Last summer, the Summer of Leaving, was a blur of fixing up the house, packing, and trying to finish the seemingly endless tasks big and small needed to move to Istanbul.

This summer, the summer of returning, is proceeding in a haze. It’s been nearly three weeks since we returned to the US from Turkey.

We returned to a home that had been nicely cleaned from top to bottom by our tenants. Yet, there were many little things that needed to be done. We needed to buy a new vacuum. So many light bulbs had to be replaced of all kinds and sizes. There was the DVD player that one tenant told us had broken but actually works. There was the spotty internet service that turned out to be caused by faulty wiring. That’s a bad thing about a 30+ year-old house: the wiring is old. The good thing about an old house is that there are many wires and cables going in and out of it, not all of which are used. This made it easy for me to run a new telecom line from the box outside to our internet modem inside. Our download speed more than tripled and we haven’t experienced any drops.

The internet was a big thing. Not just because we need it for email and social media and reading the news, but we finally joined the 21st century and bought a large LED TV, a Blu-Ray player, and an Apple TV. We can stream Netflix (whenever we get around to getting it) and can watch and listen to anything that’s on our Macs. Very American indeed.

Speaking of being American, on the Fourth of July, I mowed the lawn, grilled hot dogs on our charcoal grill, ate corn on the cob, and then we all watched the fireworks display put on by our township. It doesn’t get much more American than that.

There are many other things to which I am readjusting. I felt overwhelmed the first few times I went into a grocery store. Some of the grocery stores here like Jewel and Meijer are so enormous, they are 30 times the size of the average Turkish grocery store.

It was strange riding in a car in familiar surroundings but not being able to drive. My Michigan driver’s license had expired while I was in Turkey. It was strange renewing it at the DMV because there was no hassle or difficulty. I signed a form, they took my picture, and then they told me my new license would arrive in the mail in a few weeks. Yesterday it did. (No, you cannot see my mugshot picture.)

It’s quiet here. Far fewer people. It’s more green and lush. Less dusty than our Istanbul apartment near several construction sites.

At night, I can see the stars.

I already miss badem ezmesi, acibadem, borek, and so many other things. But it’s great to be able to bake again. The oven in our apartment was useless thanks to all the number indicators being worn off. So I had missed being able to bake. A week ago Meredith helped me make a batch of chocolate chip cookies. All of those cookies are now gone.

Right now, there’s a blueberry pie cooling on our kitchen counter. There’s a can of whipped cream in the refrigerator.



So I Ran That 5K

This past Sunday I ran that 5K I said I was going to run a few weeks ago; The Dinosaur Dash.

It’s the first 5K and the very first race I have run in. The skies were overcast and the temperature was around 40 degrees Fahrenheit. I warmed up by jogging around wearing track pants and a pullover. I took those off shortly before the race, feeling warm and loose.

The race also happened to fall on my birthday. So I was lucky to have a cheering section.

My two kids held up a banner saying “RUN DADDY!” They made it with a big assist from my wife. (Yes, my wife is that awesome.) I can’t think of a better site (or birthday present) than that when crossing the Finish Line on my first race.

It was a fun race through a beautiful campus. I felt good throughout and even had enough energy at the end to sprint to the finish.

Michigan State University’s campus is very pretty, especially in the Fall with all the leaves turning colors and the Red Cedar River meandering through. The course did a figure-eight, crossing over the river four times (if I counted correctly). I enjoyed the views during my run.

For the curious, my official time was 22:47.

I’m going to take the week off. Not because I feel tired, but because there’s a pain in my left ankle when I come down on it when going down stairs sometimes. It’s been bothering me on and off for the past week and a half. It’s not swollen. I think the tendons are fatigued or strained. It didn’t bother me during the race. It didn’t even bother me most of the day yesterday. I simply take it as a sign that this old body of mine doesn’t “snap back” the way it used to and needs a bit more rest than it used to need.