Earlier this week Lindsay and I met up with a friend who is leaving on a yearlong trip today. She’d followed along as we trotted from place to place on our inaugural Where Is Your Toothbrush? World Tour and now wanted recommendations about places and traveling in general. As in all similar conversations, especially with fellow Portland-based travelers, the phrase “a year ago today” and its variations came up numerous times.
There’s something neat and orderly about one year. It was easier to wrap my mind around and talk about traveling for one year than 13 months, which is what I ended up doing after I traveled solo to Havana. “A year ago today” has so much more power than “this time 18 months ago” or “two years ago today” will have. Not to mention, the memories are fresher, more vivid.
One year ago today we were saying goodbye to Istanbul, a city we initially hated and then gave a second chance, found an alternate story for, and ended up loving. As I conjure Istanbul in my mind’s eye, I see it awash in the soft-hued, diffuse light reflecting off the waters of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus Strait and the deep-red çay (Turkish tea) served in thin tulip-shaped glasses. I can smell the köfte (minced lamb meatballs) grilling at hole-in-the wall shops around Beyoglu, the balik ekmek (grilled fish sandwiches) served off boats near the Galata Bridge with the mackerels still sizzling, the smoke from wood stoves Istanbulites use to heat their apartments suffusing the chilly days. I can hear the myriad noises of the Istanbul soundscape, the ezan calls to prayer, the street vendors shouting, the cars and giant cargo ships honking… It goes on like this until I collect myself and return to the here and now.
As much as I try to remain present in the now, almost every day I think of where we were one year ago. I relive the trip in my memory. The intensity of the recollections will diminish, I know, but I also know they will never fade away completely. They are the one possession I will never relinquish. And, as nostalgic as I wax, new memories are already coming to life.
And so, I wish Victoria and everyone else leaving today, or soon, to travel long term, bon voyage and veľa šťastia.