Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Erasing Panic

January 1, 2013

Dear Diary,  I am glad to report that I survived all of the fears and trepidations that threatened me in 2012, thanks to God.  I am still here in Istanbul, still happy about it, still discovering new things, still glad for my decision.  New Year's Eve was almost everything I have ever imagined it should be (I didn't get the romantic kiss... but had lots and lots of kisses Turkish style from many new friends) .  I chose to sail on a party boat with  Expat Events of Istanbul... to watch the city celebrate at midnight.  One of my fears about making the trip was that I had no one to go with and only knew the hostess.  Right away I ingratiated myself at a table with a woman who looked to be around my age.  She kindly allowed me to join and I was NOT disappointed with the company that began arriving from the various boarding stops.  Teachers, attorneys, performing art center directors, marketing specialists, and Clint Eastwood.  (Pics to follow)

By the end of the evening, I had several new friends, a glass of Moet, a wild motorcycle ride, and one of the best times I've ever had in my life... and I've had some pretty great celebrations;  Not one but two weddings in the wild unknown parts of New Mexico, a cast party on the faux Japanese castle movie set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III,  New Year's eve in Sevilla with 3 of my sons, a family reunion in Salida with four generations present, and now I can add yesterday and part of today to my list.  People keep commenting that there's a book and movie in my blog.  Everyone says that, I imagine, to everyone who has a blog because anyone can publish to the world now days.  I have my doubts that this humble little bit of sometimes vanity writing will ever be discovered by the masses, but just in case... I am going to narrate the slide from 2012 into 2013 as if it were indeed a movie scene.  So close your eyes and listen to the plaintive azan ring out from the loudspeakers on the two mosques near my apartment, stereo calls to evening prayer... as I ready myself for the festivities.

Three outfits.  It's not cold, but we have been told that heels are okay and sparkle is de rigueur .  I don't want to wear heels.  Not that I don't have great legs now that I am walking everywhere... but I'm just not in the mood for a dress or a skirt... later on I will be very glad I made that decision.  That throws out two options, so the new skinny jeans it is, tucked in with black boots that I will polish.  Turks are very fashion conscious and they do NOT like dirty shoes.  Mine will shine.  And my sparkle... a little flashy purple/red tee... and some magenta eye shadow to match.  Curl the hair.  Lots of big curl.  Mulberry lipstick.  Shiny nail polish.... maroon.  Funny, I just looked up synonyms for maroon because it was turning into a definite maroon themed night, and one of the obscure little definitions is the bursting flower a firework makes.  Perfect.  Some jangly rhinestones, a black velvet coat given to me many years ago by a friend who inherited it from her aunt.  I am hot... smokin'.  I haven't felt this good looking in a long time.

Not wanting to take a bus dressed like I am, and not sure of the NYE traffic, I hop in a taxi and have a lot of fun trying to explain where in Kabatas I want to go.  I tell him "ferry" because I think surely he will know this word, but when he tries to drop me off at the swank Feriye Lokanta... I clearly realize we have a language barrier.  In the end, via sign language and the inspiration to mention the Petrol station near the ferry docks, I arrive, ready to party.
A comedy of errors ensues trying to meet up with the right boat, given there are about 5 party boats lined up at the Kabatas ferry landing.  I make it on board though after some frantic texts..  A cozy little group of beautiful 30 somethings people quickly stake out a table in the rear of the boat wanting very little to do with me.  At this moment I have a choice, I can simmer, cry, or get off the boat.... oh yeah, a new year.... I am tossing off fear so after sadly fidgeting at an empty table, I get up the nerve to ask the lady standing at a nearby spot if she minds if I sit with her.  She obliges kindly, and we make polite conversation which is quickly warmed with a glass of hot mulled wine.  We shove off, after waiting for another group of 20 somethings who DIDN'T listen to my advise not to wander off, wandered off anyway, gotten lost,then eventually board.  One of them says to me, out of earshot from her smart and snotty friends..."We should have listened to you".  I feel smugly vindicated.  Age has its perks on occasion.  I smile magnanimously.  We are off to the last pick up spot amid a black strait dotted with many many boats full of celebrants.  As we pull away, we note the large boat next to us is filled with women in headscarves and full length dress, accompanied by many children.  The tables are loaded with plastic bottles of Orange Fanta, Ginger Ale, Cola, and Water.  I am glad I did not board this boat by mistake.

Happily, Hope, my new friend and table mate is joined at the next stop by a person I have met before, Betty the English teacher, an adventurous spirit who entered the world of international teaching at the age of 67 to teach English at University!  She is sharply dressed in a sparkly little see through blouse and she looks stunning.  Her face is happy and glowing.  I am so glad to see her again.  She is with 2 other people I do not know... who are developing a new performing arts center here in Istanbul.  We make introductions all around and the mezes come out, cheese and crackers, dolmas, spinach pies, dips.  This stirs the crowd and everyone is on their feet for the first round of hour d'oeuvres.

Last stop is way up the Bophorous, I recognize the shores of Bebek.  The coast road is packed with glittering cars traveling to their destinations, the clubs are also crowded and it seems all of Istanbul is in a festive mood.   We stop at Arnavutkoy to pick up the last of our party.  A couple joins our table, two attorneys who are soon moving to Spain.  They are charming, interesting, and friendly.  I am happy to be with these people, and grateful that they have included me in their party.  We head up for a bit toward  the Black Sea.  We won't go all the way, but it is a clear lovely evening and the fireworks are a couple hours away.

There is a table of women near us who are clearly out to have a great time together this new year's eve.  They are all dressed in little black outfits and have had no shortage of spirits.  I am surprised when they approach our table and ask one of the men sitting with us if they can have their picture taken with him.  He obliges and his wife happily snaps away as he is surrounded by the bevy of beauties.  I ask her if this happens often, and she replies, "Oh yes, everywhere we go, all the time."  I am puzzled, and ask why.  "Because everyone thinks he's Clint Eastwood."  I can sort of see the resemblance, so I snap my own photo.  A great memory from an epic night.

 Later when we head up top to watch fireworks together, Hope hands me a bottle of Moet to open.  Now I really am feeling lucky.  I strip the wire sheath and notice "Clint" has been cornered by a rather drunk and aggressive woman who is fawning all over him.  His wife joins me as I begin to work the cork.  "I could shoot her in the butt with this if you like..." I offer.  She chuckles but declines.  The cork pops at midnight and I am suddenly very popular with people who have not spoken to me all evening long.  Interesting how that happens,  "Just tell them no and walk away!" Hope chides me as I pour her a glass, it is after all her champagne!  I do end up protecting the bottle and everyone in our party gets a glass for our toast.  The fireworks pop, the boat horns blow, sparklers are lit, and suddenly everyone is kissing each other Turkish style with a kind buss on both cheeks and a "Happy New Year!".
We chat some more back down below where it is warm and there is more food.  Business cards are passed around so we can keep in touch.  One by one, my new friends are deposited at various drop off points with promises to contact one another.  Hope is still on board and not ready to call it a night.  She invites me to a club after the boat docks.  I think about it a while.  Not knowing where the club is... or how on earth I will get home afterwards, I decline.  I am about 7 km from my apartment.  Traffic is bumper to bumper and inching along down the coast road at about .5 km an hour.  Really.  Revelers are flooding the sidewalks.  It might be fun to walk home I decide, and I bid farewell to Hope and head off, thinking New Year's Eve is over with for the most part.  Never imagining one of the most exciting parts of my evening was yet to come.

Next post........  The wild trip to the second party!

Before I sign off, I have some thoughts I would like to share.   It is actually January 8th as I post this.  Snow is flying sideways and blanketing lovely Istanbul.  School was canceled for today, and I am hoping the same for tomorrow.  I've had some quiet time today to ponder my life, my future, and my place in this world.  New Year's Eve was quite truly, a lot of fun for me.  It's been a long time since I honestly enjoyed this day.  But there is more to it than the parties, the wine, the food.... even the company.  I thought a lot about my experiences since starting this blog... I actually had some panic last night when I was unable to sleep and remembering all I had left behind.  I started thinking perhaps I had made a mistake in coming here.  Though it has been incredibly exciting and new, that alone is not enough to sustain me.  If I lose my connection with my creator, the GOD whom I have loved for so long, the Jesus who has kept me near and loved, the Holy Spirit who has chided, encouraged, counseled and directed me throughout my life... well no experience on this planet can replace this connection.  So the streets of Istanbul, the taxi rides, the exotic people, the flavors, the scents, the Hagia Sophia, the balloon rides, the handsome men, the fantastic people I have met.... are only icing on my cake.  Lovely icing to be sure, but I do count them all as loss in comparison to what I hold most dear.  So as I took this sudden fear to the place of prayer last night, I was, as I have always been, comforted by the still small voice telling me to trust in His grace.  That we are loved and cherished and that I remain sheltered in the crevice of faith, imperfect to be sure, but safe nevertheless.

As my son once wrote on the banner of my cell phone, because he knows me so well...


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