Spice Girls

When i was her age i was working full-time, while pursuing my graduate degree.  i was married, had a house in the suburbs, two small children, two dogs and a mini-van.  The concept of ‘free time’ was beyond my comprehension – let alone travel.  That there was a world beyond my schedule-driven existence barely registered.

She started taking Arabic while still in high school, on top of three years of Spanish.  As an undergraduate student, she was baptized as a citizen of earth during her Semester at Sea.  A solo trip to Morocco the following summer, and a semester studying in Beirut before graduation.

It was in January of 2011 that she decided to get her teaching certification, which she’d completed by the end of May.  She had accepted a job offer in Turkey and left the country two months later.  Knowing no one there, she was up and running in no time. A few bumps and glitches along the way, she navigated them all without much assistance from the parental units.

Studley’s daughter is cut from the same cloth.  Spent two years in a remote village in South Africa working for the Peace Corps, she’s now doing a graduate internship in Laos.  With just about a month notice, she loaded a backpack and left the country – not knowing the language, or what the summer would bring.

On the trip to Istanbul, we compared notes on having “Danger Monkeys” for daughters.

Studley:  Don’t you worry about her?

daisyfae:  Of course i worry!  There’s just nothing to do about it.  It’s her life.  One of the main reasons for this trip is to meet her friends, get a feel for what it’s like there… and get a feel for whether she’s really happy.

Studley:  I had to press my daughter to provide me with contact information for the organization she’s working for this summer!  Explained to her “Look, I’m no Liam Neeson!  I need to know where you’ll be!”

For the past two weeks, The Girl has been out front again – this time with Studley and i as her “Turkish Toddlers”. Translating menus, ordering food, teaching us basics in Turkish, haggling with vendors… and keeping us from getting hit by speeding taxis.

It was on one of our excursions that we needed to grab a taxi to get back within reasonable walking distance of the hotel.  Studley and i hopped in back, and The Girl rode shotgun.  She let the driver know where we were headed, and we pulled away from the curb.  They continued to converse in Turkish, but of course Studley and i were pretty clueless.  i realized something might be up when the driver half-heartedly whacked the meter and shrugged.

The Girl became more vocal, gesturing toward the meter.  She finally told us “We’re getting out!” as the driver pulled to the curb, still protesting.  She handed him a five Lire note then slammed the door in disgust.

The Girl:  Bastard was ripping us off!  He never turned on the meter.  I kept asking him how much it would cost to take us to the bridge, but he wouldn’t answer me directly.  He finally said “Thirty-five, forty lire…” which is BULLSHIT!  Should have cost us no more than ten!  God DAMN it, i hate it when they pull that shit.

She flagged down the next available taxi, and we continued on our way. i looked at Studley – “Do you see why i don’t really need to worry?”

Spice Girls

The timing of our visit in Istanbul worked out for us to meet up with a friend of hers, Jackie.  Having spent time teaching English in South America, she decided to take a job in Istanbul as a nanny for the summer, before returning to the U.S. to go back to school.  Another “Danger Monkey”…

The Girl and Jackie had only met briefly, but bonded instantly.  They are members of the same tribe.  Sharing stories, offering insights and advice to each other, they were fun to watch.

As they led us into the crowd at the Spice Market, it occurred to me that i want to be just like them when i grow up…

all growed up...

We sat at dinner one night, at a table filled with her friends.  Lively conversation, laughter and good food shared at a table by the sea.  In that moment i realized that it’s highly unlikely she will ever move back to the United States.

daisyfae:  You can’t live in the U.S. again, can you?

The Girl:  Doubtful…

i am proud of, and amazed by, my daughter. Here’s to all of the adventurous young women of the world!  Long may you run!

42 thoughts on “Spice Girls

  1. I can add very little, except, perhaps, that more young uns should be like these kids. I find I no longer speak the same language as many of my former “friends.”
    Long may they all run!

    • yep. finding mysellf in a similar situation… try to shed a little light when you can, but keep moving to avoid being ensnared by the narrowest of minds.

  2. How wonderful. And yes, I would like to be an ethical danger monkey when (if) I grow up too. You and Studley must be so proud and so happy for them. Which doesn’t discount the worry.

    • ultimately, i want both of my children to exist well long after i’m gone. the sooner they learn to live on their own? the more fun we can have together farting around!

  3. Sadly, when you and I were young, the most “Danger Monkey” women got was going into a non-traditional field. Your daughter takes after you. If I had knees and money, I’d be doing the “Danger Monkey” thing now. And maybe I do., I have no fear of being out and about in Belltown, a notorious “drug” neighborhood, at 3AM. We all court our own danger, I guess. I envy her (and you) the travel, though. I take after my grandmother, who had the wanderlust well into her eighties.

  4. Nice success story there.

    Down side of not coming back? Navigating FBAR, FATCA and all that other US tax and paranoia bullshit. She should look into getting another passport (and eventual relinquishment of US citizenship). Thousands are doing it every year….

    • She’s got some time to figure that out yet. But it’s up to her to decide… She still files with the IRS (thanks to my accountant who has a good bit of experience working financials for ex-pats).

  5. Sadly, when one chooses to expatriate themselves from the clinging embrace of Uncle Sam, the clock starts ticking because it won’t take long to learn that the bullshit Rob refers is making it hard to impossible to live outside the country as a US citizen.

    It’s probably not a big deal now because she is young and her finances are simple, but eventually, she will have savings, investments and a pension to build and her creepy old Uncle will require her to fill out long involved forms so he knows where, how much and how he can access it, should he chose to.

    It’s not unheard of for expats, who owe the homeland not a cent in taxes, to spend thousands of dollars and fill out reams worth of paper in tax filings every year. If the Girl is serious about living aboard, make sure she is aware of the financial ramifications (and the fact that the US doesn’t recognize dual citizenship – if she goes that route – and that if she has offspring, she is saddling them with this too.)

    Hate to be a killjoy, but if America doesn’t cut it anymore (and no reason why it should as there are better places in the world to live), she should have a plan for ditching her citizenship before she accumulates too much as well. The US exit tax can be steep and with the numbers of expatriating growing (there are US consulates that have waiting lists of a year-ish now), better to take care of this while you are young.

    • one of the things i admire most about this tribe? they have virtually no attachment to ‘stuff’. her room mate is moving to Hanoi in a couple of weeks. taking what fits in his backpack, and giving away all of the stuff he’s accumulated over the past two years – to friends, and to charity. when you’re young and single, without dependents, it’s a good gig.

      she’ll figure it out. she may get married. or not. she’ll have to work the traps on all that, and isn’t taking any of it lightly. she’s not in a hurry (and not particularly interested in breeding) if she doesn’t get married within a few years, she’ll likely come back for a short time, and bounce off somewhere else, go to grad school, or… who knows.

      i simply admire the willingness to work without a net

      • It’s all good as long as you know the possible pitfalls going in. Who would have thought that American citizenship would one day be an impediment?

        • she’s smart – and has learned that she needs to get good info. one of her fellow teachers at her first school told her she didn’t need to file with the IRS. that would have ended badly (and with a lot of expense).

        • I am appalled by the lack of essential info and misinformation that Americans toddle out into the big wide world with, and our fellow expats are sometimes the worst source of factual info.

          Oh, one more thing. If she is going to bop in and out of the US, remind her to use your address as her go-to residence and to not close any existing bank accounts in addition to setting up with an investment house. All the paranoid 9/11 banking rules makes it all but impossible for Americans to set up new accounts once they are well-established overseas. A lack of a permanent US address is the culprit. If your address is outside the country, no bank or investment firm will touch you. This is a problem b/c it’s going to become harder and harder to find banks in other countries who will deal with American citizens starting next year sometime when new rules start to kick in.

        • That’s the basic advice from my accountant, and what we’re doing. For my own retirement, i plan to keep the condo (paid in full) to allow for excursions – short or extended. Agree that getting the information is the responsibility of the individual and it’s worthwhile to have a reliable source.

  6. I wanna be like her when (if) I grow up too!
    Seriously, I admire her and wish I had done something like that when I was 25!
    Congrats for raising such a confident woman with an obvious zest and curiosity for the world in which we live!

    • it’s part of my retirement plans to boot around the world – but i’ll likely stay for months at a time, not years. the older i get, the more i seem to like my own bed, my quirky routine and familiar surroundings. i think that’s one of the key reasons to do this while you’re young – and relatively unjaded as well…

    • these are FABULOUS! my photos aren’t anywhere near that nice – but i’ll post them anyway (once i’m excavated from the trip, and return to work).

  7. I can see why you are so proud. My daughter is a bit like that but less able to cope alone, largely as her Mum continues frankly to do too much for her! 🙂

    Mine did talk about a “gap year” between school and university but she had no real plan and when pushed she hadn’t considered the funding of any trips beyond “a withdrawal from the bank of Dad”…

    • The gap year can be tough. One year of freedom makes going back to school a bit of a challenge. The Girl had some assistance from “The Bank of Dad” on her Semester at Sea venture, and a loan from “The Bank of Mom” to support the Morroccan road trip, but has figured out how to make ends meet on her own (for the most part) since then… The key is living in a place that is inexpensive! She couldn’t live with such a delightful quality of life in London, or Tokyo…

  8. How did you unleash that in her? What’s the recipe? I just yesterday I was sitting at the dinner table with the girls and thinking how sad I’ll be when this is all over and they’re gone. Hope I don’t get stupid when the time comes. Hope I can let them go their merry way.

    • When she was about 13, i had a one year assignment in DC. She (and little brother) came out to spend 6 weeks with me in the big city – and she loved it! Took to public transportation like a pro, and enjoyed all of the big city amenities. A couple years later, i dragged them to Germany to visit a cousin. The next year? England. We did spring break “adventure” trips domestically too – my strategy to avoid them EVER even asking (and subsequently being told “no”) to go to Florida for spring break was to take them to far more interesting places! San Fran, Arizona, etc… She always loved the travel…

      To some degree she was born with it — her brother had the same experiences, and has a different variety of wanderlust.

  9. Fuckin-A right woman, you raised a damn fine girl and as i was told by my old man and as the old man now who says to his young boyos, it’s your life to do what you want with it and you only get one so make it count and have a good time… i wish i would have heeded that advice…smirk.

    • been home for five days, and i keep hearing that refrain in my head “it’s her life”. been adding a little echo to it – “and i’m delighted to be part of it.” It’s not as though we’re not connected… it’s just that we don’t get to hang out together as often.

      not really sure i’d change my path if i had it to do over again. it led me here, and here is pretty god damned good…

  10. Congratulations to you for creating such a lovely person to experience this pretty awesome world. I LOVE that she even had the balls to take Arabic in high school, you opened the travel book early for her and her brother and she read it and kept reading it. Well done.
    I’ve known people that didn’t even take a domestic flight until they were in their 40’s, that to me is very sad.

      • not everyone has the opportunity to travel… or sometimes, not everyone believes they can do it. sometimes they get it in their heads that it’s impossible, too expensive, or they won’t know what to do… to me, it’s sadder when people want to go, but can’t get time off work, can’t afford to go, or have other obstacles…

        • Sometimes the obstacles are very real. If you are stuck out in the boondocks without a car, twenty miles might as well be the moon. I consider myself lucky to be able to cobble together rides on local buses from Olympia to the northern border. Amtrak is my best buddy now that The Boyo Is in a nursing home in Bellingham. I’ve been both places.

    • her father and i basically made the canvas, she is the paint! don’t think i got to fly until i was 23 – back then, NO ONE really flew anywhere. i know people who haven’t had the opportunity to travel – sometimes it’s because they can’t afford it, but sometimes because they have no interest. makes me sad, but to each his own i guess…

  11. Whatever it was you did, you did it right. And reading the thread about tax ramifications of being an expat was illuminating for me. Jim and I have toyed with the idea of moving overseas… not a lot of information about the bad parts of it taxwise. Interesting.

    • we didn’t realize how complicated it was until i started discussing it with my accountant. fortunately, she’s had a good bit of experience with ex-pat financials and was able to point us in a decent direction. but there isn’t a lot known about it, and the US is not doing anything to encourage people to leave.

      as for the spawn? interesting to me that given similar experiences, my kids went in different directions with it. The Boy has limited interest in foreign travel, but he can be dropped into any inner city environment, tough neighborhood, or out in the Ozarks, and still be able to work with a broad range of people… good skills to have.

  12. My spawn, all two of them are the 50’s category so the mystery of how they’ll turn is long since past. It amazes me they did. Now about the four grands……………………..

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