I stood there taking in a deep breath of the sticky air as I watched the yellow cab leave without me. Moisture filled my eyes as I let the air escape my lungs and with it, a small hiccup of despair. A brick of frustration formed in the pit of my stomach spreading like a wave over my entire body. Hopelessly, I watched the yellow cars piled with people pass me by. I was like a squeezed balloon whose had enough and I just stood there empty. I took a deep breath choking back tears and for the first time in my life, I did not want to move.

Why couldn’t he take me here? Fuckin’ driver!

My eyebrows scrunched in distress as I looked at the crinkly paper in my hand.

Bozkurt Cd 302
Feriköy Mh., Şişli, Turkey

I looked around letting the swarms of people pass me by again.

I am exhausted from asking for help to be only met with “No English”. Tired of walking up to cabs and hearing “No”. And just when I thought somebody was going to help me, they left.

I took a deep breath to calm my anxiety. The smell of cigarettes and body odor filled my nose as people moved in a hundred directions. Car horns blared across the city playing at an aggravated pace. The streets began overflowing with cars and people spilling onto walkways. By the location of the sun, it was time for people to go home and rest from another day of work.

And I just stood there in the middle of an uneven sidewalk, forming my own little island with my small rolling blue luggage and red duffle bag. I looked down at my sweaty hands irritated from gripping the handle of my heavy luggage too long. My damped clothes glued on to me like unwanted glitter. The weight of my jacket began to constrict me under the merciless sun. I wanted to escape from my clothes as I often feel the urge to after coming home from school. Rip the day piece by piece. I lifted my head towards the sky thinking someone is up there amused.

Are you kidding me? Exiting the trolley platform earlier, I felt the fabric barrier of my pants opening and exposing my skin to the outside world. My eyes widened as I backed myself into a wall struggling to stretch my jacket down as far as it could while holding my luggage. I quickly examined the slit and breathed a sigh of relief to realize my jacket covered what was necessary. I pulled my zipper tightly up and walked to find someone to help me.

Just my luck. I took another deep breath of the dry air, stretching my jacket down assuring myself once again it was covering the slit. The descending sun continued to melt me into the concrete, boiling my desperation of being lost, unable to find help and incapable of taking off my jacket. Tears of defeat streamed down my muggy face and with them my sense of clarity. In this moment I thought about a story my Study Abroad Advisor told the departing students at orientation.

The story was about a girl who was really excited to study abroad in Italy for the semester. She spent her whole summer preparing for this trip and talked about it to everyone that she was going to Italy. However, a week into her study abroad semester she ended up going back home because she couldn’t adjust to the culture and lifestyle. It was way different than she expected and became homesick.

“Dumb girl” I sneeringly thought and mentally registered her as “those people” who give up so easily. “Those people” who cry after one lap, who whine all the time during a game of scrimmage, and the ones that emotionally breakdown on national television. This is where I placed this unknown face.

As I stood on the sidewalk recalling this story, I pondered on who really is the “dumb girl”. The girl who lasted a week in a foreign country or the girl who is crying on the sidewalk after four hours in a foreign country? I gave this unknown face too little credit too soon.

I wiped away my tears and inhaled a whiny, but a determined breath of air. I grabbed my luggage and immediately felt the pain on my hands and an ache in my arms. Once again I dragged my belongings through the broken streets of Istanbul and this time I needed to find this address before the sun set.

I made my way to a bus stop where I once again looked around through the chaos trying to find someone who can help me. I began asking people for help, but soon, asking one person for help turned into asking six people, then seven, then nine and I began to get discouraged again.

I stood out of breath, and in complete disbelief. Why doesn’t anybody help me? I felt water forming at the rims of eyes, getting ready to spill. In this moment, a round man arrived at the bus stop.

Keep trying. I reluctantly approached him and showed him the paper. I began to explain in a broken voice that I could not find this place and I needed help.

As I was finishing my story, I saw from the look on his face I knew he could not understand what I was saying. I felt a ball of dry air rise up my windpipe anticipating him waving me off and walking away at any moment. What am I going to do?

He looked up from the paper towards me and stood there like a statue for what seemed like forever. He suddenly took the paper from my hand and with hand gestures told me to follow him.

He whizzed through the crowds of people never looking back towards me. I felt a sense of hope and despair as I held onto my luggage tightly trying to keep up with him. At one point, I thought to myself am I supposed to be following him? I really don’t know what I was thinking following a complete stranger in a foreign country and I don’t know what made me trust him, but I knew if I lost him I don’t know who else will help me.

We arrived at a bus crammed with people. The round man gestured for me to wait, turned around and began talking to the bus driver. The perspiring bus driver seemed obviously annoyed, but after some discussion back and forth he seemed to give in or agree with the round man and signaled for me to get on. The round man in haste picked up my roller, placed it on the bus, and directed me to hop on next. As I settled onto the bus I looked back at the round man and said thank you as the bus began to depart. The ball of dry air rose up my throat and water streamed down my sticky cheeks.

I stood at the front of the jammed bus looking back at the round man and having no idea what his name was. Even though I still had no idea where I was going, where the bus driver was taking me, or where I needed to go, I was happy. Looking out through the large window of the bus over-towering the yellow cars and crowds of people on the sidewalk, I was happy to be moving again.


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