The plane ride was hectic and long, as anticipated, but the kids were wonderful. They are not angelic or without their kinks, but they are little troopers. We didn't sleep much, during the hours that we should have been sleeping, and I was surprised and amazed by how they just kept playing, and walking through airports, and standing in line, with a minimum of meltdowns. I was also blown away by just how bone-weary that journey made me. WOW. Being pregnant really adds another dimension to your jet-lag, like tracers and stuff.
We are a bit of a spectacle, wherever we go. Chinua already draws a lot of attention, with echoes of "Bob Marley, Bob Marley," following us as we walk down the street. But with the three kids and my round belly, we get even more attention. It's good attention; people everywhere call out, "Very Good!" in Turkish, which is cool, getting points just for dragging our kids around. They probably don't see a lot of tourists with a young entourage like ours.
And the cheek pinching that has been going on! Turkish people are cheek pinchers, let me tell you, and once again, the kids have been responding really well- laughing and ducking their heads. Leafy has been giving people fives when they hold out their hands for handshakes, which just makes him look really enthusiastic, and YaYa has had her hair touched a lot. Will it get old? We'll see. If people keep giving them candy, Turkey may become a favorite place for them.
Yesterday in the taxi from the airport a man in the car next to us started smiling and talking to Leafy. Then he picked up a little stuffed frog keychain and gestured for me to take it. I opened my car window and reached across to where he was holding it out. "Thank you! Thank you," we said. It's amazing how people love children here.
We are staying in the crappiest, tiniest little guest house, with artsy iron railings on the stairs and a kitchen where you should just close your eyes before you walk in. The guy working this morning made us a breakfast of bread, jam, cheese, tomatoes and boiled eggs, and later, when Leafy had finally woken up (at 10:30 we were starting to wonder if there was something wrong with him, but I think he was just catching up) we found him some food. The manager came in, asking whether the protein was in the yellow or white of the egg- we fumbled our way through answering him, and he gestured toward Leafy, "I just was wanting to make sure he got some protein and I wanted to know what part of the egg to get him."
It's so heartwarming, when people look out for your kids' protein intakes and give them toys from the next car, wipe their noses and exclaim over them. It heals that whole children are an embarrassment in public vibe that can emerge from American culture at times. And it seems like we are going to be okay.
Because of course there I am, wondering whether we'll be okay, picking things to death philosophically, even while we wander the streets of Istanbul and my kids are playing leapfrog over the decorative short poles on the sidewalk, while we eat Turkish Delight (truly delightful) and my kids race each other through the park, while we walk through the Public Bazaar looking at lamps and dishes and rugs, and stand in the shadow of the Hagia Sophia. I am seeing it all, marveling, yawning, shifting from foot to foot, eyes wide and happy, but I am wondering one thing- Who are we now? Away from where we were? Who will we become?
And then I remember who we are right now. That we are loved, that we are holding each other's hands tightly. I remember to trust God again, and to live in this day.
And Chinua and I see each other and smile and try to remember not to kiss in public.