Graham’s doing his traveling like I did mine last year and only brought one pair of jeans with him. Every couple of months when they’ve become too filthy you break down and wash them. But they’re fine otherwise. When they get too smelly, you just go to a smoky pub and they will smell like the pub for a while, until you sweat in them for a bit, then you wear them when it’s rainy… there are all sorts of ways to keep your jeans going between washes. I went my whole time in Georgia and never washed my jeans. They develop their own story, their own identity this way. Their own personality, if you will. Or I’m just weird and lazy and don’t like washing my jeans. That’s fine.
Graham’s gone a bit simpler than I did last fall. I had brought two pairs of jeans in case of an emergency and I needed to wear something else. He only has the one pair of jeans, and three changes of clothes. He had a layover in Minneapolis on his way out of the country, and a friend from our bicycling days picked him up and had breakfast with him. He asked Graham where his luggage was. Had he left it at the airport? No, Graham responded, I have it. Where? Oh, my backpack. What? Aren’t you bringing anything with you? Yes, I have three changes of clothes. Man, that’s so awesome…
Graham sprung a leak in his jeans back in Oregon. He climbed a fence and tore a hole in them, so he had to have them repaired. Every once in a while they’d get really muddy and he’d have to wash them. But for the most part, they were holding out strong. He’d recently washed them in the middle of September. It was nearing time for another wash, though. They were getting bad. Maybe after our time in Bursa we’d have a solemn ceremony and wash our jeans together. I’d only washed my jeans once, back in July. It was probably time to wash them again.
After our time in Bursa, we took a bus to Iznik/Nicaea and spent the night there. Iznik is quite a nice little town. It sits on a lovely little lake where we skipped stones as the sun set.
After our dinner of Kofte we wandered back to our little hostel. As Graham pulled his jeans off, though, disaster struck: the ass of his jeans blew out! It wasn’t just a minor little tear, either, it was a nice gaping hole. An area that had been under high stress, Graham said. Considering the state his jeans were in, it probably wouldn’t do much good to repair them, as they’d probably suffer another blowout shortly. To not do anything wasn’t a very good option either, as the hole was in such a situation that it would grow bigger by the day. Besides, it was cold and he’d feel a draft.
The next day we decided we’d have to find a replacement pair of ripoff Levi’s for him. We wandered around the old city walls of Iznik, munching some burek, on the hunt for a trouser shop. The November air was quite crisp, and all of the Iznik homes had their wood burning stoves going, so the air was thick with smoke. It was one of those lovely fall days when it’s just cold enough to put on a jacket, hoodie and stocking cap. I remarked to Graham that it was one of those perfect days that we see too few of in the fall. He agreed, and said that fall is the most melancholy season. I hadn’t thought of it like that, but I agree. Though the weather is perfect, but the chill in the air serves as a constant reminder that these days won’t last. The weather is very nice, but we only appreciate it knowing full well that winter is on its way.
We eventually came across a trouser shop and stopped in. Graham went into the changing room and I dug through the jeans. Find me a 32, these 30s are too snug! Well if you hadn’t eaten so much in Italy, you wouldn’t have your big Italian belly and wouldn’t be in this fix! Do they have other colors in this model? I handed Graham different pairs. We eventually found some to his liking. I asked the shop girl how much they cost. Otuz beş. Otuz beş, that’s 85 lira! That’s like 50 some dollars! ҫok pahali, I said, very expensive, and we wandered out of the shop. We talked of how odd it is that the ripoff Levi’s are more expensive than real Levi’s in the US. I was thinking to myself, wondering about otuz. Wait, otuz is 90, not 80! They’re even more expensive! But then I thought again. Wait, otuz is thirty. So they’re 35 lira, not 85. I guess I’m not doing so well with my Turkish lessons yet. We went back to the shop and told the girl we’d take them. She jabbered on about something in Turkish that I didn’t understand, so I just resorted to saying tamam, tamam. Ok, ok.
We wandered around the town for a bit, and found the Yenişehir gate, and Graham wandered up and hid in the brush and rocks and changed his jeans.
We walked down the hill and back to the bus station, on our way back to Istanbul. Graham found a trash can on the way and discarded his old jeans. Can’t go around having sentimental attachments to a pair of trousers, he tells me. Plus he’s been schooled from a young age about what happens when you start busting holes in your clothes and patching them. His favorite book as a child was Ingram’s Red Shirt, in which Ingram tears a hole in his shirt and patches it. But then he has to patch up the cloth that he used to make the patch, and then patch up another thing, and so on, until he has to use his red shirt to make another patch. Should have just discarded it to begin with.
He isn’t satisfied with his new pair of trousers. They have no personality yet, I tell him. Just give them a while, get ’em good and worn in, maybe they’ll grow on him. Just think, you’ll be the only guy wherever you settle yourself next who bought a pair of knockoff Levi’s in a small shop in Iznik, Turkey, and changed into them on the top a 1,500 year old city wall, whilst thinking about the first and seventh ecumenical councils of the church!