Saturday, January 19, 2013

a stop to wish her a happy birthday

It was a beastly early departure from Istanbul. So be it. You work with what's available. Connecting through Amsterdam, I force myself to stay awake to work a little on Ocean. But as we then hustle to catch our flight to Detroit, Ed points to a sleeping threesome at the airport and says -- you should take a photo, and I do and it's this one:

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A reminder that you have to catch your sleep even as travel attempts to rob you of many opportunities to do so. So on the flight back, I try to rest.

Especially since the journey doesn't end in Detroit. We continue on to Chicago and there Ed and I part ways: he catches the bus back to Madison (Isis needs me! -- is the professed excuse) and I catch the El train to downtown Chicago. I pass time at a cafe (and now I do finish Ocean work) until it is evening. Our family is gathering at a restaurant to celebrate (a day early) the birthday of my littlest one. She turns 28 this Saturday.

I take a cab to the restaurant. I could have taken Els and buses and such, but my tiredness is catching up with me and besides, I am carrying with me a carpet. Because in fact, in Istanbul, I did pick up two carpets for my girls (I could not say this before because both daughters keep up with Ocean) at the store where Haluk talked motorcycles with Ed while his assistant served us apple tea.

My cab driver is a friendly guy. He speaks with an accent that I cannot place and I deliberate if it would be rude to ask his place of birth. In the end, his chattiness makes it possible for me to go ahead and pose the question I'd been asked so often in the last weeks -- where are you from?
And would you believe it -- my cabbie tells me -- Turkey!

It is not a terribly long ride, but by the time he pulls up to the restaurant, I have a piece of paper with the name of the village where he is from and to which he is returning next year. It seems I have a permanent invitation to visit and stay as a guest as long as I want. With my occasional traveling companion.

Why are you going back? I ask.
I'm lonely here, he tells me. He has family and friends back home and though he says he is quite Americanized, indeed, he often pokes fun of his conservative relatives -- the ones in Turkey who adhere to conservative habits of clothing and religion (everyone should go to a mosque if they want to, or wear what they want to, like in America!), he thinks he'll be happier among a people who never shy away from a good conversation.

I tell him we found the Turkish people very friendly, kind and helpful.
Ha! People here say Turks hate Americans! I say to them -- no!
He grins broadly, vindicated. 

And now, at the restaurant, we are all there -- my older girl came down from Madison, my younger one and her guy hurried straight from their work and it is so heavenly to see them all that honestly, I forget for a while how tired I am.

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Back at their apartment we surprise the little one with cake...

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...and finally she opens her presents (including the carpet!) and then we ease into that blissful time where in the warm glow of evening light and with strains of good music (the kids always have the best music at their fingertips) all seems right with the world, except sometime before midnight, I lose my ability to stay awake, as captured so aptly in this photo taken by my younger one...


...only not so young anymore because, wow, could it be so -- she is, indeed, 28!

Today, on the morning of her birthday, I wake up early. Of course. I'm on some different time sequence where morning happened hours ago. One of the many differences between Ed and myself is that Ed sleeps when he is tired, not when someone tells him it's sleep time. My internal compass searches out local custom like a stray cat searches out the cat person who will feed her. In transition times it gets confused and so here I am, in Chicago and wishing that everyone would wake up and we could proceed to breakfast, oh, I'll give you all time to get ready -- shall we try for 5:30?

But, the world sleeps and when we do go out to breakfast, my two fantastic girls, one pretty cool boyfriend and I (the husband had to work up in Madison), it is closer to 10:30.

I order granola with ricotta and cherries. The kids (they are that, no?) consider this to be the most boring selection, but I think I'm merely recognizing a slow awakening of my home self: the one who craves granola or oatmeal for breakfast. And then photographs it as though it's important.

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One last minute with my twenty-eight year old...

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...and then my older girl and I hop back on the El, to pick up the bus that'll take us back home to Madison (and the men who wait for us there).