It took ten and a half trillion decades of crawling through sandy deserts and touching call-center operators on the tips of their noses with long, long poles (for extra stimulation) and hurdling over load-bearing donkey carts to settle back in Istanbul. WHAT A WEEK.
I arrived and went to Sea Palas. (Anna got me at the airport, it was nice.) I hadn’t been to sea palas since I ran away from it at the beginning of the year. It was literally right after new years and Jari and I stuffed all of my belongings into plastic bags and dumped it all at Anna’s place in Hasanpasa before fleeing to the Lycian Way. And this time, we had nowhere else to stay! Even though the spectre of Benal hovered over the place: she could appear at any time. Eyetouch accepted us in with welcoming arms. While anna slept off the jet lag, Eyetouch and I bought a double bottle of Papaz Kiraz and drank it in the park. Uskudar, a place of happy social conservatives and nice sea views.
“Benal is charging 1500 liras for rent, in September,” he said. “I am fucked man”
“Well,” I said. “If this place is any good, you can crash with us for a few days.” I’d found a place in Kadikoy for 2000 before flying over, it looked good enough on craigslist for at least a temporary shelter. Eyetouch made some comments about hating the rich, we looked at the wine and realized it was gone, and went home.
THUS BEGAN a long and arduous week of searching for A PLACE TO LIVE. I went down the next day to go check it out, and it was a misery. Like as soon as I opened the door it was like…ope, no this won’t work. It was a garbage hole. The turkish guy was wearing sandals, a t-shirt and shorts (which is very, very unusual for a turkish doode) and he ran a design company called Geyik Adam, “Deer Man.” It was small and smelled like BO. The bathroom was a mess of blue tiles and electronics. There was no way I could justify spending our (small) move-in fund on this place. None of us had much money–much was borrowed from parents or scrapped together from odd summer jobs. Deer Man was nice, too, he made me a big frappe with nescafe and ice cream. But no.
The next place I looked at seemed pretty nice. An american guy was renting it in Cihangir (for the uninitiated, that’s the trendy neighborhood on the european side near Taksim) and had exposed brick walls and a woodstove and lots of other design cues which might make a person think “gosh, I am an important artist living in a big city.” It was pricey, but the location was really good. Adam, the american guy, had a really strange accent from growing up all over the world. He was a film person and had spent the last 9 years in Istanbul.
“I want to tell you all the downsides of this place too–sometimes there are cat burglaries, so we got these bars installed on the windows. Once, we had some armenian friends sleeping on the floor, and a cat burglar came and my friend was using her laptop as a pillow, and it got stolen from right under her head.” Also the kitchen was no more than a couple of hotplates. Also it was all our money to move in, plus a deposit. I told him we’d have to split the deposit into two months, and he seemed okay with that.
I spent the next few days hanging out with eyetouch while both of us scoured the internet for places. He was using Sahibinden, a turkish site, and I used craigslist. I found a place for him in Tarabya, he found a place for us in Tarlibasi. Anna was already working, and Jari hadn’t arrived yet, so it fell on me to not be homeless. There was some holes in Besiktas, another place in Tarlibasi, a harem in Kadikoy that never replied to my emails, anyways. Four days of shuffling around the city and like a zombie staring at the interior of yet another building. It was more or less fruitless. I called Adam and told him I accepted the flat. He said great, come over and meet the neighbors, because the last renters had a little tension with them and we want a harmonious household. All in all, Adam was a little strange, but w/e. The problem was solved. Our timeline went something like this–it was tuesday night, I had a job interview at 1130 at the newspaper, Jari arrived in Taksim at 1200 from the airport, and then we would go meet the neighbors at 100. Alright.
So I get a text at nine pm from eyetouch. “Benal is bringing the emlak guy tomorrow morning, we’re fucked.” (eyetouch was a little depressed) I sort of wonder what would have happened had I stayed–would it have meant eyetouch’s job? it certainly would have been a weird confrontation with benal. I have had zero contact with her since I basically fled my employment and house 9 months ago. She’s evil. As proof: “She didn’t even ask how I was, or if I had found a new place man. Just, ‘oh, he is coming tomorrow morning.’ She is…inhuman.” (also, she hadn’t told the emlak guy eyetouch was still living there, just given him the keys…so when he opened the flat the next morning, he was shocked and apologetic to eyetouch. “I’m so sorry, she didn’t say anyone was here!” “it’s okay man, I’m used to it.”) Sometimes I wish I’d just stayed to see what happened, but man, once the fear is in, it’s IN. I shook Anna awake–she was feverish and barely responsive. It was a bad scene. “We gotta go, anna!” I said. “Emlak guy’s coming in the morning!” snooooooooooooooooze. Oh well. I threw all our stuff together and eventually she awoke enough to get dressed and help out. I told her to stay behind and rest and just vacate in the morning but she was determined on coming with me now.
Anyways Adam had called us earlier that night asking if we wanted to move some stuff in. I called back and said “yep! we’re coming right now!” (adam and his wife had a flat somewhere up the golden horn (how do these people have so much money???) and were around taksim that evening). Crucially: I did not say “we are staying there tonight.” I figured it would be easier to explain in person. We took a taxi to taksim (funny, right) and met adam and his boring friend caterina and they helped us with our stuff. Adam’s wife was in the apartment. The power had gone out through all of Beyoglu and so we walked up candlelit stairs and set our stuff down. We had a lovely little chatting time around a candle in the living room, and I thought, man, only in Istanbul. It was pretty magical.
Of course, I left to get some pilav and upon my return it had all gone to shit. “Anna tells us you’re planning on staying here tonight.”
“Well, we had a sort of desperate situation.” I laid it out for them what was going on with Eyetouch, and the Sea Palas, and Benal. I figured it would probably be alright.
“Have you ever had a flat before?” they asked. “Normally you shake hands, exchange money and keys, that sort of thing before moving in.” They got cold, especially the wife. They were saying that they didn’t trust us now because we hadn’t been straightforward with them on the phone, that they wanted us to stay in a hostel that night, but we were still going to rent there? and all our bags were staying here? none of it made any sense. I was super apologetic but nothing really seemed to penetrate. They found us a hostel and then kicked us out on the street at one in the morning. Anna and I convened in the bathroom, the only place we could have a private conference in the building.
“That was bullshit, right?”
“I’ll call them tomorrow. Get some sleep.”
The next morning I called adam and told him how much it sucked. “you invited us over to deposit our stuff there and then kicked me and my feverish girlfriend out at one am. I really didn’t think it was a huge transgression to assume we could sleep there too.” He admitted that his wife had some trust issues–their last renters had tried to pull a bizarre scheme in which they stole the building and then sold it (????????) and it had made her jumpy. Clearly. I told him it wasn’t going to work out. I went to the job interview (it went well) and picked Jari up in taksim.
“Do we have a place?” He asked.
“well,” I said. I laid the story out. He looked depressed.
“Can you work it out with these people?” He asked.
“Yeah maybe, but I saw an ad for a place in Kadikoy which I’m looking at later today. It’s cheaper, though it has grandma furniture.” We checked Jari into the same hostel me and anna had been kicked into, and then I walked a block away to meet adam and he helped me move all the luggage into the hostel. Me and Jari chilled there all day until we went across to Asia to meet Tarik, a really nice and normal dude who was renting flats for his family. We chose the third one and called it a day. We spent the weekend doing absolutely nothing and celebrating Jari’s 24th birthday, in Istanbul.
my job is a little strange–it hasn’t started yet–it turns out it’s doing copyediting of bad turkish translated articles for Bugun, the newspaper. It’s telecommuting and i’m on call from 12-9pm six days a week, once it does start. It’s weird. I was sort of hoping for a job with some more sociality but this one pays pretty well. We’ll see. Hustlin’ in the big city and all. I’m planning on building towards something this year, maybe applying to grad school, I want to put together a crazy show in an abandoned lot somewhere. and of course finish the book. and play music on the street and in bars with my bro. he went playing by himself yesterday and made 36 lira and met a violinist for the opera and got hired to play a photography studio opening. things are looking pretty up, in general. our flat is really nice. I’ll put up some pictures on facebook soon.