Road nuggets

Somewhere between London and Philadelphia, the fever hit. i have spent the past week dealing with a mild case of the flu, while managing re-entry after being away from home for a month. Some random nuggets…

  • Thirty days. That is the longest i’ve ever been away from ‘home’ as an adult. This is mostly because of The Job, which i no longer have. Studley and i were very deliberate about pushing our comfort limits, and we’re still sorting out how we feel. Not seriously considering life as ex-pats, but some gentle experience should we ever choose that route.B1
  • i missed my pets. If i am going to do this on a fairly regular basis, i probably should not have pets. My live-in pet sitter had a pre-planned trip in the middle of that 30 days, so i scrambled to hire people, and find a friend, who could cover those 10 days. One of the most stressful aspects of being gone – and most expensive. i took to feeding treats to the street cats and dogs. cIMG_6363
  • Air travel is still pretty awesome – about 12,000 miles flown on this trip. How long would it have taken by ship? Who knows? Luggage lost on the way to Athens, but it found us a couple of days later. British Airways thought we hadn’t shown up for our flights TO Athens, so they canceled our return, but still managed to get us on a flight home. For all the barking about how shitty air travel is, it’s pretty amazing when you stand back a bit…izmir to istablnu
  • Turkey – Izmir is a lovely city – about the size of Chicago. The public transit cards include use of buses, ferries, trams and bike share. To the people who consider this a ‘third world country’? Rethink that shit… We were out and about alone, day and night, and i NEVER felt unsafe.10
  • Plumbing – in Turkey, there are bins in the toilet stalls for the collection of used paper. The plumbing systems and sanitary waste processing facilities do not handle toilet paper. Surprising how fast you get used to this. On the plus side? Most toilets in Izmir (public, private) have built in bidet functions. Surprising how fast you get used to this, too. Exploring options to upgrade my home toilet…IMG_6268
  • Language – We started using an app (Duolingo) to learn Turkish about two months before launch. The Girl emphasized the need to be fluent in numbers – enabling basic commerce. We thought we’d done ok. We were wrong. i DID have a really cool conversation with my son-in-laws 2 year old niece about colors and animals. i think this topic requires a separate post, as there are numerous examples of how things worked, and didn’t, and many lessons learned along the way!b13
  • Baggage – The Girl had a list of things she wanted us to bring, and we hauled another bag of Christmas gifts from The Girl’s Dad and his wife. We had to bring the big suitcases. Limited to 50 pounds each, we still had to deploy two roll aboard suitcases, along with our standard travel backpacks. Didn’t leave a lot of space for our personal belongings – so we packed REALLY light. Turns out, i can live for a month with just a few shirts, trousers/leggings, a dress, a fleece jacket, raincoat, two pairs of socks, one extra pair of shoes, and four pair of undercrackers. Excellent training for what lies ahead…55
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Fierce…

She was born and raised in a small village on the Black Sea, but married and moved to a larger city years later. Ayse is 65 years old, and a widow. We met her while visiting friends of The Girl.

The Girl’s friend, Sevda is married to Pete (from the US). They had a son, Ender, about a year ago, and Ayse spends time with them, helping with the little boy, and managing the household. Ayse has four daughters, three (including Sevda) are engineers, and the fourth is trained as a social worker.

We are working on learning Turkish, but our skills are rudimentary at best. With translation assistance from Sevda and The Girl, i told Ayse that she should be very proud of raising four smart, professional daughters. “In my family, everyone must do something.”

Ayse did not go to college herself, but clearly understands the value of education.

As we picked up Ender’s books, we started sounding out words – numbers, colors, animals. She looked at Sevda with a very determined look on her face, threw a side eye toward Pete, and spoke at length in Turkish.

Sevda said she is going to study English, and was inspired to tackle it because we were trying to learn Turkish. She also said that our Turkish is already better than Pete’s, and thinks he should make the same effort after living in Turkey for so long!

Ayse is a thin woman, wearing modest clothing*, taking the occasional break to go out on the porch and smoke. Her eyes are sharp, and her face looks younger to me than her 65 years. Despite Sevda telling us that she has had trouble with her back, she picks up Ender with ease, slinging him onto her shoulders, her back, turning him a million different ways as she carries him from room to room.

“She could juggle babies! Wow!”

Sevda showed me her garden, which includes herbs, peppers, greens. “That’s an olive tree! We just had a harvest, and made olive oil! Pete and I were picking them from the low branches, but my mother climbed up the tree! She has practically build this entire garden herself! I’ll send home some of the tomato sauce she made this summer!”

As we said our goodbyes**, Ayse invited us to visit us in her home town when we visit again. i told her that we’d help her practice her English if she’d help us practice our Turkish!

In the car on the drive home, i was commenting on how fierce Ayse is – “She is extraordinary! She is fierce, smart – and can juggle babies! How cool is that?”

The Girl seemed a little sad as she said “Yeah… I think she’s sick. Cancer. Not sure of the details, but it’s not a great prognosis…”

baby juggling

Image found here. A famous ‘baby juggler’ statue in Oslo. Who knew?

* In Izmir, women are free to choose to wear modest clothing (hijab) or not. Based on several visits here, and observation, i’d say around a quarter to a third of women – of all ages – make this choice. 

** Saying goodbye in Turkish culture takes approximately 30-45 minutes. There are a dozen words for “goodbye” and the process is complicated, but heart felt. We are still getting the hang of cheek-kissing (right side, left side, right side again for family… i think…)

Ye (ancient) gods…

How would you travel if you had more time than money?

That is the question we chew on now that we are retired. Even with very reasonable retirement incomes, we make less money than we did while working – but must maintain our travel habit!

First up? Couch surfing with my daughter in Turkey! She camped under my roof for a couple of decades, so it’s time for her to repay the favor!

Given the political climate* between the U.S. and Turkey, getting the visa to stay for a month wasn’t trivial. In November, i had been stalking some travel websites, and learned that there was still a process allowing to obtain walk-up visas in the Istanbul airport – but only if you spent a few days in another country. This became Plan A.

Plan A, however, was scuttled somewhere around November 20th, as this work around was shut down – but both embassies announced that a limited number of visas would be processed. This became Plan B – we decided that we’d burn up some frequent flier miles, and hotel points, and plan to spend some time in Athens. Worst case? The Girl could hop over and visit with us, even if we were not given the opportunity to visit Turkey.

The application process was messy, requiring a metric ton of documentation – including pay statements from my son-in-law, a copy of the deed to their home. We had to provide proof of income as well.

We hired a service to expedite visa processing in Washington to hand carry our passports to the Turkish consulate. That was right before we took off for our Christmas holiday in mid-December. Much to my complete and total amazement, we were notified that the visas were granted just a few days later!

As excited as we were to have the visas, there was this bit of news. The US and Turkey came to an agreement to stand down, and return to normal visa processing about a week after we got our pretty stamps in the passports. Because of course they did…

We decided to proceed with a short stay in Athens on our way to Izmir. The Girl joined us, as neither she or Studley had been there before.  Thanks to my 20+ years as a business road warrior, the hotel gave us a room on the executive floor, providing free breakfast, and a happy hour with snacks! These served as two of our daily meals!

i’ll let some photos do the rest of the talking…

6 brealfast

Breakfast on the hotel terrace. That is the Acropolis in the distance. Truly a cradle of civilization, wandering the temples, gardens and facades scattered through the modern city provides a powerful perspective on “old”…

2 Evamgalismos

One of my favorite things about the old section of Athens is riding the Metro! As the Greeks prepared for the 2004 Olympics, they wanted to improve public transportation through the addition of a subway – but when you’re digging in Greece, every hole is full of treasures! Rather than remove them all, many were incorporated into displays at the Metro stops!

Street critters were generally well fed and cared for by some combination of residents and the city government. Many were tagged, giving some evidence of the “Trap, Neuter, Release” program. How very civilized. The U.S. could take a serious lesson here… Did i mention that they seem quite well fed? The three fat pups welcomed us to the Agora, near Monastiraki Square.

Street art abounds! i’m a fan of high quality graffiti, and Athens was not lacking.

10 late lunch

No visit to Europe is complete without time spent in sidewalk cafes. A bit chilly in January, we still managed to find several nice stops – for coffee in the morning, and beer in the afternoon.

We’re both embracing the gray hairs. Life is much simpler since i shaved my head. Studley still isn’t sure about the beard…

 

58

Being devoted “booze travelers”, we visited Brettos – a bar and tasting room operating since 1909. Ouzo, brandy and wine are available for tasting. Being in Greece, we chose the ouzo tasting!

i’ve had better ideas. The equivalent of one serious glass of ouzo got me pretty lit!  Stumbling Walking a few doors further, we stopped for a late lunch.  A giant plate of grilled meat helped me stabilize enough to hop the Metro back to the hotel! Perhaps the wine tasting is a better option?

Three days was enough! In general, i can highly recommend a few days in Athens – and January is perfect for missing the crowds (if you don’t mind a little chill in the air). Five suitcases and three backpacks into a taxi, and off to the airport for the next round…

60.JPG

* Two nominally adult men waging battle over the size of their weiners…

Wings (A Wedding, Part 2)

With the Islamic Marriage Ceremony and the Henna Party, two important Turkish wedding traditions had been celebrated. The wedding, as planned by The Girl and Metin, was to be a blend of cultures and traditions.

A traditional Turkish wedding can have as many as 1,000 guests – and is often a simple “Cake and Cola” event held in a salon for an afternoon. They wanted a beach wedding – and wanted to be quick with the formalities, and then on with dinner and dancing!

While she was home in July, we went shopping for a wedding dress. She had been absolutely terrified of getting a dress in Turkey, as the more modern Turkish brides are apparently fond of bejeweled bodices, massive piles of lace and tulle, and all manner of extreme glamour*. “I don’t want to look like a fucking cupcake!”

The dress found her. At a discount bridal shop, the third dress pulled from the rack fit nearly perfectly, and was beyond stunning on her. We had invited her father’s wife, Fahima, to join us for the dress shopping day.  Perhaps the main reason my ex and i have been able to connect well enough to strongly support our kid? This woman has a huge heart, and bubbly personality – and both of my kids adore her! Deciding that the term “Step Mother” has too many harsh implications, she’s been christened their “Bonus Mom”… a bit more appropriate in this case!

The minor alterations were completed just under the wire, and The Girl was able to get everything she needed packed up and headed home. Invariably, the luggage was lost for a few days – “If that dress is lost and I have to go out and buy another one here? AAAAAAAAARGH!” – but arrived intact a few days later.

We also learned that “RSVP” is sort of an alien concept regarding Turkish weddings. They had planned for about 150 people, but the final count was closer to 200. Since it is still somewhat unusual to have a formal sit down dinner at a wedding, i guess it doesn’t seem to be a big deal… i’d have been ripping my hair out, but The Girl and Metin seemed to roll with it…

Metin’s family comes from central Turkey, and over two dozen family members made the trek – at least 20 hours by bus – to get to Izmir for the wedding! He arranged for two tour buses to transport his family, and neighbors, from the city to the beach.

During the reception, Mehmet (Metin’s father) went to find a translator. He returned to our table with The Girl’s friend, Beth, and was enthusiastically asking her to translate something to us. Mehmet let us know that it is Turkish tradition for the parents of the bride and the parents of the groom to personally welcome each guest at the wedding – and he was inviting us to join them in this tradition.  With Beth’s help, my ex-husband EJ and i were schooled in the proper pronunciation of “Hoşgeldiniz!”

greeting

We agreed, despite being absolutely terrified of screwing this up! Trying not to look as mortified as we felt, we joined Mehmet and Haava and began greeting guests – and i can personally attest to the fact that there were at least 190 people in attendance! It seemed to take forever, but Studley assures me it only took about 30 minutes for us to make the circuit.

dancing

And then we danced. We danced and laughed and danced some more! The newlyweds had pulled together a playlist of both Turkish and English dance tunes. Balancing cultures, they had arranged for each guest to have two drinks – either beer or wine – during dinner. i wanted to be respectful to his family, so it wasn’t until those two tour buses headed back to the city around midnight that i felt comfortable enough to grab a drink…  and have a proper toast with the newlyweds!somewhat staged

i thought we’d danced ourselves out BEFORE midnight, but i was wrong! The DJ kept going, and so did we! Much relief for all that the formalities were over, and we threw it down hard! Many of their friends had booked rooms at the beach resort, so we didn’t clear that beach until somewhere around 4am. Vague memories of dancing salsa with a pretty Colombian ex-pat, and lying in the grass making friends with a stray dog are also in the mix…

It was a great party… And a beautiful wedding… Celebrating my kid and her husband! Merging two families and two cultures – across the old and new generations – as we cheer them onward! i am delighted that she has put down roots. She has a bigger family! And so do i…

new family

* Some examples can be found here… She made a good call!

Wings (A Wedding, Part 1)

They got married, then engaged, and then had a wedding – schedule flexibility was required to accommodate the bride’s family coming from the United States.

When The Girl left for Turkey back in 2011, none of us really knew what to expect – other than that she was embarking on a tremendous, brave and life changing personal adventure. She built a network, found her tribe. She grew professionally. She found love… and a partner… and now a husband.

Studley accompanied me, and my ex-husband EJ was joined by his wife, Fahima and her daughter Alexandra. We traveled and worked as a cohesive team, supporting the couple, and sharing expenses along the way. If you had asked me after the divorce if this would be possible, i’d have put it in the realm of “plausible, but unlikely”. But it worked…

i’d met Metin, my daughter’s fiancé, several times – and have shared many silly moments with him on Skype. We didn’t meet his family until we arrived for the marriage, performed at their home by the Imam. Still a bit jet-lagged, I managed to hoark up a few words in Turkish*“Oğlunuz çok iyi bir adam!” (Your son is a very good man!) and “Çok memnun oldum!” (Nice to meet you!)

His parents were warm and welcoming, and as soon as the Imam arrived, the service began. It was fast, and in Arabic, and just like that, they were married. Happy tears and smiles… and then it was time forthe engagement party.

The engagement – Henna Night (Kına Gecesi) – is traditionally hosted by the bride’s family. Under the circumstances, Metin’s family stepped up and handled all arrangements! A glorious meal, served to the families and a few friends on their terrace as the sun set. My daughter had placed several of her bilingual friends strategically around the table to serve as translators.

Metin’s mother, Haava, sat across from me – and most of our communication took place via smiles and pantomime. She is all of four feet tall and spends a lot of her time hugging and kissing everyone within reach! She assured me that The Girl would be loved and cared for as their own daughter. i thanked her for loving my daughter as her own.

When the engagement ceremony started, i got a bit of a surprise. As dictated by tradition, the groom’s father asked my ex-husband if he consented to give his daughter to their family. Feeling the hairs on my neck stand up, i smiled and shot a glance at my daughter. She smiled and shrugged and whispered “whatever…” and the celebration rolled onward as her father said “Evet!” (Yes!)

The women disappeared to the other side of the terrace, lighting candles and sparklers, and The Girl was given a black lace robe and a red veil. She and Metin were seated in the center of the terrace. Music started, and the girls danced in a circle, singing along… The words passed down through centuries.

These are songs signifying the bride leaving her family for a new family. Ages old, going back to the tradition of arranged marriages, these songs are designed to make the bride cry. İ might have shed a few tears myself that night…

YÜKSEK YÜKSEK TEPELERE – HIGH HIGH MOUNTAIN TOPS

Yüksek yüksek tepelere ev kurmasınlar – They shouldn’t build homes high up on the mountain tops

Aşrı aşrı memlekete kız vermesinler – They shouldn’t give girls to faraway lands

Annesinin bir tanesini hor görmesinler – They shouldn’t neglect the mother’s one and only

Babamın bir atı olsa binse de gelse – If my father had a horse, he could jump on it and come

Annemin yelkeni olsa açsa da gelse – If my mother had a sail, she could open it and come

Kardeşlerim yollarımı bilse de gelse – If my siblings knew the way, they could come

Uçan da kuşlara malum olsun – May the birds carry the message

Ben annemi özledim – I miss my mother

Hem annemi hem babamı – Both my mother and father

Ben köyümü özledim – I miss my village

Henna

*As any traveler trying to get by, i have managed to learn a few words and phrases in Turkish – but mostly related to food and beverage. For this trip? It was absolutely necessary to move beyond ordering beer!

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

As The Girl boarded a bus in San Diego, headed for Mexico, it washed over me like a cold shower – “The next time i see her, she will be changed.”  A day later, she started her Semester at Sea, sailing around the world on a ship with 700 undergraduate students.  Six weeks later, i watched her disembark from that ship as it docked in Saigon Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.  We spent a week knocking around Vietnam and Cambodia together – and seeing her confidence, i realized that i had been right.

We spent our last night there drinking beer in a cowboy bar, listening to a Vietnamese country and western band knock out respectable covers, including a memorable version of “Stand By Your Man”.  Her adventures continued the next day, and i began my journey home.  At 20 years old, she was well on her way to becoming an engaged, contributing citizen of Planet Earth.

She was changed.  She was broader, and deeper, and stronger, and smarter…

Six weeks ago, i watched as The Boy boarded a plane for basic training.  The exact same feeling – “The next time i see him, he will be changed.”  He’d signed an eight year commitment.  All in.  A very challenging, and unknown path ahead of him.  Much like the Semester at Sea, i also knew that he would have very limited opportunities to communicate – adding to the parental anxiety.

Yesterday, i stood at the airport awaiting his arrival.  Two weeks of leave for Christmas break.  Happy holiday travelers filled the exit chute.  i hopped around in the coffee shop, nervously scanning the crowd, looking for military uniforms.  A few soldiers came by, but not mine…

“Oh, I just want to hug them all, don’t you?” said the sweet woman standing next to me.  She told me she was waiting for her mother to arrive for the holidays, but she just loved seeing the young soldiers in uniform.  i agreed, and continued to bop around nervously, waiting for the next pack to walk down the hallway.

i saw him.  Not breaking his bearing, he spotted me and cracked a tiny smile.  i bounced around the coffee bar and gave him a hug. “How did you get taller?  And what did they do with the rest of your hair?”  

“It’s the boots”.

As we turned to head for the exit, i spotted my coffee bar companion.

“And by the way, this lovely lady wants to hug you, too!”

We headed for the car, where i had secured his ‘welcome basket’ – a good India Pale Ale and a pack of smokes.  Non-stop conversation on the drive home.  Tales of bureaucracy, head games, physical challenges and “Shit My Drill Sergeant Said”.  Sick Bay and Hand Grenades.  Running his first seven minute mile (he was at nine minutes just a few weeks back).  And leaning forward into what lies ahead.

He is changed.  He is broader, and deeper, and stronger, and smarter…

Coming Home

No Passing

My business trip to Lyon, France in 2003 was at the height of the politically driven “Freedom Fries” shit-storm. This led to my first attempt to pass for a Canadian abroad. i stopped just short of sewing a maple leaf on my backpack.

i was embarrassed that many of my country-mates – led by members of the U.S. Congress – thought that we could punish those poor, misguided French people by changing the name of a food item they don’t actually claim.  A food item which is the greatest contributor to our collective obesity.

As we navigated the tourist gauntlets of Istanbul earlier this month, we got pretty tired of the touts – men trying to fill seats in cafes or sell us all manner of goods. Practiced in the art of commerce, they’d try to strike up conversation in English as we rushed past.

“We have the best rugs in Turkey! We ship to the United States!”

“Are you from Texas? I’m from Texas, too!”

i went back to a half-hearted attempt to pass for Canadian. Not for any political reasons, just to amuse myself…

“We’re from Ontario! Oot and aboot on holiday!”

When an overly aggressive restaurateur tackled Studley, he joined in the fun, making an attempt to pass for German.

Tout [with menu]: “You American? You won’t find a better meal! Here…”

Studley: Nein…

Tout [in fluent German]: Sumptink sumptink der sumptink sumptink!

We don’t speak German, but it sounded pretty good…

Having been schooled by a linguistically skilled restaurant promoter, we’d given it up by the time we got to Ürgüp for our adventures in Cappadocia. Rather than rent a car and drive off the side of a mountain, or join an organized tour and risk actually LEARNING something, we opted to hire a driver for our time there.  Başar spoke very good English, and with The Girl’s Turkish skills, we were good to go.

The first morning, Başar took us to a nearby mosque. The Girl wanted to buy water and went across the street to small store. Studley and i wandered in the shaded courtyard, waiting for her to return.

We watched a crowd gather around her – if you can call three older gentlemen a crowd. When she returned with the water, she was laughing.

The Girl: I asked for water, and the guy at the shop was surprised that I was speaking in Turkish. The other guys gathered around wondering where I was from, and how I learned it. The older guy offered me a cracker as I was leaving – I tried to refuse it, but he was very insistent!

daisyfae: Seems you made quite an impression! You could have been a unicorn!

The Girl: And THIS is why you guys should stop trying to pass yourselves off as travelers from other countries. I always let people know where I’m from – without apology.  You’re polite travelers, and you make an attempt to speak the language! It’s a perfect chance to let people in other countries know that not all Americans are assholes!

ambassador

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!

A word from a broad…

One word? Magic.

Delightful company*, delicious adventures, and decadent relaxation.

Declared a ‘down day’ while staying with The Girl in Izmir, Turkey. This, after four days in Istanbul, three in Capadoccia, and a weekend by the sea in Bodrum.

Several epiphanies – large and small. Mostly enjoying spending time with the woman i birthed almost 27 years ago. Trying to figure out how i can be just like her when i grow up.

Not my photo...

* Studley has accompanied me on this trip, as The Boy is working. We have become “Turkish Toddlers, 2.0”, since The Girl has had to keep us from bickering, make sure we have enough beer, and keep us from walking out into traffic.

Driving Toward Istanbul

It was only 60 miles, but i drove The Girl closer to Istanbul last night.  She was spending the night with The Boy, and then catching a flight home today.

Home.

Yep.  It’s her home now.  She’s been living there since July.  Her bed is there.  Most of her friends are there.

The only incentives i offer?  A large brown dog and a surly orange cat.

Her dad bought the ticket.  Since he’s busy with work and hates travel, it seemed a reasonable solution.  She spent a few days with The Boy in the big university town, hanging out with her best gal pal there.  The Boy drove them north to visit their dad for a few days.

They arrived at my place last Thursday night.  As always, there was an ‘over/under’ bet involved.  This time?  They bet on Mr. Pickles abilities as a guard dog.

The Girl:  How long do you think we’ll be in the house before he wakes up?

The Boy:  Two minutes.

The Girl:  I’ll take “over”.

The Boy actually won this round, as the sleepy old brown dog shot out of my bed like a rocket as soon as the front door opened.  Even the cat went to investigate.  The Boy had been chauffeur for the week, driving her where she needed to go.  He needed to get back to work.  And by then, they’d had more than enough “brother-sister bonding time”.

Four days.  We made the most of it…

Friday night was “My Drunk Kitchen” night.  The Girl and her best gal pal went with me to a big downtown hipster bash, and we stopped for supplies on the way home.  i made “Froot Loop Russians”* while they baked S’more brownies from scratch.  It was a good night.

Saturday morning?  Off to the local market for crepes, cheese, veggies and people-watching.  She got in lots of shopping – access to a car, rather than public transportation, made it far easier for picking up gifts, and essentials.

The Girl:  I’m buying America.  I need to find things to bring back that are inherently American.  Do you think they’d have Busch beer coozies at the gas station?  Belt buckle beer bottle openers?

Studley and i took her out to dinner at a Turkish restaurant that night – in case she was missing the cuisine of home.  i’d been using my pigeon Turkish on the poor servers at this restaurant since my trip in December, and was excited to show them how cool my daughter was, being comfortably conversant in their native language.

We never stop being proud of our children.  Or coming up with new ways to embarrass them…

We stopped at the liquor store on the way back home.  Mostly to get more Froot Loop vodka, as she knew she wouldn’t be able to get that in Turkey.  Still jazzed from the chance to let her show off her language skills, i continued to brag on her to Studley.

daisyfae:  That’s my kid!

Studley:  Yup!  You made her!

daisyfae:  She came out of my vagina.

The Girl:  It was a c-section.  Technically, out of your stomach.

liquor store clerk: Do you want all this in a bag?

daisyfae:  Nah.  We’re just going to drink it in the parking lot.

These kids are remarkably tough to embarrass…

We both sort of dreaded it, but Sunday was the visit to The Park.  She wanted to see Mom, but it was when i told her that the entire Clampett Clan would be descending upon the ol’ Hibachi Grill and Buffet** that we both cringed.

The Girl:  I really want to see Granny.  And Aunt S is ok.  Would be great to see Uncle T, too.  But DQ?  BJ?  Their spawn?

We made it through.  She had a good time talking with Granny.  And Granny loved her gifts… And the time with a functional grandchild.  Who doesn’t ask her for money.

We also listened to BJs tales of training for “Mixed Martial Arts” cage fighting.  Of their newest 4-wheeler toy.  Their four-year old saying “I’m gonna fart on you and give you pink eye”.

Yay.

The Girl managed to get all the liquor her gifts packed up, and we drove eastward last night.  Met up with The Boy at his place around 11:30 when he got home from work.

Seeing as i’d missed Easter for both of them, i was prepared.  There is a history of coming up with ridiculously blasphemous easter basket inclusions.  This year?  i think i outdid myself.

The Boy found this in his kitchen when he came in from a long day at the factory.

i left shortly afterwards.  Drove westward in the rain.  Only cried for the first 20 miles.  i’m getting better…

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* From the “I can’t make this up” files.  Three Olives Loopy Vodka.  If you mix it with milk?  Tastes like the leftover stuff in the bowl after you finish your Froot Loops We were hammered before the brownies came out of the oven…

** Pronounced “boo-FAY”.