“Describe your ideal apartment,” Jeremy said one night last week. I was typing on my computer, awash in the sickly yellow glow of our current apartment’s halogen lights, sitting a few feet away from where paint from the ceiling flaked down in consistent mini storms, like dandruff on a businessman’s shoulder- our own life size snow globe.
For the last few weeks, our frustrations with our apartment had come to a peak and we’d been starting to take the idea of moving out a little more seriously with the same mixture of desperation and hope that the turtles in my school’s office have when they claw at the sides of their tank. I looked around, feeling irritated, thinking that anything would be a step up.
“Well… natural light,” I started, thinking of the constant cavernous darkness in our place, equally dark at 1pm as 1am, making it necessary to constantly have the lights on.
“More room,” I added, “And, if we’re really talking about my ideal, it would be nice to have a balcony…. and an exposed brick wall…” Jeremy raised an eyebrow at how specific that detail was. “Well, you asked for my ideal,” I said, knowing that I would simply be satisfied with just natural light.
For the whole length of time that we have been in our apartment here in Istanbul, it has been plagued with problems that continue to get worse. It was time to make a move. On a whim one day last week, I started searching craigslist.com Turkey and sent out a platoon of emails to any apartments that were furnished, were close to the city center, and within our dual housing stipend budget.
We made an appointment to see one apartment on Friday near Taksim. Waiting on Istiklal for the man from the agency to show up, I was filled with the excitement and possibility of the new. When he finally came, we walked a few minutes to a neighborhood called Kasımpaşa, near the British Consulate. Some friends of ours live in the same area and I recognized the streets from having visited them. The outside wasn’t as manicured as our current little island on a hill (in fact the streets were a little dirty), but there were tons of little markets, vines creating a canopy between buildings, and people out and about. We walked up the spiral stairs to the second floor and came nose to nose with the kids next door- a boy and his older sister. They were very amused at our being there and our apparent strangeness. They stood and grinned wide grins and came in close. If there had been a pane of glass between us, they would have definitely scrunched the tips of their noses and fogged up the glass, trying to get a closer look. There we were- foreign oddballs. We exchanged a few Turkish words with them, while the agent fumbled around for the keys and they scurried downstairs.
He opened the door and let us through and down at the end of the entrance hallway, there it was: an exposed brick wall! My heart did a little jig, but I kept a poker face. I walked further into the apartment and felt a little lighter, seeing its many windows and knowing that since it was on the second floor, this meant we would be getting natural light. I looked left, where the living room opened up to a small room, which opened up to a small balcony! Although I was trying not to get ahead of myself, I could already picture having Sunday morning coffee, cradled by the plants we would put there.
It only got better. There were 3 rooms total, aside from the living room and kitchen, which meant that we could have guests stay with us in the future. One room could also be a studio/office space. I imagined putting in a little workbench for jewelry and also possibly having room to paint. How wonderful to have all this space!
I kept on trying to catch Jeremy’s eye to communicate just how awesome I thought the place was. I did by making freakish googly eyes at him. I think he got the message… and anyways, he was feeling the same. The apartment was still being remodeled and they told us that it would be ready in a week. Jeremy talked to the landlord on the phone, who even said we could get our pick of furniture within a budget.
Today we put down a small deposit on the place and decided to take the leap. We haven’t received word about getting my housing budget, but I’m confident that it will come together. In the meantime, having an exit strategy makes the paint flakes and the mold in our current place a little more tolerable.