on cups of çay and paper fans

Day four in Bursa. It feels as though I’ve been here a month. My mind is nothing but a jumbled mess of broken Turkish and deteriorating English, recalled through a cloudy haze brought on by summer heat.

It was only today, though, that it really hit me that I am well and truly in Turkey, strolling through the Ulu Cami and feeling inexplicably insignificant against the majesty of its domes. It felt nice in the same way one feels nice after a good cry and a warm bath, almost as though you’re a different person by the end.


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merhabas and metro tickets


Crossing the Sea of Marmara from Istanbul to Bursa, 36 hours after having departed from Dulles. The smell emanating off of our collective group can only be described as “ripe.”

I am currently writing from a very comfortable couch in a quintessentially, Turkishly furnished living room, floor #2 (which is actually the third) of an apartment complex situated in the heart of Nilüfer, one of Bursa’s three main districts.  I have been here (in Bursa, not on this couch) for about all of one full day, and I have four main observations to make about Turkey at this point in my two-month visit:

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train rides, goodbyes, and virginia peanut brittle

It well and truly feels like summertime, now. There isn’t much of a spring in Virginia. Well, there isn’t much of any season in Virginia. Temperatures tend to bounce heedlessly from one extreme to the next, cycles of aggressive weather patterns plaguing the day-to-day. Take this past weekend, for example: a downpour of Biblical proportions, only for a few subsequent afternoons of dull humidity and light breezes. Thirteen years in this state have trained me to be prepared for uncertainty and carry a fresh change of clothes for 20 degree temperature changes on any given day.

What is certain, however, is the unmistakably bone-deep feel of lethargy and idleness that hangs like an overcast, as though each day stretches on for weeks at a time.


I myself have spent the past few weeks primarily in my car, driving from city to city with boxes of novels and cookbooks, transporting years’ worth of clothing and photo frames from the apartment to my parents’ house. Yesterday was my last day in the apartment, actually (read: I am officially a member of the dreaded recently-graduated-yet-indefinitely-unemployed pool of sad, sad 20-somethings), but memories of spending hot afternoons with Walt Whitman and nights wandering amidst a gloriously silent campus are fresh in my mind.

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