We have officially reached the one-year mark at our post here in Adana, and I can state with all honesty that I have no idea where the time went. It's so hard to believe that exactly one year ago today, our plane was landing at the tiny Adana airport with three seriously exhausted passengers and two confused and terrified pets. Our flight was profoundly delayed due to a snow storm that left us grounded on the tarmac in Istanbul for 6 hours, so by the time we arrived in Adana, it was close to midnight, E was delirious from jet lag and lack of sleep, and S and I were just hoping that our sponsor hadn't left us stranded considering the late hour. Thankfully, she hadn't. And one year later, we still joke about that arrival. Her words upon seeing us with our 6 suitcases, 2 carry-ons, large dog crate, cat crate and tentative smiles on our faces were, "Yup, this is definitely a foreign service family. Welcome to Adana!"
And what a welcome it was. We have had some amazing adventures this past year, from big vacations in Italy and Greece, to quiet days at the local beaches or exploring castle ruins. But it is the people we have met during this past year who have made this experience so unbelievably amazing. We have made some truly wonderful friends here.
Like, have I ever told you about my dear ex-pat friend, K who I accosted on the street our second week here because I overheard her speaking English to her daughter? After being transplanted into a world where I did not understand a word anyone was saying, hearing English was like sweet music to my ears. I just couldn't help myself. And, well, she and I are besties now. Not a week goes by that we don't get together so our kids can play while we sit and chat about Turkish politics (she has lived here for five years and knows far more than I do) or about what crazy antics our kids have been up to.
And then there is the neighbor who knocked on my door the first day and insisted we go upstairs for tea so we could get to know each other. Another stranger turned bestie whom I couldn't imagine this last year without. She introduced me to the best local textile and produce markets, and even pointed out the clothing boutiques with the killer sales. She has literally let me borrow a cup of sugar, and I have likewise returned the favor. We have shared more glasses of wine together than I have with anyone in years, and our talks have run the gamut from celebrity gossip to serious family-related issues. Her three kids are E's saving grace sometimes, and he practically counts down the minutes until he gets to see them on the weekends. Oh, and her impromptu dinner parties are never short of delicious. Best lasagna, hands down.
There are countless others, too. Like our other neighbors, those same sponsors I mentioned earlier, who know how to throw a mean Happy Hour. I mean, the tiki bar in their living room is practically begging for people to saddle up to it on a Friday night. Or my favorite ladies from the local staff who have showed us ex-pats the best restaurants, bars and nicest hamams in town, and who have poured so much love and affection on E that he runs to them with outstretched arms any time they are near. Or our doormen who never fail to greet us with a smile and even go out of their way to make sure we are comfortable in our home at all times. Then there are the women at E's school who have smothered him in hugs and kisses since day one, never missing an opportunity to show him he is loved; who have invited me in for tea and a chat, never mind that we spend more time typing to each other via Google Translate than we actually spend chatting.
We just couldn't imagine this last year without them. All of them. Because it is the people you meet on this crazy journey that are the true magic. They are what make this experience great.
We are excited for this upcoming year, even though it will be bitter sweet when the time comes to say goodbye, first to our neighbors when they leave this summer, and then to the others as it becomes our turn to depart next winter. It will be sad, but if this next year is even half as fabulous as this past year, it will have all been well worth it.
How does that Garth Brooks song go? I could have missed the pain, but I'd of had to miss the dance?
Yeah. When our time is up, we will not have missed this dance for anything.