Izmir has been described as a blue city. I can assure you that it is not—an aerial view picks out infinite fields of yellow, the haphazardly strewn skirts of tight-packed Alsancak and her sisters.
The white reflective roofs of greenhouses wink up at me as I look out the window of a Turkish Airlines plane. I smile down at them in greeting. Young olive trees stand in tidy rows like fresh recruits on their first day of military service while the veterans crowd together in conversation.
Identical houses line twisted subdivision roads, freshly painted and not yet ravaged by desert heat and bad plumbing. Avenues and cul-de-sacs give way to a motorway crammed with shoals of tiny cars, and although sound cannot filter through kilometers of air and clouds the persistent whine of car horns is fresh in my mind, teamed with cries of “Eşek! You ass!” when another commuter is cut off.
A brief intermission spins me through brown mountains covered with dark lime wool before we nosedive, the end in sight. I don’t remember the grass next to the runway ever being green; it’s perpetually suntanned to a dull gold, even when winter yields a brief blanket of snow.
I step onto my home turf, ground sacred to me and 70 million other people. Warmth settles on me like a security blanket. I hug it closer. It’s good to be home.