Thursday, July 31, 2014

Visiting the US - Window Views and Home

After a long 13 hour flight, chasing the sun across the sky, I landed in Seattle Washington United States of America.  The fun thing about flying westward... my flight left Istanbul at 6 AM and landed at 11:25 AM, a full day still ahead of me.  The first odd thing about being back is that everyone speaks English.... all around me.  I can actually understand overheard conversations.  In some ways, I prefer it the other way around, but this is only a minor adjustment.  I breezed through customs without a glitch.... Seattle has certainly streamlined their port of entry and I for one am quite appreciative.

So here I am heading out of Seatac towards the metro train where my son is supposed to meet me.  I have my trolly cart stacked way high with 5 bags and it is a bit of a tower and a juggling act.  As I push the cart over one of the bumps, the top two bags tumble to the concrete.  I am alone, struggling with my luggage with an obvious problem and a need for assistance.  There are people all around me.... and not a single one offers help.  They look at my situation and turn their heads, avert their eyes and walk away.  This would not happen in Turkey.  People on the street or in the airport would have come quickly and kindly to my aid.  What is it about the US that has caused its people to be so fearful of others?  People I know cautioned me severely in my travels to "be careful"... considering Turkey and the lands surrounding it to be "dangerous".  In truth, I find the US to be more dangerous than any of the foreign lands I have travelled to.  On glance at the headlines underscores my point.  Yet US citizens for the most part remain staunch in their mind set that America is a "safe" country, the "best" country in the world.  The deception of perception.

My son meets me and we grab the metro to downtown Seattle, then pick up a car on the street to make our way with luggage to the ferry.  In Seattle there are loaner cars scattered throughout the city that anyone who has signed for the service can just scan info into the car and "borrow it" for a while.  You drop it back off anywhere downtown when you are done and your card is charged a nominal fee for this smart service.  THAT was pretty cool, and I haven't seen anything like it outside of the Pacific Northwest.

I decided to make this post about the things I see from windows in the US that I visited.  I am not really an outsider here... but having lived elsewhere for two years, my perspective of the US and what it is like to live here has been altered somewhat.

My second oldest son lives on an island.  It is peaceful and quiet and low key.  If I could afford it, this would be a place in the US that I think I could settle.  I cannot afford it however.  He and his fianc√© live there on the sound with a lovely woman who made her bit of heaven on earth back when it was still affordable.  It is a small community which is quite green and aware.  The people were friendly and helpful in spite of the fact that it is a tourist destination for Seattlites who need to get away from the city for a weekend.  I love starting my US sojourn here because it is so calm and a lovely place to decompress and adjust.  My stay here was just  too short, but we needed to make the drive to Astoria to do some planning for their wedding which is coming up in August.
Astoria Oregon is a funny place.  I lived there for 11 years.  It is a coastal community that sits at the tip of Oregon on the mighty Columbia river.  The town used to be made up of blue collar fishermen, mill workers, and timber people.  It was a charming place and still is quite beautiful, but has evolved into an artsy hip spot, and lost much (for me anyway) of its charm.  Some of the waterfront is still cannery and fisheries dotted, but more of it is now developed into housing and restaurants and office buildings.  Cruise ships dock there to shop and sight see as some of the old flavour of the town is still evident.  Interesting vessels frequent the river on their way to Portland.  I took this shot from the window of a little apartment I stay in.  My friend and ex-husband is a kind and generous host.  He also loves a good conspiracy theory.  He isn't the only one in Astoria that spends their time wondering what kinds of secret machinations the government and big business is up to.  There were a lot of theories about what type of ship this is.  I love visiting friends here in the summer.  Cold grey winters here drag on forever and I was glad to move from the place, but it is always on my must go to list when I come to the states in the summer.  I will be back there in August.

My next visit was just up the river to the outskirts of Portland.  Hillsboro to be exact.  My oldest son and his wife live in a cute little ranch style house in the almost suburbs.  This too is a very restful stop on my journey.  The neighbourhood is quiet and calm and many of the neighbours are Hispanic.  My sweet daughter in law is pregnant with my sixth grandchild.  I am so looking forward to meeting this new addition to the family.  Much of my time here was spent gazing out their windows and just resting.

This is a funny thing I think that most Americans don't get.  Much of the larger world does not live in "houses" per se.  At least in Istanbul and now Casablanca, I have observed that the vast majority of people live in apartments.  Some communally.  To have a house in Istanbul, you would have to be quite wealthy, and a yard of your own would be almost unheard of.  Grass that must be watered is also a luxury that is distinctly lacking in the parts of the world I have visited and lived.  Water is for drinking and cleaning, but certainly not for wasting on hundred's of square feet of grass that will not be eaten.  The things we take for granted.

Off again to Idaho.  This time on the train.  I absolutely LOVE train travel.  This particular trip runs up the Columbia Gorge and is fantastically beautiful.
 The Empire Builder used to depart Portland at 4:15 PM, but now leaves at 1:30 which allowed me to see much of the trip in daylight and arrive in Sandpoint Idaho at a more reasonable hour of 11:30 PM.

North Idaho is stunning.
Like everyplace I have chosen to live since leaving my home state of Colorado, it is near a very large body of water.  Lake Pend Oreille.  It also is home to some of my favourite people on this earth... my daughter and her family.  I usually stay here the longest.  I take hikes and walks with my youngest grand daughter and spend time at the beach with my other grands. The view out the window from my daughter's home is one of tall pines, a garden, chickens, sometimes moose, and in the winter..... LOTS of snow.  I don't rest much here.  But I do have fun.

Getting from Sandpoint to my last US stop was quite the adventure.  My daughter drove me to my friends house for a wedding celebration, I then took an early  morning taxi back to the Amtrak station where I caught a $15 ride to Spokane, then another taxi to the airport where I caught a plane to Denver.  My sister and mother picked me up at DIA and we drove the 100 miles south to Pueblo in my sister's brand new car.

My time with my mother and my sister is always quite sweet.  Really, the only reason I come back to the states is to see family and friends.  As I look back over the summer... I have come to the realisation that love draws me "home", yet my true home is not America.  There are many things about this country that I enjoy and like to take part in.... but there is nothing specific here that is necessarily "better" than the other parts of the world I have lived in.  It is just another place.  A fairly insular place at that.

No... this is not my home.  My home is bigger, wider, and  comprised of much much  more than a single country can encompass.  My passport says United States Of America, but my heart says Kingdom of Heaven.  The more I travel and live in other places, the more people I come to know and love... the more expansive my real home becomes.  I will, as long as I live, return to the country of my birth in order to be with those I love.  Whether I will choose to end my sojourn on earth there or not, is a question I have yet to answer.  In some ways, it really doesn't matter.  They say - Home is where the heart is....  well my heart lives in many places.  Part of it will always remain in Turkey.  Some of it will live in Australia and Spain with friends who reside there.   A large portion will be spread across the US... and now, as I write this... I can feel it expanding again... finding a place in Morocco.  Until the next time....

May your heart always reside in a peaceful home.


  1. What a beautiful post, Connie! Because you wrote the words, I was able to identify with the same feelings and thoughts. Especially about your heart growing. Mine too. Be in touch. xo

  2. So glad you have returned to "blogging". You know how I love your words. E

  3. Connie, thank you for keeping us current with your life and adventures. Always enjoy your words!

  4. Thank you Abbie. Comments keep me going! It's more fun to adventure when I can share it with others.

  5. Oh my dear friend, I missed this when you first posted it. Your words are so beautiful & resound with my heart. Enjoy your sojourn in Morocco - if you stay there for a while, I might be able to come & visit.