A Love Letter to America
I just wanted to say I love you.
There are three places I love most in this world. One is my home, England. The second is the home of my parents, Cyprus. I have worked there, fallen in love there, and have loved ones buried there... it holds a special place in my heart.
The third is the city of Istanbul. How I wish I could pluck it out from the politics of the country it's in, and place it somewhere on its own. Owned by everyone, or no one, because really that city owns you. I fell in love with it the moment I stepped foot on its soil.
How I wish it were a place where the colours of the Armenian, Greek and Jewish quarters could shine vibrant once more, where we can sit around a table by the Bosphorus, buoyed by our monastery wines and raki distilled from the vines, singing from the same song sheet in our different tongues on through to sunrise ...
And behind all these three places has been my love for you, America.
How could I not love you? You are part of my childhood. Seasame Street, Looney Tunes and so many more friends that brought me joy on a Saturday morning. I wallpapered my bedroom wall with Superman flying to save his girl. You gave me all that. You gave me heroes to believe in.
When I am asked why I haven't visited you yet, I say it's because I don't need to. I waited a long time before I visited Istanbul, because I knew I would fall in love with it the minute I laid eyes on it. I know the same will be true of you.
You are what I always wish Istanbul could be, all colours vibrant on a standard flying free. That is what I always thought you were, and what I loved about you the most when I was young.
For the America I love is separate from its politics, from its red states or blue states; America is not the sum of the mistakes of its past. It's not the massacres of its indigenous populations, or its slave trade, or its foreign policies that have so helped to harm the world.
I wish I could pluck out from that tarnished setting the diamond which is the America I love, and place it somewhere else - owned by no one, and everyone. Because that is what I thought America was, before it narrowed its borders. I thought being a citizen of America was more than being a citizen of a country; America was a ticket to a world, of an idea that people were born free to pursue their own happiness.
But I love you despite your mistakes America, because you listen. For all your mistakes, you are always willing to listen. You back it up with the courage to own up to your mistakes. You keep an open heart and mind, which can be won over by the right words. A willing listener always loves words. I love you for your love of words.
When someone is a lover of words I am always hopeful. You are hope, America. You give hope. The hope that amongst you all, one of you will listen, and start the change. That is why I love you the most now, I guess.
You are change, you always have been. A billion different ideas all talking together until the best one gets through ... and then gets replaced with the next, best idea to come along.
I just want you to know how much I believe in that, and how much I believe in you.
Yes, I can be your harshest critic, but that's because I'm a best friend who tells it like it is. You can trust me to always tell it like it is. All I ask is the same from you.
And though I would not kill for you, I would lay down my life for you. I would stand shoulder to shoulder with you. If I could go back to one of your darkest days and stop the events of 9/11, I would do so in a heartbeat. To save those innocent people, but to save my own heartbreak, too.
Because even though I have never stepped foot on your soil, you need to know that I have grown with you, loved with you, and buried your loved ones with you.
I wrote this letter to you today, because I wanted you to know that when you hurt, I hurt, too.
Tell Big Bird I said hi, will you?