Everything’s New (One Year Ago Today)

Ahdem had started the day telling Andrea and I “You’ll never forget this in your life.”

I like to think I have a pretty good memory, and for the things I’m afraid I’ll forget, I’m known to document heavily – too heavily, in some opinions. And in all those stored up memories – good, bad, fun, crazy, trying – September 3, 2011 stands as the single most inspiring, invigorating day of my life.

Andrea and I woke up at 6a.m. in Capadoccia, Turkey. After quietly but quickly stepping outside – we wouldn’t want to wake our pregnant hostel owner (Andrea, their baby must be crawling now!!!), we’d run down to the main, dusty little strip, where Andrea more carefree and less afraid of being thrown in Capadoccia prison walked around the back of a restaurant and up the cement stairs to the roof. I did as well, slower, dodging the gaze of a cat and after staring too long at the window of what was likely the restaurant owner’s living quarters.

I remember us not talking a lot up there. A giddy quiet as we crept around the roof, both changing the settings on our cameras, color, B&W, panoramic, as the rising sun changed the sky just as quickly.

We should have known the next 24 hours were going to be amazing when we sat down for dessert at an outdoor cafe last night, opened our menus, and fireworks started bursting in the background. Only for two minutes, but they definitely happened.

We’d return to eat breakfast at our family-run hostel, frantically uploading photos to share, telling family at home to look at where we, two girls with itineraries requiring no parental approval, had found ourselves this morning.

At the urging of our pregnant hostel owner, we’d then embark on the family-led tour. No more than ten of us in the van, a Thai family, the two Turkish brothers leading the tour, Andrea and I. I laugh reading the old blogs – when we made our first stop at the underground caves, I described the man we met there for the special tour there as “creepy and loony as can be.”

One year removed, I can decode that as, “Andrea, remember that time the Thai family chose the easy way not the hard – fun – way out of the cave – so it was just the three of us going down narrow passageways and we had to play Marco Polo to not lose contact with each other and end up alone with crazy?”

Creepy and loony as can be.

I also would never have blogged that it was here in the underground cave that my automatic zoom lens would get clogged with dirt, leaving me nearly camera-less two weeks into my trip and thus giving me trouble through the next four months.

But we made it out of the cave and away from crazy, and my camera starting moving again, albeit twitchy and upset with me.

Our tour guide was Ahdem. Ahdem could scale rocks and mini-mountains without fear or precaution. And that day, I decided so could I, in sandals.

We learn a new phrase. One for new friends, for people you care about and care about you. I made him autograph my journal with it. Beni kalbimden vurden.

“You shoot me from the heart.”


It’s the quotes from Ahdem that stick with me the most today.

In the van, Andrea, Ahdem and I share the back bench and learn about each other. Ahdem: “It is… My life strategy. I ask you what music you like and your hobbies. And then, maybe I know you.” We dance to the music we share. We talk about how I like to write. He says maybe someday I’ll write a book that has covers with pages inside.

Ahdem says when he looks at Andrea, he can tell she is the crazy one. I’m appalled. “I’ve climbed MOUNTAINS with you today, and SHE is the crazy one?”

“Well, she looks crazy, fun. You, you are different. Your outside and inside are very different, I think. I think, when I see you, ‘She is serious. Boring maybe.’ But then, we talk, and inside, you are very fun, and that comes out. And when you climb, you are wild.”

“She comes to me, and says help me, I am a poor, boring American girl in need of stories. And I say lady, I have many people to entertain today, but I’ll do my best to help you. And then, she becomes a master climber and doesn’t need me anymore, and she will go make her millions with her book that has covers and pages with words. And it is fine, I don’t need my favorite climber, another will come along. I will go home tonight, drink one bottle of red wine, and be done with her.” Andrea does her best to egg this along. “I know, just look at the way she’s walking now, her nose in the air like that. Look at her.”

1000 words don’t sum up six blog posts and twenty four hours from one year ago.

But one year later, this day remains the best, most unexpected gem of a day in 23 years. Because 7,000 miles away from home I broke the rules and climbed to the roof of a restaurant, and then climbed a little mini-mountain in the middle of nowhere in sandals. Because in the middle of Capadoccia, Turkey, where a night at the hostel cost $7, Ahdem asked us why there would be an Apple on the cover of Andrea’s computer. Because it was the first sign that I had no idea what I’d be seeing over the next few months, and the unplanned would be more exciting than anything I could expect. Because it was a sign of the adventures that would come and the thought that I might be willing to take some risks to end up with stories.

So I shared that day again today because it’s on my mind.

And someday, I will in a book that has covers and pages with words.

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6 thoughts on “Everything’s New (One Year Ago Today)

  1. I absolutely love the photo where the perspective of the subject makes it seem as though she might not even have any idea that there are balloons behind her.

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