Learning to stand still
Living between two cities that are more than 1,500 miles apart is not quite as glamorous and fun as I often try to make it seem to people who don’t know me very well. Crossing between the two is kind of like jumping into moving water every time – there’s lots of splash and noise and driftwood, and if your timing was off there’s probably water up your nose, and you can’t see and you’re not sure which way is up. But by the time you kick back to the surface, breathless and giddy, or just plain knackered, the waters have closed and all evidence that you ever jumped has vanished.
I’ve been back in Istanbul for a little while now, and am savouring that feeling of things falling back into their proper places once again. You’d think I was used to the upheaval of changing country by now, given the amount of jumping I’ve been doing for the last few years, but my technique is still out of whack.
The last few months have seen more upheaval than usual, to be fair. This summer is going to be the first time I’ve stayed in one place for more than a month since Christmas. The good news for my mental health is that I’m going to be here until September at least. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have a proper chunk of time to just stand still, but I’m struggling to slow down enough to enjoy it.
Luckily, life moves at a different pace in Turkey. I hate overgeneralisations like this – of course this isn’t true for everyone, everywhere, all the time – but it certainly is for me. My life in Oxford is pretty frenetic, with long working hours, lots of friends to see, family to hang out with and projects to cram in. My housemates frequently mock me because I can’t sit still– if we’re watching TV together, I’ll be furiously multi-taking after about 7 minutes, even when we’re watching something as riveting as Here comes Honey Boo Boo.
Here, I get up later, sleep later and generally spend more time doing not very much at all. Maybe it’s the warmer weather? You simply can’t hurtle about here in the summer, it’d kill you. M is definitely a good influence on me too. He’s much more chilled out than I am, and while sometimes this frustrates me, we’re positive influences on each other.
Of course, part of the reason for this is that I’m still carving out my own life here in Istanbul. Simply put, one of the reasons I have more time on my hands is that I’ve got less other things to do here. But I also find myself more content to do nothing, which feels like a surprising luxury. Even as I start creating my own networks and doing my own thing more, I’m going to try really hard to make sure I’m spending more of my time just standing still.