Friday, after a long week at my very conservative private school where the women are all covered up and praying in the teacher room, I stood on the bus on the way home and looked around. Even on the bus, so many women were hiding behind all of those layers and it just made me so sad to see. I could not help it as tears just continued to roll down my face as I silently asked, “Please, give me a sign as to what I am supposed to do.”
Then I went home, and when my flatmate arrived, she said that she needed to talk to me. What came out of her mouth will always shock me in a way that I cannot even begin to explain. Apparently, the neighbors had heard my struggle as I had kicked that guy out of the doorway on Wednesday night, and they had complained to her uncle. Therefore, they wanted me out in two days. Wow! How stunned I was to hear that not only was I being kicked out for the first time ever in my entire life, but I was being given a two day notice in a city that I did not know, where I did not speak the language. Even sicker was the fact that I was being kicked out because I had needed to yell at someone who was trying to push his way into our apartment building.
For a few hours, I sat there processing it all. First, I tried to look for another place to live. In fact, I even went to look at a room to rent that night. What was really weird was that these very sweet Turkish girls talked to me while I was waiting for the tram and wanted to help me to get to where I was going. Of course it was very kind of them. However, despite these kind, helpful girls, there were loads of creepy looking men out who far outnumbered those caring females. For the first time in my more than six months of traveling, I actually felt some fear and I did not like it one bit. I do not wish to live my life in fear, and I was beginning to realize that living in Istanbul meant living in fear.
After looking at the apartment, I headed back and thought some more about it all. Although I was still looking for apartments, I was getting more and more of a bad feeling about everything. I started to admit to myself that in the past few weeks, I had had many bad vibes about things, and had even had a few very creepy premonitions, including a dream where someone had told me, “Something REALLY bad is going to happen.”
When I really began to sort everything out in my head, what really scared me was the fact that despite the fact that the neighbors had heard me, not one person had even opened their door to help me or to see what was going on. This in and of itself was an extremely unsettling realization. The thing is, I always believe that if anything were to ever happen to me, that if I screamed loud enough or made a big enough scene, I would definitely be able to call enough attention that someone would help me. However, knowing that the neighbors had heard me and not cared to intervene made me feel extremely unsafe as I realized that no one would come to my aid if I needed it in such a situation.
So I messaged a few people whose advice I felt that I could trust and I explained the situation. Of course the responsible part of me thought I should stay and work out the rest of my teaching contract, even though after three weeks, they had still not had me sign it. On the other hand, everything in my being wanted to leave. Honestly, the energy in general in Istanbul was so low and depressing, the place just reeked of repression and sadness to me. I was starting to feel like I was crying everyday which told me that I knew that I really needed to get out of there, and the reasons to leave were just continuing to compound.