Maybe it's the weather. The weather these days is disconcerting. It's not just the unseasonable warmth. It's this weird feeling in the air. A pressure, a moisture, a dark heat like you're in the eye of the hurricane and something is about to break wide open.
The Earthquake came up on Facebook the other day, and my dad commented with something like, "The earthquake for us is kind of like crib death when you were a baby."
I wasn't here for the 1999 earthquake. I visited Turkey for the first time a year after, when people still teared up just thinking about it and their words choked in their throats. They talked about people who had been trapped and made it, and people who hadn't made it. They talked about the smell of corpses that lingered for weeks and shivering in their cars and waiting waiting waiting for news. I was staying on the side of the Marmara near the epicenter, and it was still a rubbled mess, almost impossible to tell what was being built and what had been knocked down. The buildings that were standing reminded me of teeth, a few in a row there like nothing had happened and then a gap where one was missing.
The thing about the Earthquake is that you don't talk about it, not much anyway. It's a back-of-the-mind terror that's always there, but one that will make you crazy if you keep worrying about it. You tell yourself that worrying about the Earthquake all the time is like worrying about getting hit by a bus or getting cancer. It's something that can happen to you at any second and there's fuck all you can do about it.
When I first came here, I like everyone else, practiced a modicum of earthquake safety. Since I lived in a basement flat, I figured getting trapped without water was the only thing I had any control over, so I kept a few large bottles filled with water and a teaspoon of bleach that I refilled regularly. I knew where my passport was. I had a few candles.
"In Istanbul, where I live, politicians are in a race against time, and time is winning by about three years. The vast city is as vulnerable to earthquakes as Los Angeles, but not as prepared. Istanbul is very close to the North Anatolian Fault, which runs beneath the Marmara Sea, and whose most significant break is said to occur every 500 years. The last time the fault broke, the city was ruined. Landmarks collapsed; thousands died; and the city walls, famous for halting invasions, were useless against floodwaters. That quake, nicknamed "the Little Apocalypse," hit in 1509, 503 years ago."
|Thanks a fucking lot, Ağaoğlu.|
Unofficially, there are close to 20 million people in Istanbul. When the Earthquake comes, it's not inconceivable that the final death toll will be in the millions. Three million? Five? Seven? What's that going to feel like?
|I don't even have the right outfit.|
That night as I was dozing off, I thought about what I would do if the Earthquake happened right then. The water bottle was almost empty, I had 20 lira in my wallet and LE was across town at his grandparents'.
I am just one of millions of people barely keeping on top of life, forgetting to go to the bank and unable to find a convenient time to wait for the water guy.
A friend of mine once met a Japanese earthquake expert who came to tour Istanbul and evaluate the situation here. The expert's advice? "Buy lime, and lots of it."
When you look across the hundreds of thousands of rooftops and windows in Istanbul and think about each life that's happening inside all those houses, each bit of drama, sickness, joy, TV-watching, angst, sneaking a wank, boiling rice, brushing hair, ennui, arguments, looking for a pen, waiting for phone calls and on and on and on and on...
It makes me feel like pitching my tent in nihilism country or clinging desperately to every little piece of it. I can't tell which one.
So with that, give me something to look forward to and say something nice about my blog here at Expat Blogs because apparently they're keeping track.