Sorry, sorry. We were in the U.S. for a month and in the week that we’ve been back, I’ve just been uninspired. The trip to the States was great and my Turk travelled further than some Americans do! We flew into New York City and I almost cried tears of joy when we were going through customs. It was just so nice to be surrounded by English! Sometimes I think I underestimate the stress of being unable to communicate easily. Yes, I get by, but almost every interaction here induces at least a little bit of stress. Anyway, it was nice to be on American soil, as they say…to feel comfortable and at home. Who ever thought that even going through customs could give one a warm fuzzy feeling!?
We stayed five days in NYC with my Dad and his fiance. If I had to sum up those five days using one word, it would be walking. We walked everywhere! We were those tourists wandering around with our cameras. I kept calling Mustafa “my alien” because often I’d look over and catch him with his mouth gaping open as he stared upward at something or other. It was cute. Fortunately for us, I spent a summer in New York during university, and my dad does live there, so I’m familiar with the city and generally know where I’m going. Also we were insanely lucky with the weather. The first day there was over 50 degrees and we could walk around in light jackets and not freeze, which had been my fear. In general, the whole trip to the U.S. was relatively warm and snow-free. The lack of snow was actually disappointing to me!
The next stop on our tour of the U.S. was Austin, TX. Two of my best friends live there and I had a free flight to use, so we figured “why not?” Our little visit grew to be the reinstatement of an old Martin Luther King weekend tradition, in which we’d all get together, along with our husbands, in a big rental house for the three-day weekend. There were seven of us, four of our husbands, and the big change was the addition of five kids! Poor Mustafa did remarkably well meeting all of those new people for the first time, in such a confined space. On top of it all he was a little sick and we were just overcoming our jet lag. It was fun to spend time with my best friends and acquaint or reacquaint myself with the little ones!
Then it was back to NYC for a night, a bus trip up to Connecticut to get my car and a drive back down to New Jersey to visit my family. My grandparents and two of my mom’s sisters live in the same town so it made it convenient to see everyone in one place. There we finally got to really relax (once the introductions to my family were over!) and settle into suburbia for a while. Oh, and we ate…and ate…and ate. My family is Italian so there’s never a shortage of food! Ever! Kind of like the Turks! At any given time my grandmother will ask, “are you hungry?” and even if you say “No,” or “Maybe just for something small,” there will be a giant spread of food in front of you. My family also did a little wedding celebration for us and my uncle came up from Maryland to see us. We did champagne and had a delicious wedding cake too. Just a few months late :)
The other fun thing we were able to do in NJ was visit one of Mustafa’s friends from home. I find it amazing that somebody from our little town here in Turkey happens to live only 20 minutes from my family there, but he does! So we went over to their house for dinner and had a really fun night. It was nice for Mustafa to get to see someone from home after meeting a million new people, and his friend was so happy to see a familiar Turkish face too.
Leaving New Jersey was reminiscent of when we’d leave there when I was a child….meaning, I cried. I don’t know what it was…I suppose I just don’t take for granted my time there anymore. My grandparents are amazing and thank God they’re healthy at 82 and 87 years old. Insallah they stay that way. I think it’s also harder after losing my mom. Those are the people and that is the place that has always been constant in my sometimes chaotic life, so it’s very special to me. Anyway, I know that it won’t be the same forever and that idea makes me very emotional. I definitely appreciate every day I have there with some of the people I love most in this world!
Speaking of favorite people, next on our itinerary was my brother’s in Connecticut. My brother and I are very close so it was great to be able to spend almost two weeks with him and his wife at their house. Also nice was the fact that David works from home so even though he was working, he was around too. There it was more typical American suburbia. We went to Target (again, almost cried…I miss that store like crazy!) and Best Buy and the grocery store and Costco. Serious America, people. I also got to go through all of my papers and mail since David is lucky enough to have the fun job of being my pseudo-secretary while I’m here.
There Mustafa developed his addictions to Marshalls and buffalo sauce. Seriously, what man loves picking through the racks at Marshalls? My man does! I think we went to four different Marshalls and two different TJ Maxx stores. Who doesn’t love a bargain, I suppose! I think he also polished off a few bottles of Frank’s Red Hot sauce. We may need a 12-step program soon!
By far the worst part of the trip was going through all of my stuff and deciding what to pack into our four suitcases and two carry-on bags. It was tight, let me tell you. In retrospect, I wish I had just brought more over initially and used an international shipping company. I’d definitely have been better off not selling my furniture and buying new here, given my
classier better different taste and appreciation for materials natural to this Earth! Hindsight…
In our time in CT we also made two quick trips up to Massachusetts so I could show Mustafa my town and so he could meet my friends there. It’s difficult because I have no home base there now that my dad and brother have moved elsewhere. We went to dinner with two of my best friends from high school and got together with some of my best friends from work. Mustafa always thinks of working in an office being akin to Hell, but I think he realized too how much fun some of my co-workers are and how that can make all the difference. Otherwise I’d never have survived nine years (!!!) there.
Phew, this has been long! It was a great trip filled with family and friends. Next time will be a lot less stressful now that all of the introductions have been made. I’m happy that Mustafa got to see my “home” and meet the people in my life. Also to be familiar with my basis for comparison when it comes to living here vs. there. Dangerous as that can be :)