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Love is…

Looking at love realistically, we understand that those who have it are often dissatisfied with the ways in which in manifest.  Love is messy.  Love is loud fights.  Love is late night arguments.

Love is as terrifying as it is terrific.  Love is scandalous.  Love is savory and sweet.  Love is often why we can’t have nice things.  Love is verb. Love is an action word.  Most of all, sometimes, love will fail.  It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t really love, it just means that (in the words of the Tina Turner song) love had very little to do with what happening at the time.

Love is boastful; have you seen the number of wedding/ engagement posts on social media? Love is, at times a little envious; ask anyone who sees other relationships progressing to marriage while their’s stands still. Love keeps no record of wrongdoings, EXCEPT in situations where you’re trying to prove a point.

I am certain that whomever wrote that part of 1Corinthians 13: 4-8 wasn’t referring to the love that exists between people.  Not only does love keep records, love gets really angry when the other person’s account of what happens doesn’t match yours.  Love gets down and dirty because ultimately, it is love that we all seek.
Love is not always patient. We want what we want when we want it.  Love isn’t always kind.  Sometimes, unkind things are said out of fear of losing the love we have.  Love can be selfish as evidenced in the initial stages of any relationship. The more time we spend together – the more time we spend together.  Love is a game changer.  Love is like Bruce Lee’s one inch punch:
  So the next time you’re feeling frustrated, a little down and out, and angry, know that most likely, you are loved.

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Turkish Taxi…

The taxi driver insisted that I sit in the front seat. As we exited the airport area I immediately noticed the run down buildings on either side of us. A combination of different stages of renovation; some were bare concrete, some had been partially knocked down, and others were painted bright pastel like colors. I assumed that the buildings still standing had stronger, more solid foundations. Perhaps the others were simply outdated and/or too old to remain useful. Oddly enough each one, in its own way, added to the uniqueness of the area.

I noticed a man, wearing a rumpled white button down dress shirt that was more out than tucked in. His blue jeans were loose but even as he walked under the light, the slight bow of his legs was very noticeable. The bright reddish orange glow from the cigarette he held in his hand seemed to set the pace for his walk. Occasionally, he would look up, take a drag, look down again, and then continue walking. The backpack and small suitcase on wheels that he pulled along slightly behind him, made me wonder if perhaps he lived nearby. He didn’t seem to be in any sort of rush. Maybe he was going to surprise someone? Maybe he was going home to an empty apartment? Maybe someone had simply forgotten to pick him up from the airport? Who knows? I watched this man, in the side mirror until I couldn’t see him any more. As I meandered through the many metaphors in my mind, I exhaled a little bit. I was almost relaxed when the taxi driver said something. I was lost in my own thoughts and (since I don’t speak the language) I didn’t try to figure it out.

Suddenly, all of the buildings seemed to become one big blur. We went from a cruising along slowly to warp speed in all of what felt like a few seconds. This man who, obviously thought we had to have been there yesterday, loved driving with lightening speed. He was laughing (probably at the terrified look on my face ) and saying something (again) that I didn’t understand. I think I almost saw a very large Mosque but cannot be sure because it went by in a flash. When he finally slowed down to “too fast” I was beyond relieved. When we stopped in front of the hotel, I remained seated. Not because I wanted to spend any more time in the taxi, I just needed to wait until my legs stopped shaking. I used the weight of my backpack to steady myself as I paid the taxi driver. Ironically, the very thing that I  complained about earlier ( the weight of my backpack as I lugged it around the airport terminal), was now the only thing that kept me grounded.

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Pack Light…

Pack light…

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It doesn’t matter where I am seated, watching the other passengers rush to exit the airplane is something that I enjoy. This trip was no different. As soon as they were able, damn near everybody, stood up. Some were standing in isles, some were doing a half stand, and hanging on to the back of the seat in front of them. It always makes me laugh a little inside. The door to the exit hasn’t yet been opened but there they are – awkward stances in all – holding on to carry on’s with all their might, staring eagerly ahead. They are like children waiting for the recess bell to ring. Just like that, the door open and they’re off. Everyone, except of course me…the people watcher.

Everything about this trip had tested my resolve. From realizing that I would have to pay an additional three hundred dollars to check an extra bag to the trip (literally) down the stairs. The back pack that had been my pride and joy, acted as a constant reminder of what happens when we refuse to let go.

We are burdened down by the things we chose to hold on to; either because we think we need them, or simply because we don’t know how to let them go. That “trip”down the stairs from the plane was, for me, life’s little metaphor. Figure out what you really need and take only half of that with you. Leave the rest behind or you will stumble, fall, and/or get caught up in your own stuff.

Technically, my back pack landed on Turkish ground before me. I think (what was left of) my pride did too. I collected myself and headed toward the little shuttle – only to be told by someone who’s expression was everything but friendly, to move over to the other side of the runway. It isn’t that I understood him. Clearly, he thought I had a hearing problem because he began saying the same thing over and over louder and louder each time. Finally, he began motioning, pointing, and making gestures with his hands, until I began doing as I was told.

I made my way over to few other people who were standing off to the side of the plane. Since none of them spoke English, no one tried to make conversation. Still, however, standing there in silence gave me time to collect my thoughts. Being there with them, was also much better than standing alone. When they moved, I moved. When they stopped, I stopped. Gave new meaning to “following the crowd.” I was laughing to myself and wondering (since they were the only other people there), if this meant that I was finally part of the “in-crowd” when the airport man began saying something. After he finished speaking, they started to walk towards the glass doors, so I did too.

Three very large, very heavy, and very, very, overpacked suitcases waited for me in the baggage claim area. I was more than thankful for the attendant. He put my luggage on a cart, pushed it outside, and waited with me until he was able to summon a taxi. Such a simple thing, but for me, it meant feeling less alone. He made conversation, and although his English was very bad, and my Turkish non-existent, I realized that I was just happy to have someone to talk to. It couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes but in those 10 minutes the tenor of my trip changed. I began to feel proud of myself for having made it this far.

The attendant said something to another person who was standing there, and within minutes, a taxi arrived. He spoke with the taxi driver in their language. I only know this because I recognized the name of my hotel when he said it. The taxi driver popped open the trunk, of what looked a like a toy car, and then began to struggle with my suitcases. After quite some time, a great deal of effort, and the airport attendant’s help, they were finally able to secure my luggage.

Another one of life’s little metaphor’s; when you refuse to let go other people sometimes struggle with the stuff you hold on to.

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Getting there….

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By the time I boarded the plane from Istanbul to Adana exhaustion had become my constant companion. I don’t remember falling asleep. I only remember the flight steward shaking my arm to wake me up.

Standing in the passport line only to be told by the guard that I needed to go get a Visa then return was only the beginning of my frustration. He never made eye contact with me. It was almost as if I were invisible. He looked at me, but he never really saw me. To be looked at and not seen is troubling. This man had more regard for the pen in his hand than he did for me. In his eyes, I was nothing more than someone he needed to tell to move one. I stood there, stunned, frustrated, sweat dripping profusely into my eyes, so when he waved me away with his hand, I was more than ready to go.

On my second trip through the passport line, I was even more aware of the different people. Everyone seemed to be in a rush. People spoke amongst themselves, but no one made eye contact with anyone they didn’t already know. The line was much longer this time, so I amused myself by attempting to make eye contact with people who appeared to be trying their hardest to avoid it. That’s when saw her. Long flowing black linen covered every part of her. The space for her eyes was so small that I almost couldn’t see them. I wondered if she had seen me. The moment that she looked up, I looked away. She was isolated. There, in a crowd of at least two or three hundred people she stood completely still. Not looking, not shifting her weight. She was a silhouette, standing among people, who, like me, did their best not to acknowledge her. Everybody looked at her, but no one really saw her.

The passport/visa line took up 3 of the 6 hour layover and for that I am grateful. When I was finally able to get through to the airport terminal, it occurred to me that I was completely lost, so I found a chair and sat down. A group of Americans from different states were waiting for one more couple’s flight to come in. I sat back and listened and immersed myself in the sounds of English. (Note to self – when deciding to venture overseas again be sure to check out Ex-Pat communities).

Finding my way to the correct terminal was a feat that I was (and still am) proud of. I found Starbucks, the bathroom, and an excellent place to sit, read, and people watch. I made up little stories in my head about the people who passed by. The image of the woman I had seen earlier was still quite clear when, three women, covered in flowing black robes with just enough space for their eyes to be seen, stood briefly in front of me. It is important to note here that in addition to her robes, one of them had on gloves and scarf too. This time, however, I looked. This time, I saw them; standing there, heads held high. Their pride was very apparent in an extremely humble sort of way. Their posture said “this is who we are, able to make a statement without ever saying a word.” There was strength. There was dignity. There was respect. It is a moment that will remain with me always.

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Circus Circus…

Circus Circus Hotel & Casino Review:

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The dirty lobby should have been my first clue but it was late, the drive was long, I was ready to settle in for the night. Next clue should have been the less than enthusiastic valet and the fact that the bellhop never arrived to assist with the bags. The room smelled – weird funky – strange smell. The carpet looks like it hasn’t been cleaned since Ringling Bros & Barnum were infants. There is an atmosphere of dust and dirt. The mattress feels like the room smells – strange & weird. I called the front desk who said they would send housekeeping to spray. I asked would it be safe to inhale. I was told that it would be fine, however, when the housekeeping came & began spraying, she immediately said, “Cover your eyes.” The smell from whatever she sprayed is making me sick to my stomach and burning my nose. Housekeeping went to turn the air on to ventilate the room but noticed that it was not working properly. She was helpful in that that she called maintenance to fix it. They did @ 4:45am. It had to be fixed as soon as possible bc the stench from the room and the awful scent that was sprayed are putrid. So, I am here, trying not to vomit, fully clothed, wrapped up in my sweat jacket. I refuse to take my shoes off – yes it’s that bad. Just killing time until the sun rises so I can go. I’m going to ask for a refund. This is beyond awful! DO NOT STAY HERE!! YOU WILL REGRET IT!

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A Different Kind of Deployment…

“You feel like a shadow on the front porch of what used to be your life; looking in, very present, but only on the periphery.”

Traversing the world is wonderful, but missing out on time with your family, is not.  So, when the opportunity to take an assignment in my home state arose, I couldn’t have been happier.  If only I had known….

As difficult as being deployed is for the loved ones of those serving in the various branches in the military, it is that much harder on the service member. This is a “different kind of deployment” because although the service member hasn’t gone, their training schedules can keep them away for weeks at time and, in many ways, being just far away enough not to go home every day is much more difficult that not being able to go home at all.

You’re doing what you have to do to support them.  They are doing what they have to do as well – but it takes its toll on all involved.  There is distance – where before there was none.  You feel like a shadow on the front porch of what used to be your life; looking in, very present, but only on the periphery.

The back and forth takes its toll. Now you see them, now you don’t.  You look forward to being with them when you can, but even more than that, you dread having to “readjust” when you return to your life without them. You wonder if they really understand and/or appreciate the sacrifices that you are making on their behalf.  You don’t tell them how hard it really is and they don’t tell you.  Your conversations consist of things you will do and how great it will be.  It’s easier that way…but not really.  Things will never really be the same again. You dare not tell them…but it’s okay… because they probably already know.