I am on my way to Turkey. That amazing straddler of a country with one foot in Europe and one foot in Asia. A unique secular Islamic state, land of the Turks (obviously). Colorful, historical and vibrant it boasts apple tea, water pipes, carpets, music, Turkish baths, Turkish delight, baklava and shwarma.
My trip today has been a “straddling” trip…At my first airport I felt really grown up ordering a Starbucks soy latte. I could have been a business woman for all anybody knew. I like being mysterious like that, anonymous. No one knows I cleaned bathrooms yesterday or carpooled or made mashed potatoes. They just see me as a traveler with her computer and colorful scarf and warm sweater & boots. I feel so cool.
The next airport (still in Spain) was classy Barcelona. I took in the official Barca fútbol store and artsy Gaudi souvenirs and walked by tapa bars before I settled down to do some work & call home. When I got hungry for lunch I felt less cool & more concerned about airport prices. I felt bad that my husband can go all day on a candy bar when he travels & he stubbornly refuses to pay those prices to get any real food. I ate my minimalist sandwich & diet coke with less gusto.
In Munich I got a lot of reading & writing done, walked to stretch (all the stores were looking the same by now) and finally ordered a cup of tea. It was lovely & warming & gave a sort of companionship as I read. It’s been 12 hours since I left my house this morning and I am still only in Germany. But these hours are helping me transition.
I’m on my way to a language course. A full two-week course open to all but pulling mainly from people in far away places doing far out things for God – on a low budget. I’ll be at a retreat center out in the boonies and they’ve already warned us that “there is nothing nearby, bring everything you need with you”, “bring your own mug for hot drinks” “be forewarned you cannot put ANY toilet paper down the toilet or there will be disastrous results” and so you can see how I started my day feeling “business traveler-ish” but am headed into an upscale campout.
Did I mention it will be cold? “You may want to bring warm sleepwear and long underwear” they wrote. Long underwear! Those words strike fear in my heart, people! Long underwear means EXTREME cold. Long underwear = “you will suffer”. So I am transitioning, straddling, moving from classy Starbucks coolness to humble learner-sufferer.
I can see, though, that this in itself is cool, too. That I can do both. I can live in both worlds (if I put my mind to it). When I land tonight in Turkey I will have one night in a hotel. My own room. My own bathroom. WiFi. My last hurrah. Tomorrow morning I go to the camp. Limited internet. Dorm room housing. Shared bathrooms. No tp down the toilet. And…great teaching, amazing people doing great things in cool places, getting tools for my work, and no cooking! (Then again, maybe we have to take turns on kp!)
On the weekend there will be a chance to see some things. What I most want to do is experience a Turkish bath and shop at an open market (for Christmas!). And skype with my family. And blog & take pictures. Smoke a water pipe and drink tea with the Turks. Bargain. Is my life cool or what?! What a straddle-life I lead!