Z took my hand. We dipped into the side streets and away from the crowds. That morning we’d had an argument. A misunderstanding.
Sometimes traveling is more of a journey into my own unknown places than it is into the world; a visit through the structures that stand, old and unused, beautiful or crumbling, in my mind.
A car honked. Z looked up. “We cross here.”
I didn’t argue. I felt cold. I wanted to stop and sit and drink tea with cubes of sugar. I did not want to tour, but to live.
I once asked Z where home was.
“Seattle,” he said, “And where you are.”
But when I am in a place, I feel that I could stay. Like I almost live there. He is the immigrant, but he knows where home is. He didn’t have to think a second.
Z ordered us each a short strong cup of coffee. The waiter opened a wooden desk drawer. It was full of cubes of sugar. He placed one each on the saucers next to our little cups.
When I finished Z took my cup and turned it upside down. “Now we read your fortune.”
The tip of my nose was cold. Coffee seeped out from the rim of the cup.
Z removed it and peered in. The grounds spread over the saucer. “Humm,” Z shrugged. The corners of his eyes crinkled. “Your future looks muddy. How about lunch?”
We walked hand in hand along rows of antique shops, peering in like strangers. In the window of one I saw a row of tiny cameos, no bigger than my pinky nail.
I did not want to see any more monuments. “We could look for Turkish Delight,” Z said. “It is supposed to be the best in the city. Maybe the world.”
We crossed the bridge again and ducked into the streets behind it. The shops were narrow and slouching, like they had had a long day, and were tired.
I looked up. “The book says it is here. Just around the corner.”
A spot of Technicolor in a black and white film. Pastels and sugar and spun candy. Rose, hazelnut, pistachio, orange. The soft little cubes piled into a small mountain and then into my bag. The bell rang and another couple came in. The bell rang, and Z and I went out.
We crossed the bridge. Constantinople, the Ottoman Empire, arguments. They all come and go. My teeth ached from the sugar.
I tapped Z on the arm. “Look at the fishermen. They are still fishing.”
He kissed my forehead. “Shall we go home?” The trace of his lips felt cool in the evening air.
To the hotel, to the States, to Seattle to each other?
“Not yet.” I opened the guide book. “I want to try the lahmacun. It is supposed to be the Turkish answer to pizza…”