Let’s go have a drink he said. But my stomach was upset and I was on time change and I didn’t care for a drink although this was Istanbul and the cafe was beautiful and oh, what the hell, a drink might calm my coming-from-nowhere anger that arose from every corner of every action that they, my parents, seemed to perform. A drink then.
Father let’s have a drink I said; and son what would you like—it’s your birthday! he responded; and I asked to have what anyone has on their birthday and so I had that, sipped it down. We ordered another.
And it was my birthday and so where would you like to go see today? they asked, and somewhere was the start of an answer; and of course the great, famous mosque was where we would go, so we finished our third drink and began to walk; it was a good city for walking.
I trampled the dead streets beneath my feet; this, my second time here in this spellbinding city, Istanbul. We were in Istanbul, and I had been here once before. But I suppose there’s nothing special about that, because Istanbul is so old and the concierge at our fancy hotel seemed like he’d seen me at least a thousand times over the three thousand years that this city had been headed toward being called Istanbul—seemed like he knew me and Istanbul better than I knew myself, because I myself was meant to enjoy my day of birth—was meant to get my maximal gain out of the whole damn thing. My parents had paid a lot of money for the airplane ticket, and this was their son, was their baby boy who was back from China, for now.
But I hadn’t been born on this day: I’d been born twenty-three years earlier, on a day that called itself today, and in that instant it seemed that this city—the place that had called itself Byzantium then Constantinople and now Istanbul—was waiting for me to arrive all along. So of course we would go to the mosque that was actually a museum because it was famous and it meant so much to so many it meant theworld was connected through a soul through god through channels of prayer and marble and taxis and expensive airplane tickets and cocktails.
We were drunk, wandering amidst the whirr of concrete and stone porticos, the kebab peddlers and ice cream stands, when suddenly that cathedral-turned-mosque-turned-museum came into view and look at the nuance in the marble she said; my mother was right and I hadn’t noticed it. But I didn’t care for the marble or the historical import it carried—probably it was the alcohol,the drug,the intoxicating liquid that had been promised by many to make me enjoy this day,my birthday. It was the day I was born on: two decades and two years plus one, now, ago.
Let’s go somewhere else I said, (did I say?) as the buzz began to fade we walked across the painted streets, smeared with the colors of old/new stone, mixed with the soft warm fleeting light of stale afternoons that inevitably ran away to some place where there were no mosques ; then we were on the sidewalk and the cars whipped around the corner moving fast look at the Bosporus somebody said; then we too were moving very fast and I could see beautiful women with dark eyes and even darker hair and soon everything was dark outside and it was time for a birthday dinner with wine, the shade of which white—hectic red—? didn’t matter because it was the feeling it gave you that mattered. But I couldn’t focus I was really drunk now I kept seeing her, that girl I loved here three years ago, and I was there then/now but I wanted to be there just now.
Let’s have a rest we said let’s get some sleep let’ s twenty three,twenty-two+1:
words,numbers you grew up so fast they said I’m not grown yet I
said; my mother began to cry on the table;
Let’s go somewhere else the world said let’s go back I wished I had said:
‘to three summers ago,’ ‘three suns or moons ago,’
‘just a measure of time
let’s go back ‘three measurements ago:’ ‘three lost loves ago;’ I wanted something to measure
a previous visit
the previous Istanbuls the previous me’s/I’s.
My birthday was
10 June, 2012