Why Am I Here? or Happy 4th of July!

It’s time. This post is not a philosophical query into who I am and why I am?  I have read Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, and frankly, it’s all Greek to me.  This is a somewhat simple answer to a question I have been asked over and over.  A question I have been asked by friends and strangers, by Americans and Turks.  This is the answer to a question raised in my first post.  Why am I here?  Why did I move to Turkey? 

As you well know by now, I had a great day job in the States.  Over more than a decade, I practiced law for two small boutique firms, suing big companies for bad things, mostly price-fixing.  I enjoyed it.  I loved the work, the travel, the friends I made, and of course, the food.  But I always wanted something more.  My work was never enough. 

But maybe I should go back a bit farther.  

I had been raised in a very large family – and by that, I don’t mean cousins.  I am the thirteenth of fourteen children.  Most of my siblings are still in the Chester County area.  Some of my gazillion nieces and nephews have spread their wings and flown a little wider.  I am the first to leave the country.  My family has given me full support, over and over. 

Hmmm, perhaps that isn’t far enough.  

My mom was a Swiss National, born and raised in Germany.  My Pop met her shortly after WWII, during the American occupation of Germany.  He was a soldier in the U.S. Army.  He wasn’t just an American, he was an African-American, a black man in Germany in the 1940’s. 

Yeah, that’s it.  That’s far enough.  

My mom is an amazing woman.  (Although, once I think about it, she may have just been a tad crazy.)  She met Pop.  Fell in love.  Married in Germany.  Had her first child in Germany.  

And so my story begins . . . 

The two of them, with a toddler in tow, hopped a U.S. ship back to the States.  It took about three weeks.  Did I mention that she was “with child” at the time?  They arrived in New York, not far from Ellis Island, on the 4th of July.  The 4th has always been my favorite holiday, but it has a very special meaning to my Mom.  It’s the day she started her new life in the New World – an adventure per se. 

The rest is history.  The family grew.  Imagine the hard times they endured.  Mom spoke broken English with a thick German accent.  Remember, this is post-WWII.  She married a black man.  At that time, white women didn’t approve of that.  And black women weren’t too happy with her either, having “stolen” one of their men.  Mom managed to make a lot of friends, regardless, both black and white.  She had a ton of kids and little money.  Every day was a new challenge and she was up for it, even when she wasn’t.  

So, why am I here?  I like to think that I have a lot of my Mom in me.  I know from the stories I have heard from my Pop’s old army buddy, the father of a good law school friend of mine, that I have a lot of my Pop in me too.  He led the troops through small villages, basically on a clean-up mission, kicking down doors and zig-zagging his way through mine fields. 

I caught the travel bug when I was a kid.  I had my first big travel opportunity when I was 7.  The folks finally returned to Germany together and dragged the youngest of us along with them.  I went again when I was 12 and at 19.  After that, during law school, I took a summer course in Innsbruck, Austria.  I visited my German family every weekend that summer.  I have been back to Germany once or twice a year since then.  I have also visited France, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Canada and Mexico.  (To be honest, it was Tijuana, and it was just for a few hours.) 

As a lawyer, I traveled quite a bit in the States.  As I mentioned, I made a lot of friends.  These new friends had travel stories that made the mind wander.  I wanted a piece of that. 

Then there was my wedding.  Our guests looked like a convention of the United Nations.  My family alone was colorful.  Black, brown, and pasty white.  Blonde hair with blue eyes and dark kinky hair with chocolate eyes.  But our friends, oh our friends!  Our wedding was attended by Germans, Chinese, Turks, Eritreans, Indians, a South African, a first generation American of Lebanese descent, and one Jamaican.  There was one Hawaiian too, but I guess they count as Americans now too, right?  It was an international feast! 

So, why am I here?  Well, my husband is a Turk.  I had visited Turkey a few times with him over the years.  One day, he asked me to head back home with him.  I quit my day job, sold my house, packed my bags, and began my adventure.  No questions asked.  (Ok, that’s not true, there were questions, but my mind was made up.) 

"At Last"

 I want to take this opportunity to thank my friends who shared their travel adventures with me.  Thanks to my family who have supported my adventures along the way!  A big thanks to my Pop, an adventurer with an edge.  And a special thanks to my Mom, a woman of great courage and a natural instinct for adventure. 

 Happy 4th of July Mom!   

 And if any of you happen to talk to Mom, please don’t tell her I called her “crazy.” 

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.
             Jawaharlal Nehru (Indian Prime Minister. 18891964)

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