My dearest grandma, the shape of my heart. To this day, she continues to amaze me with her perseverance, big-hearted compassion, curiosity towards all that contain life, and never ending energy. She has been the back bone of the family through decades of storms. I owe it to her for who I am today...she taught me the art of storytelling, rebuilding life throughout my biggest struggles, preserving the old, and always embracing the new. My grandpa is the yin to her yang...they are quite opposite in many ways but complete each other beautifully. His presence always gives me a sense of comfort and safety. He is by far the funniest person you will ever meet. He was and still is the only man who to this day calls me his princess.
This is an ongoing project through which I will be documenting my grandparents' house (Sara & Refael Bensuseoglu) and their every day lives. Grandparents are a gift and they are one of my greatest treasures in life.
Home. What an intriguing word. For some, home is a place where you spend all the days of your lives while counting on many generations passed by and proudly can say you are one of the last standing and never moved away. I moved out of home - in my case city and country - when I was eighteen. I left a family, a broken heart, tons of friends, and a city full of living memories behind. Leaving your culture takes something away from you. It strips the very attachments you feel in everyday life as the familiar reflection you are used to seeing all your life starts to fade away when looking at the mirror. First you think you sound funny with the accent, you are somehow always left out by how things work, then you start to scrutinize everyone around you based on your cultural equilibrium: your so-called values, traditions, mindset and all the survival-kit experiences you have brought along from a perhaps less developed country. It takes you many years to realize that you don't have to be in a constant anxiety mode all the time over your safety, basic needs, and concerns about future. You somehow become more "civilized" by managing to distance yourself from the battlefield called "home" and rather try to focus on opportunities for personal growth and contentment. Your days start to look like a crossword puzzle to be solved everyday. You live with a sense of wonder and excitement as you are always presented with an overwhelmingly number of choices to make. Still you always tend to carry a very discomforting heart as to when you will be seeing your family next and ask yourself all types of "what if" questions...playing typical immigrant mind games.
Istanbul, my home is a city full of many faces, mixed identities, opposing beliefs, unifying humour and never-ending melancholy. It is like a bad romance or a love-hate relationship in which you constantly lose yourself while trying to stay as objective as you can to be able to see the bigger picture of the world. Istanbul is for lovers as much as Paris is. Istanbul is also for fanatics, extremists, political rebels, and revolutionaries. Istanbul, all in all, is a beautiful woman with at least 1,500 years of history, tradition, dialogue and dignity. If the walls of the city could talk it would describe life in three words: forgive, forget, and move on.
Sailing to Byzantium
W. B. Yeats, 1865 - 1939
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.
An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.
O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.
Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.