I am from Izmir
Although I say I am from Izmir (Izmirliyim too much of a mouthful), the number of years I spent outside Izmir are actually more than the ones here. Still, I am from Izmir.
For example, Izmir means Kadifekale to me. My grandfather is one of the 390 martyrs who now lie in the Air Martyrs’ Memorial. His aircraft crashed over the Gulf of Izmir.
Izmir is, for example, Kemeraltı. It was a constant stop for our Izmir trips we had almost every 15 days in my primary school years when we lived not in Izmir but Söke. It is Uncle Behlül’s shoe store in Araphanı, where I would play with leather pieces. It is beautiful Eleni, whose huge photo remained hanging in Uncle Behlül’s house although they could reunite again. A situation resulting in his avoidance of marriage ever.
It is the doner (gyro) shop, the biggest reason why I wanted to come from Söke to İzmir. A place of which I have a faint picture now as having tables in the garden behind the Salepçioğlu Mosque…
And of course, it is BAL (Bornova Anadolu High School).
BAL is the reason why my Izmir-born mother from Asansör Street and a graduate of Girl’s High School, and my Izmir-born father from Karantina returned to the city after pursuing a civil servant job in Turkey for many years.
For example, it is Karşıyaka, the first place I lived in Izmir, and Güzelyalı, where we moved later on.
For example, it is Karentina coffee house. Karentina coffee house, where my late father would take me on some weekends saying he would teach me how to play billiards if I grew up a little more…
For example, Izmir is Kaf Sin Kaf, which is an indispensable spot if you live in Karşıyaka – despite my father, who played football at Göztepe in his early youth. It is the basketball games in Alsancak. It is the “first” championship…
And of course, it is Alsancak. It means the weekends of my early youth. It means the cinemas, cafes, beer houses. And means is Kordon.
It is an open-air cinema in Güzelyalı, where I would eat “çiğdem” (sunflower seeds) and watch a movie.
I am still from Izmir after all these years though nothing looks familiar whenever I come here. Do not drive me out of my “Asfalya” mind by saying you are no longer from Izmir…
by Cağlar Erözgen