Throughout the eighteen days I’ve been in Izmir, I felt much like this fig:
Stuck between the seasons. Debatable. The last one hanging. Awaiting things around me to come to fruit-ion.
As a believer in the initial feeling, in love at first sight, in premonitions and fate, my lack of initial emotions towards Izmir had left me feeling platonic, plain, and frankly, bored.
Much like this fig, I arrived to this city ripe and ready to be picked; I was fixated on the idea that, like Istanbul, Izmir would harness my heart and the harvest would be plentiful. Turkey was, afterall, my first love, so I expected the same chemistry and fireworks and affection that had been both instantaneous and hard won four years before.
But at first glance, Izmir didn’t make my heart beat. Instead, she was like an early morning stroll that strengthens your pulse and steadies your breath, rather than taking it away. Lovely and innocent. Easy to approach.
Easy to approach. Light.
Somewhere within her lightness – the breathtaking sunrises on the Aegean Sea, the glow of the sun on tanned skin and bare shoulders, and the permeating aromas of freshly caught fish and citrus trees – my senses began opening up to Turkey’s most liberal city. And she, in turn, has begun opening up to me.
Yesterday we had a conversation in a pomegranate grove and she told me about the fifteen days leading up to the harvest.
Then she held my hand through a mountainside village …
And together we sauntered past olive trees, grape vines, sheep farms, and bee hives.
And after an hour-and-a-half, our eyes finally fell onto this spectacular view of the Balcova Mountains.
As the seasons begin to change and summer offers us her last batch of figs, I’m reminded to meet fall with no expectations; to find excitement in the stark differences and comfort in the subtle similarities that remind me why Turkey was, and always will be, my first love.
Sure, Izmir doesn’t strut like Istanbul, but she strolls softly in a way, that on day nineteen, seduces and intrigues me more than ever.