As I type this, I am sitting in my grandmother’s air conditioned house on a hot Kansas afternoon, trying to find the right words. To be honest, I still haven’t processed it all yet. Leaving Turkey felt like stepping through a portal from one universe to another. There is a piece of me that still thinks it will all be there waiting for me exactly as I left it, even though my head knows I won’t be going back for quite some time.
I didn’t sleep the night before I left. The day was filled with tearful goodbyes to students, colleagues, and dear friends, followed by an epic Turkish party at night. We were packing until the very last second. I wouldn’t have left any other way.
I am so tremendously thankful for the memories, the people, and the life-changing experiences.
Her şey için teşekkürler, Türkiye. Sizi özleyeceğim.
As 2018 comes to an end, it feels good to look back on all of the beautiful things I have experienced this year. 2018 has been difficult, but transformative. Big changes lie ahead!
Greetings from the U.S. of A. This is my third summer back in the motherland, and for once, I was able to celebrate the 4th of July in all of its smoky, sparkling, fiery glory. The first leg of our whirlwind journey took place at my grandma’s house in the country, complete with family, sweltering heat, a DIY frisbee golf course, and way too much food.
My husband and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary in the nearby town of Yoder, a tiny but thriving Amish community. My dad and stepmom surprised us by renting out a chicken-coop-turned-Airbnb for the night and I think it might be the cutest place we’ve ever stayed.
I visited my sister in Kansas City, where I tried some amazing coffee shops, hung out at a great arcade bar, read books by the pool, and watched some old childhood favorites on Netflix.
I discovered a board game cafe in Wichita, tried my hand at some marketing for my mom’s boutique in Manhattan, relaxed at my grandpa’s lake house, and circled back to the beginning to pack it all up and say goodbye.
It was all really great, but something hit me this summer: I feel more like an outsider in my own culture than I ever have. Perhaps it’s just the stress of the last year or a symptom of the ever-rising political tension. As great as it is to be home with friends and family, I’m realizing more and more each year that it feels less like home. I guess reverse culture shock rears its head at every expat now and again.
Until next time, America!
Hello, world. It’s been a while.
I guess I decided not to write this summer. It wasn’t so much a conscious decision as it was the fact that I was too busy living in the moment and didn’t feel the itch until just now.
Summer is coming to a close. I’ve got a lot to say, but for now, I’ll just say that I’m back.
A grainy photo of my old passport the day before I moved to Turkey.
Retiring my first passport was like saying goodbye to an old friend. I still remember getting my photo taken at Walgreens, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the prospect of finally seeing the world outside of small-town America. I always found a certain comfort in turning to the first page and seeing my teenage self smiling back at me, full of dreams of faraway places.
My new passport is empty, and thanks to Turkish passport rules, the photographer refused to allow me to smile in my passport photo (in spite of the fact that said rule does not apply to American passports), so I look a bit more like a displeased psychopath than I do an eager world traveler. Still, there is a certain thrill in all of the blank pages of possibility that will inevitably fill up with adventure (hopefully sooner rather than later – I am feeling the itch).
At the very least, I still have my old passport as a souvenir. As I flip through its pages, I like to think that my 16-year-old self would be pleased to know that that passport would carry me to 27 countries, using every last page before it expired. 26-year-old me certainly is.
This year has ended on a really bitter note for me. To be honest, I’m really ready for it to be over. That being said, I don’t want to let the bad overshadow all the good that has come of this year. Here is a look back at my 2017 in pictures:
Here’s to hoping for a brighter 2018.
I might be a little biased, but I honestly think that the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets I have ever seen have been right here in the Kansas prairie.
Even the cloudy night sky is stunning.
It’s been good to be home and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit sad to be leaving next week.