I want to write about mornings. Early morning, when the light’s still a little blue and the breeze has a light chill that evokes a twinge of nostalgia for something: the end of hot summers that spoke of school to come, waking up early in a tent or on a lake or for a peaceful journey through a city still mostly aslumber, a yearning for breakfast al fresco. When you step outside, the potential of the new day is palpable.
It was my first morning back in Europe, five years after I’d packed up my bedroom in Vauban, toured Aschaffenburg and Berlin each for a second time, and flown out of Frankfurt back to Michigan for my final year of college. I felt no fear or apprehension to be back in Frankfurt Flughafen. I ate a magnificent pretzel, messaged Emma on Facebook (she was still in Ukraine), and wandered to find my gate for the next flight—the flight to Istanbul. I’m not sure how we landed in Frankfurt; it was dark still on arrival, I think, but soon morning revealed the thick spooky fog out the terminal windows.
I alighted in Istanbul at one p.m., where my bag took forever to appear. Then, I couldn’t find anyone holding a sign with my name, for the taxi to my hostel in Sultanahmet. There were masses of people waiting to greet the arrivals, and masses more of arrivals; it was total chaos, and I didn’t like it one bit. A Turkish Ph.D. student from MSU who had been on both my flights, Detroit all the way to Istanbul, called the hostel and sorted it out for me. Once I arrived and checked in, a fog of sleep descended. I might have showered; I took an unavoidable nap. When I awoke, the last light was fading, and I ventured out to see the illuminated Hagia Sophia and find sustenance, but couldn’t shake the overly friendly guy who just wanted to practice his English with me over some tea. I went home hungry to the hostel, couldn’t sleep. After that first night, Emma and I had no reservations for anything.
On the second morning, I bought us plane tickets to İzmir for that afternoon, reserved the last available room at a recommended pansiyon (guesthouse) in Selçuk, wandered the gardens of the Sultan’s palace, and took a shuttle back to Atatürk International Airport, in search of meine Emma who was arriving from Odessa. When her face finally emerged from the crowd spilling out of the international terminal, I was so happy. She was wearing a striped sweater whose twin I had also packed for the trip. I hadn’t seen her in almost a year and a half.
Morning three in the Old World, morning two in Turkey, we climbed three flights of turning stone stairs to the pansiyon‘s terrace and picked out for ourselves one of the little circle tables. We sat down on our patch of the bench that circled the room, excited for day one of our vacation to begin. Soon, our breakfast feast arrived. Everything was perfect.