I find myself a seat in the corner of a coffee shop; brown table, wood everywhere, the aroma of coffee and caramel filling the air. I place my book on the table or on my lap—either way my neck bends so low it aches after a few pages—and I lose myself in a different world, touching the pages as though caressing a lover. Recently I’ve been double-pretending; the first setting is that of the novel I’m reading, and the second is İstanbul. Wherever my body happens to be, my soul is nowhere but in İstanbul, all day and all night. This she-city; my loyal friend and my enchanting lover, my mind’s remedy and my heart’s home. I am under Her sky, my skin absorbing the life radiating from Her sun, my consciousness expanding in Her language, my feelings expressing themselves in Her tongue. İstanbul is the lover I never got to meet in the body of a human; She’s the beloved to whom all my love poems are about. İstanbul is both a manifestation of my soul and a being all on Her own. I don’t know where I end and She begins. I have never loved as fervently and wholeheartedly as I have fallen for Her. It is the waters that soften Her edges that are the blood that swirls in my body. It is the echoes of Her past with all its tragedies and triumphs that engulf me and make me believe that life is worth living, no matter how long it takes for it to feel like so. It is Her complexity, Her fascinating identity, Her secrets and hopes and memories that have slipped into a haze of amnesia that I most relate to… It is the voices of the souls that have taken Her as their home, both as a blessing and a curse, that fill my mind as I pretend that the corner I’m sitting in is on Her land, by one of Her flowing waters or in one of Her cafés. This is what keeps me thriving as I count the days to have Her air be the oxygen that kisses my lungs; to have the chirping of Her birds be the pleasant sound I wake up to in the morning and the flirtatious song of Her shores and rains that I go to sleep to at night.