refuge in an outdoor cafe where I could watch this incredible show. In the huge outdoor section of the cafe everyone was crammed against the walls, staying close to the only seemingly dry spots outside. But there was one table in the middle of it all that was somehow staying dry. All around it there was rain falling down and like the opposite of an oasis, it stood completely dry in this sea of rain. I quickly sat down at it and ordered my dinner and tea. I felt like I was in a secret fortress. The rain fell down on all sides of me and sitting there in the middle of it all, I kind of felt like a superhero. 

For a good hour I sat at this table, slowly sipping turkish tea and watching the world try to run from the rain. There was a huge parade of the cheap five lira umbrellas that everyone buys off the street when there is an unexpected rain. Couples were huddling close to each other. Some laughing, others just trying not to get wet. Behind them the Bosphurus shone in the night. There was the smell of cigarettes wafting through the garden. There was that strange, calm feeling that comes with an incredible storm. It was one of the most magical experiences of my life. 

Finally, the rain slowed down a bit and I started the long walk home. The rain continued to come down, more lightly now. The sidewalks had huge puddles everywhere. Night had fully descended. Somehow life felt incredibly different from how I had ever known it. Each cobble stone step I walked on seemed like a part of a bridge I was crossing. And though I cannot explain it, this night when the worst floods in Istanbul’s history destroyed so much in parts of the city, it felt like an awakening, a renewal and a rebirth. Here’s to being born again and again. To always, always getting out of bed and meeting life. Even when our knees are incredibly weak! 

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