It was a melancholic warm Ankara night in the summer of 2010 when I left my childhood neighborhood Clifton. My family and I had left the American dream coming back to our home country Turkey; the land of the confused and the in-betweens, a bridge that burned with the chaos of diversity, the one and only place where we were supposed to belong. We had sold all our belongings in a garage sale, leaving nothing behind but the memory of us once being there. Walking through the airport’s gray walls, I was carrying a paradoxical excitement that was slowly revolving into a sadness. Having grown up in a foreign country and being named “The Turkish Girl” for years I was relieved to be finally going to a place where I was allowed to be myself and have a name of my own, yet even at the age of 11, the sweet pain of reminisce had started to haunt me. Considering the fact that I was just a kid, the peculiar feeling that had taken over me in that tantalizing airport was so unfamiliar. I felt as if I was listening to a song full of cheerful melodies and the most depressing lyrics. There was no reason to be gloomy, yet I could not quite manage to be happy either. I came to a sudden realization without really understanding what I realized and thought to myself, “There’s no turning back now.” The obscurity of things had become too overwhelming for an 11-year-old to handle.
Days past slowly, yet years seemed to pass with the speed of light. Every year came another bitter fact sucked into my consciousness. The thing called “life” which had seemed to me like a natural flow of a river in my peaceful years in that so-called foreign country, my very sweet innocent Clifton had turned into an artificial dam. Every moment that had passed meant I needed more and more energy to keep on living. Oh, how I missed the natural state of just being. I grew up feeling like an outsider in my own country. No matter what I did and how hard I tried, the feeling of estrangement would not let me go. The weird feeling that crept upon me turned into anger in my teenage years and so I blamed everyone: Society, the education system, authorities and so on…I dreamt about my utopic childhood neighborhood, fantasizing that one day I would be able to go back and live happily ever after. Be that as it may, my dreams got interrupted with the bubble of socio-economic reality. Every year it got harder to pay the bills in my country and by the time I was 18, it was impossible for me to even afford a plane ticket back to the good old days. Political conflict was not by my side either: visas, passports, and the sharp borders between lands were all in my way. The once so accepting airport I had stepped into when I was small was not so welcoming after all. My childhood neighborhood was literally impossible to reach to, it was just a fairytale once upon a time lived and the security controls were the reality that I had to pass through to get to it. I had started to make sense of the obscure feeling I once felt at that airport, it was the feeling of being trapped between the borders of your own consciousness. I was stuck between the innocent immaturity of a child and the cruel awareness of an adult.
I knew I could not find what I was looking for anywhere, yet there was no one to blame. I was carrying an airport in my heart from that very day, my soul had grown out to fill this strange feeling of belonging nowhere. To seek a specific location was just absurd, I had to accept that I did not belong anywhere but the borders I constantly walked on. I finally accepted what the airport was talking about. The high prices, acrid looks, gateways, and the never-ending luggage. Stuck in between, I had no choice but to accept.