Drifting as a Migrant Woman
by Göze Saner
In October 2010, I started drifting every Sunday morning. I would cycle to some part of town, park my bike and start wandering. Not allowed to consult maps, I would simply follow each whim. Turning this way and that, I would get completely lost until some inner clock would say it’s time to get back home and I would somehow retrieve my bicycle and return…home? The drifting was a response to not feeling at home where I lived; deep inside I hoped I would get so lost that eventually I would find a home in the anonymous streets of London.
These drifts and the gifts London gave me in the form of thoughts, senses, images, and stories became part of a solo performance ev∙de∙yol∙da / at∙home∙on∙the∙road. In October 2011, I sublet my room in the shared house in Stoke Newington and I left London with only the performance in my suitcase. I visited people and places where I had felt at home before: Istanbul, Athens, and Holstebro, where I ended up performing the solo for a group of Kurdish migrant women. We connected so deeply through the piece that I realized my experience was not mine alone, that there were other migrant women who were also trying to make some strange town their home. Would it help them to drift, to get lost in their cities, like I did? This is how Göçmen Adımlar / Migrant Steps was born, and this is the story of how I found a home drifting together with other migrant women every Sunday morning.
So I wanted to use this space to share some of the images and thoughts that came to me and other participants through the drifts which later became part of the performances, so that the reader can weave their own path through fragments of our journeys.
You know what I noticed today? It’s like buildings also breathe. They have their own windpipes. (Notebook 1, A, 13 October 2013, Liverpool Street)
Those tall skyscrapers, when the clouds pass behind them, look like they are swaying gently. (In conversation, G, 27 October 2013, The City walk)
I liken myself to those buildings. I am stuck somewhere, my body has turned to stone. I cannot move. Whenever I try, I hear tremors, crackles, all sorts of strange sounds. (Notebook 1, P, 8 December 2013, Finsbury Park)
I am sitting on a bench. There are trees around. It’s windy, a strong wind. I watch the wind shake the branches of the trees. To my left, there is a road, people passing by, cars, buses. To my right, it is closed, I cannot see. When I feel ready, I will stand up and go. When I feel ready… (Notebook 2, E, 27 October 2013, The City walk)
Not knowing where I am. Stopping, looking. If there’s no place I want to go, nowhere I’m looking for, where I am doesn’t matter. Or in better words, it’s good wherever I am. “Absolute position contentment” as opposed to “Relative distance happiness”. I am sitting on a sunny bench on the corner of Leman Street and Alie Street. (Driftbook, Göze, 24 October 2010, The Tower Hill walk)
On a cold Sunday morning, like every Sunday morning, I am walking on this road—you may have heard of it: Brick Lane. As I pass through the crowded marketplace I notice a note on the ground. Curious, I pick it up and read it. Short and to the point: ‘Come behind the wall facing the train station by the passage next to Brick Lane Teapot Cafe. If you can’t see me, call me at this phone number at 3.’ At first I didn’t care so much but when I saw the date I realised it is today. 21 November 2013. I’m so close to the address. Shall I go? What should I do? I am scared. Should I go with my friends, or should I find a way of getting rid of them and go myself? An unbelievable excitement inside. And fear. But I can’t help but face up to it. Here I am, right there, I am waiting at that very spot. (Notebook 5, P, 24 November 2013, Bethnal Green walk)
You always aim somewhere, there is no absolutely aimless wandering. But then, you change your mind, or something else is as likely to draw your attention as where you were headed in the first place. (Driftbook, Göze, 28 November 2010, Stamford Hill Walk)
Surrendering the right to know where you’re going, the right to decide. Walking around Berdsmond Road, which turns out to be a dead end, I realise: This is a drug. I get a kick out of getting lost, the moment I know where I am, kind of, I want to turn, to tangle my route more and more, for the thrill of it all, of getting lost, and more lost and even more lost and more and more and more lost! (continued below)
I’m sitting at Millfields Park. There’s always a peak or a turning point. From going to coming, from away to back, though they do permeate each other, from lost to found. (Driftbook, Göze, 17 July 2011, Going II: In Circles)