“If there's one thing every city shares, it's constant change. Yet as change breeds novelty, novelty breeds seclusion. Do any of us belong—in our cities, our bodies, our minds? Or are we all just outsiders looking in? These are the stuff of private conversations—conversations with a loved one, with a friend, with the self.”

Istanbul, a land of chaos, a land of beauty.
Don't let the fresh laundry overhead mislead you: here lies violence and grime, sex and drugs and thirst. Tarlabaşı puts it on full display, the supreme blend of ghetto and grandeur. From within this maelstrom, a sprinkling of sugar paints the sky, the conflict between the spotless home and the guilt-ridden heart.

If there's one thing every city shares, it's constant change. Yet as change breeds novelty, novelty breeds seclusion. Do any of us belong—in our cities, our bodies, our minds? Or are we all just outsiders looking in? These are the stuff of private conversations—conversations with a loved one, with a friend, with the self.

Nearly everything in our lives came to us after birth. We made friends. We developed skills. We felt our way through the world. Gender, though, is the rare possession we're born with, the ingrained, the tried, the true. So when even our gender feels off—when we can't come to terms with this most fundamental piece of us—we become a table without legs, Romeo behind Juliet's balustrade. Our world will never be devoid of gender. But gender is what we make of it.

Istanbul is a city of chaos, and Tarlabaşı, its underbelly of harlotry and whoredom, puts the city's grittiness on full display.

Women in burqas pass women in thigh-highs without a second glance. They sacrifice their past for a slim shot at a future; they suppress fear and femininity, angst and anxiety, recourse and restraint. But with it all goes everything that is meaningful, belly laughter and sunny days and joie de vivre.

Yet Tarlabaşı, too, has evolved over its lifetime. Once a white-glove quarter for the city's posh and polished, entropy and negligence has stripped it of its luster. Bedlam, though, is not wholly unpleasant. Chaos is the mother of beauty. Beauty is the mother of us all.

The laundry overhead is the cherry on top, an innocent display of the guilt deep within. Do a fresh set of sheets indicate gaudiness or chastity, harmlessness or lust? Man or woman, every closet has skeletons.

The soul is the prime equalizer of humanity—each of us has just one, and we each choose how to employ it. The body, on the other hand, is its servant, the soul’s porter and concierge. The ailing body heals quickly; the ailing soul does not. Who is the greater sinner, then: she who sells her body for money, or she who sells her soul for it?

Here we are, living in a dream, an infinite muse, our sugar- coated darkness. Why do we work so hard just to be who we really are?