Seven years ago, The Boy and i hopped a plane for Istanbul to spend Christmas with The Girl. She’d accepted a job in Izmir the previous summer, and at the age of 25, moved here in July, 2011.
We spent Christmas Eve in a hotel, building the most beautiful Christmas Tree from beer bottles collected from the executive lounge. This year, my own tree is once again nestled in a box in my garage, five thousand miles away. That is perhaps the only similarity between that holiday and today.
2011: She knew no one when she moved here. She had made a few friends, was sharing an apartment with another English teacher at her school, and had a 45 minute commute to work via public bus.
2018: Her collective of friends is glorious, many couples including Turks and ex-pats. They surround her with love and support. She met and married a good man, bought a home, and continues to thrive as an English teacher in a private school.
2011: She’d studied Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies at university. Not Turkish. Giving herself a crash course in the language during her first few months in country, she’d become conversant, and was able to take care of her personal business, connect with her students, and serve as an able tour guide.
2018: Fluent in the language, she can generally do rapid fire translation for me in real time. She has no trouble conversing with her in-laws, and has built friendships with vendors at the local shops. Unlike Europe, the vast majority of Turks speak no English, so she learned this by necessity.
2011: The Boy was 23, still attending university full time, and fighting The Demons that led me to believe he might not live to see 25. We were close, but i lived in constant fear of That Phone Call.
2018: He is married, with two children. After a stint in the Army, he’s made a home in the great plains, surrounded by extended family. A good government job, a fierce and gorgeous wife who has managed to tame the wild beast… When he and i were here seven years ago, this was an unimaginable future.
2011: i learned enough Turkish to order food and beer. To find a toilet. Navigate an airport or two. It wasn’t pretty, but i could generally pantomime my way through a transaction.
2018: After several visits, and over a year of online studies, i probably have the conversational skills of a small child – animals, colors, numbers, food. No problem with food/beverage, or shopping. i’ve even managed to have a few short conversations with my son-in-law’s family! They are probably more surprised than impressed, but are very supportive.
2011: The tree that year was beautiful. All that mattered was that we were together. The Boy and i were outside our comfort zone, traveling for a holiday in order to spend time with The Girl as she charted a new course for her life.
2018: The tree this year? Pretty gorgeous. Seven years ago, this was also an unimaginable future. A gentle reminder from the universe that we really don’t know where we’re going…
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game
What a holiday for all y’all!! xoxoxo
Quite the adventure – as always, a reminder that adventure comes in multiple formats!
I can generally learn to ask where the toilet is in whatever language, but I’ve yet to learn enough to be able to understand the reply…
Wishing you and your loved ones all the very best this festive season x
That’s me – can manage the “transmit” but struggle with “receive”. This time, I’m picking up more words in conversation. – especially family members who slow down to help me understand. This baby will be bilingual. I want to be able to communicate with her in both languages… It will be fascinating to watch this develop over the years!
Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad, С Рождеством, my dear! (Hurrah for Duolingo.) Hope this is your best year ever!
And to you as well! It’s been nice not dealing with the typical shopping psychosis that has taken over Christmas in the US. No commercials, frenzied sales, or harried clerks…
I don’t need to wish you Happy Holidays. Without doubt they are there. Confusing and exhausted holidays, but filled with joy. Which is wonderful.
It has been relatively quiet, and low-key – which is how it usually is for me at home! But more tiring for sure – we are taking turns with sleep deprivation – he/she who is most in need sleeps the next long stint, with The Girl getting as much sleep when Bebek sleeps as possible!
My hope is that, somewhere along the learning path, the language of music will be added.But hey! everyone is off to a good start. Happy New Year to all!
It’s definitely in the mix! The Girl has some classic rock songs played as lullabies – which is a fairly constant soundtrack to life here at the moment. She and i sing along. i’m also making up lullabies – today’s was “All the Single Babies” (“If you wipe it then you better put a diaper on it…”
That’s a hell of an arc. I like the parts that were twisty and unpredictable. They have a good gene pool. You’ve helped them with that and a few other things. Don’t imagine they would’ve made it without you.Do you know what’s fun? That I got to read some of it in real time. Yeah, that’s how long.
You have to promise me something – someday, when it seems one of your daughters is headed in a direction that causes you angst, will you PLEASE remember this? You have the foundation for this in your journals – when you were That Guy in NYC, did you ever envision a future in the Jersey suburbs, married with two daughters that have changed your world?
I can assure you I never once sat in New York and said to myself, I hope I get to live in New Jersey one day. That was a big surprise. But aren’t we all surprised? None of us see it coming. ESPECIALLY you! What a turn of events!
There’s the dark bit of my brain that embraces the flip side of this – “Yeah, it’s all sunshine and unicorn poop now, but it can also turn to shite in the blink of an eye…”
What a brilliant reflection
Thank you. One of the advantages of staying with this blog for the long haul is the opportunity to go back and see where i was, where we all were. My children have tapped in and out of this – part of my reason for doing this was to give them a glimpse of who i am, and where i came from. i need to get serious about putting this in a more secure archive… because much of the arc of our lives for the past ten years is right here.
i’ve been away since November and just checked in. WOW!!! so much has happened. Congratulations on all your wonderful news.
Thanks for checking back in again! i’ve been a bit lax out here – it seems i have tons to write about, but no time to do it these days… It’s been a good year. 2019 is looking pretty festive, too! Happy new year!
These posts always make me smile. That girl of yours done pretty darn good…
She has! Living a life of very deliberate choices, quiet yet fierce and graceful! How brave she is! I couldn’t be more proud of this woman!
AWWWW Mee-Maw! That looks good on you!
Unexpected that either of my children would have children – i just didn’t see it happening. Surprising at how quickly the little buggers steal your heart. Going home is going to be tough!
You are so right about the reminders from the universe. People forever have been fooling themselves to think they can plan their future. It helps to plan but not because you control future events but because when future events go wrong you are better prepared. Now that I have written this out I need to remind myself of it more often.
Those surprise reminders from the universe can be fun lucky ones.
Wishing the best for your family’s future.
In hindsight this is all so clear – making me wonder what twists the next few years will take. Planning is worth a try, but not getting too wedded to those plans is healthy!