There was one night that some of us were coming back from a dinner at Ciya. We were on the ferry ride home when a blond Turkish woman sat across from me and told me I had beautiful eyes. I quickly thanked her and told her likewise. She laughed and stuck her finger in her eye to slide her fake contact over and shrugged. “Fake”, she said. We did our best to keep up a conversation with her, her boyfriend, and her cousin. They were a real riot and definitely a little crazy. There was lots of laughter and hand motions going on. At one point, the conversation was directed towards the tattoo on her forearm that read “The And”. She laughed embarrassingly and said it was a mistake. She had meant to get a tattoo that read “The End” as a result of a rough break up, but her accent and imperfect english resulted in a tattoo that instead read “The And.” It was a classic mistake. Our friend Justin was quick to console her by pointing out how poetic the statement really was. The And. Keep moving on. And then what? It’s like the brainstorming game “yes, and” that teaches you to say yes to all ideas, no matter how crazy they are. Build off what you have.
When I reflect back on my time in Rome and Istanbul it feels like I have been handed one big “YES, AND”. Both cities have thrown so many ideas at me, both good and bad, and now I have to use this information to inform and inspire my future. They have taught me so much about myself and my interests that I know I won’t be able to ignore their influence. Whether it is the drying rack in our kitchens in Rome, the signage used for the bus systems there, the mere kindness found in most of the people of Istanbul, the lack of railings and screens found in Turkey, or the real beauty that are Islamic muqarnas, these (and many more) ideas will stick with me the rest of my life.
Saying goodbye to Istanbul for the last time was like saying goodbye to an old friend or professor. It changed my life for the better an although I know I will see it again, I do not know how far away that moment is. So I left the city cheesily thinking that it was not the end, but simply the and.