In 2012 I left Turkey -- which will remain one of the greatest places I have ever lived. Not so much for the country but for the amazing people and community that loved me while I was there.
In fact, every single person I have talked to who was with me in Turkey during those two years will tell you that they have not had that situation repeat itself. They will say, "I've made some friends, but nothing like Turkey."
It was simply idyllic.
Following Turkey, I headed to the Azores and now Tennessee. My friend Stebbins went to D.C., Alabama and now Nebraska. Angelica headed to Japan (where her husband deployed) and is now outside of Boston. And our Turkish friend Rana, who was married to an American, moved to Minnesota and is now very far from her home country.
We had two other girls we had hoped could join us. Our friend Sarahbee had just moved and has a new baby. And our other friend Linda is in Germany.
We had many other friends in Turkey of course, but this group of women was all very connected to each other and to Christ, and so, months ago, we put in motion a plan to finally have a reunion.
We had two rules:
- Eat good food.
- No children.
Stebbins arrived Friday afternoon. Rana and I got in on Friday night. Angelica wasn't coming in until Saturday morning so the three of us headed out for some Dim Sung. Yum!!!!
And here is Angelica, on her flight, heading toward D.C. to meet us:
By Saturday evening, it was time for dinner. We ate at a restaurant across from the White House, and had two other Turkey friend who lived in the area meet us for dinner. From front left: Anu, Rana, Molly, Stebbins, Wendi, and Angelica.
Afterwards, we walked across the street to snag a picture in front of the White House:
On Sunday afternoon, another friend, Casey, drove over from her new home about an hour away to see us as well:
On Saturday and Sunday we ate great food and saw some of the highlights of Washington D.C. Here are a few of my favorite pics:
One of the highlights of our trip was dinner on Sunday evening. We found a Turkish restaurant near our hotel on Dupont Circle. Rana was nearly giddy as we headed there. In the end, it was very good food, but most of it still pretty different than the Turkish food Rana misses so much. One dish (a Turkish noodle with yogurt on it) was nearly identical to Turkey. We loved that one!
Getting ready to eat!
They even had Raki (a Turkish alcohol). I know JB was sad to miss that!
I LOVE Lahmachun!
So many times on this trip I was reminded that I am definitely an American. Angelica is from Spain. Rana is from Turkey. And as we would go and see an exhibit, they would ask Stebbs or I a question that caused us to realize there are so many things we just instinctively know as Americans. Why is the Washington Monument a tall building? Why is the Eagle our national bird? Why was Abraham Lincoln such a famous president?
But by far one of the most interesting things I took away from this trip was that culturally, we just do things differently as Americans. And even when we've lived outside of America or inside of her borders for an extended period of time, who we are is still in us.
One good example? Everywhere we walked, Stebbs and I had a sort of "let's get there and then chill out" philosophy. As Americans, we don't dally. We walk with a mission. Once we arrive, then we can sit and talk or relax.
But Rana and Angelica? S-l-o-w walkers. And not only are they slow, but in the middle of their conversations, they might just stop, right on the middle of the sidewalk, to discuss an important part of their story.
Stop? On the way to get somewhere? What on Earth for?
I even got a picture of their mosey-ing along!
Stebbins left to head home pretty early on Monday morning. So I became the new tour guide. We decided to walk to the Lincoln Memorial before we had to check out of our hotel at noon:
After that, it was time to go. We all had flights around the same time so we checked out of the hotel and took the Metro to Reagan International Airport. We had some Japanese food outside of security before, one-by-one, we headed to our respective flights to our respective cities.
This trip was, by far, one of the highlights of my year. Not only did I need this time away from being a wife and a mom to just be a girlfriend, but these women are my sisters. They are my family. I love them so much.
We are hoping this can be a yearly occurrence! Next year we are eyeing Boston!