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Turning 65

February 28, 2024. I am turning 65. I will make this birthday significant.


When I was about to turn 60 I thought: I will do something significant. For me, who had never been abroad, significant meant taking a trip beyond the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe I will take a trip to the Greek islands, I thought. I thought: I will go on this adventure with a girlfriend. I thought: Maybe there will be some random romance during this trip. Or at the very least, I thought: This trip will feel like a romantic thing to do. I thought this trip would be epic. I thought it would happen in February.


I thought I would take a trip to Montana with my friend Larry Mac and my son Michael. I thought we would drive to Montana and then south to the Grand Canyon. I had seen glacier mountains once, when I was age 17, and got off a bus in Montana to stretch, while traveling from Boston to Tacoma, Washington to go to University. I had always wanted to go back to see them again. Their splendor blew my mind. They were unforgettable. Larry Mac had traveled from Montana to parts south of Montana many times. We both agreed he would be an excellent tour guide. My son Michael thought the trip was a great idea and was game to join. I thought it would be an epic trip. I thought it would happen in May.


Neither of these trips happened. I did not take a trip anywhere. I did not celebrate in any significant way. I did not experience romance or splendor. Turning 60, for the most part, was uneventful.


I believe that for the most part, year 60 felt like I was waiting for something to happen. I can imagine now that moving into my 60's opened the door to feeling disappointed and lonely. I know that loneliness has been a large part of the past couple of years. I imagine it may have started then, in my 60th year, and, for so many reasons, snowballed.


Now, it is easy for me to feel lonely. I can tap into feeling lonely right now if I want to.


It is especially easy for me to feel sad and lonely right now because I have been waiting for Oxana to return. And she did, Monday. Oxana returned exhausted, stressed, and with a cold. She barely smiled. She would not let me hug her. She talked with her mom, rifled through her luggage, turned around and walked back out the door... to get to a trade show that she had to be at. Come to find out, she will be at the trade show until March 1. Then she flies back to Istanbul. I will not see her before I leave Turkey on March 4.


I did not want to feel lonely or sad, but, I did. So today, sadness and I sat at the Jiraf and had a cappuccino. I looked at the view and thought: I am sad, in paradise. It helps to name what one is feeling and sit with it. The cappuccino was a nice touch.



Then I walked to my dentist and had stitches removed from my mouth. You may recall that I had two holes drilled into my jaw for implants. Yeah. There is that.


On the way home, I walked by a park and saw a cat feeding center...



There are little things that help loosen the lonelies.


When I got home, and checked in with the open-broken-hearted, 84-year-old, Russian-speaking Tatiana, she said (in Russian, into my phone's Google translate),"Tomorrow is your birthday." I did not know she knew or cared about my birthday. She asked: "How old will you be?" I said: "65." She kept saying "55." Then we talked about leap year.


She spoke Russian into my phone's Google translate. I read: "On this day I give you Forest Lake and a whole new daisy." I looked at her and she was crying, like, blubbering. I started blubbering too. We hugged and blubbered. Then she asked: "How old will you be tomorrow?" I wrote: "55."


Tatiana and Jemila (Tatiana's live-in caretaker) told me (via Russian and Turkish and Google translate) that we were going to a cafe tomorrow at 17:00 (5 pm). They said we were all going, Oxana too. I felt so happy.


Jemila told me she had made borscht for me. I tried some. It was easy on the gums and extraordinarily delicious. I ate the rest of what was in the pot and asked for the recipe.


I had made a plan to meet Mujdat at his camper van. We had talked about taking the bike to the open-air market. I gargled with my pharmaceutical-grade after-meals mouth wash and walked to Mujdat's camper van.


I was so happy about Oxana, and my heart was so tender from blubbering with Tatiana, my visit to Mujdat turned into a booty call.


Later, across the street, waiting for him while he used the loo, I texted Oxana. "Will you be able to join the exercise class and swim tomorrow?" That is when she told me she could not. That is when she told me that the exhibition would end March 1.


I felt a moment of joy.


Prior to that thread, I had been planning a trip with Svitlana, to explore Çıralı. Svitlana had said she might be able to drive me there on Friday, March 1. She had said she would not be able to stay overnight but would hang out for a bit. I had figured I would stay and find my way back to Antalya on Sunday, March 3. I would need to find my way back to Oxana's by Sunday March 3 because I have a plane ticket to Stuttgart, Germany for Monday March 4. Time to march forth.


When I read Oxana's words (that the exhibition would end March 1) I thought, We will wait for Oxana. Oxana, Svitlana, and I can go to the Adrasan-Olympos area together, for one overnight. Svitlana will want to do that. I had a moment of elation. I was a kite on a high wind.


It was a moment. Thought threads and emotions can happen in a split second. They can happen during the time between ending one sentence and starting the next.


The next sentence Oxana wrote was that she would be going directly to Istanbul after the trade show ended. The kite crashed in a heap on the ground without a sound or a movement.


I wrote: "Damn. I miss you. I will miss you." That is when Oxana wrote back, "Me too."


That is when I got very sad. That is when Mujdat walked out of the loo, walked my way, and looked at me. I told him what was happening. He understood. That is why I keep going back to him. We rode on the bike and I felt sad love.


This year, turning 65, no matter what the circumstances, I will do something different than continue to snowball this sense of sadness and loneliness. Even if it is sad love, I will focus on the love. This year, turning 65, I want to tap in to what is deeper inside me, and fill myself up.


This year, I am closing my eyes and imagining that I am in a far-off, exotic place. I am feeling my feet on the earth, smelling new smells and hearing new sounds. I am imagining that I am on an adventure. I am feeling both terrified and excited. I am having ups and downs. I am navigating the sea of constant change and stretching. I am imagining my lungs opening to larger breaths and my heart opening to compassion and tenderness. I am feeling loving and loved. I am imagining sitting inside unconditional love. Just imagining this, I am feeling immense gratitude. I am imagining my soul at peace. Just imaging this, I feel myself resting in that spacious peace.


This year, I am opening my eyes to see that I am in Antalya, Turkey. I am looking at this home I have been welcomed into, and this family that I am part of.


I am opening my bedroom curtain to the sun rising on a mountain range.


I plan to wake up and join my exercise group on the beach of the Mediterranean Sea, stand in a circle with them, stretching, working hard, listening to them talking in Turkish, and laugh. Maybe I will cry too.


In this picture, I am standing with Gol Unek, who started the exercise group on this same spot on the beach in Antalya, 27 years ago. She said that it sometimes got so crowded, there were 70+ participants!

I plan to swim in the salt water sea and once again feel my skin tingling beneath my clothes as I walk home. Maybe I will stop for a cappuccino.


In honor of turning 65, today, I booked a "full package" at the Hammam next to Migros, for noon tomorrow. A full package means I will sit in a sauna until I am stupid hot, be surprised by a bucket of cool water being dumped over me, and get scrubbed back-to-front in elastic bubbles by a woman who I do not know. Then, I will receive a full one-hour massage. Receiving a massage is one of my favorite things to do while being in a body.


I plan to walk home, where Svitlana will pick me up on the way to picking up Efe from school, on the way to waterfalls that Svit picked out as our destination spot.


I no longer believe there is a family dinner at 17:00 (5 pm). Svitlana knew nothing about it, she said that Oxana can not leave the exhibition, and Tatiana (though she often says she wants to go out) has not left the apartment for years.


No matter what happens or does not happen, I will take time to myself.


During my alone time, I will think about how I have been away from Brattleboro, Vermont for six months. I will allow myself to feel the longing for all who I miss and all that is part of what I call home. I will feel into how much I miss those who have left the planet. I may cry. I probably will cry. I will let myself cry. Maybe I will invite Michelle and Jessica to walk with me to the sea and spread some more of their ashes. Maybe I will bring them with me, with my Antalya family, to the Falls.


I will allow myself to remember how this trip began... because I wanted to meet my new daughter-in-law's family in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. I will remember the moments there, with my son, daughter, and her family and friends. I will feel in my heart what a treasure every one of those moments was. I will feel the moments, the cats, the people, the love I have for my son and daughter, alive in me.


Kira (in Uzbekistan)

Kira's family

Michael playing with one of Kira's friend's son (above) while Kira, two of her friends, and I spread Michelle and Jessica's ashes on Uzbekistan land.


Cats and children...


Michael and Kira...


I will remember my warm, generous and open-hearted new friends including a cat named Pena who live in Malta.


I will remember each beautiful friend and experience I have had in airplanes, on a boat, on a horse, in a hot air balloon, in a bungalow, on a mountain, on a bike, in water, and hiking.


I will remember the magic of being in caves and on top of mountains, and of squatting as I walked through underground cities and walked erect through huge ancient cities. I will remember the different colored rocks, and so many pebbles with "good luck" lines running through them. I will remember the magic of the sun rising and setting on clouds as aircrafts traveled through and above all of it. I will remember how the clouds and the mountains brought me to tears.


I will remember clouds at sunset on the beach...



And other cool things on the beach...



... and in the sea...



I will remember the smells and tastes and sights and sounds of Turkey, the music I have heard, the dancing I have been part of, the people I have smiled, cried, and connected with, the cats and dogs I petted and shared sweetness with, the wolf I saw cross my path.


I will remember walking to the sea in the dark as Oxana greeted the sky, the people, the dogs, the sea... and then swimming in the Mediterranean as she greeted the rising sun. I will remember driving back to Adrasan to get my stuff, with Oxana and Svitlana, into the mountains, breathing the cleanest, freshest, lightest air I can remember breathing into my lungs. I will remember Adrasan most fondly.


I will contemplate the vulnerability, courage, and acceptance I have opened to. I will tap into the immeasurable vastness of love that is in my heart. I will feel into how sure I am that this amount of love exists in me, because I will remember how I have given and received so much.


I will tap into the salt water ocean of compassion in my heart and the underlying peace of my soul. I will remember that this underlying peace has always been there, and that it is available to me right now.


I will join my online meditation group in the evening and look into each square that holds each person occupying it. I will remember those who have occupied other squares in the past. I will feel the depth of love I have for each of my Meditation Family members. I will feel this love expanding, extending toward their dogs and cats, friends and family members, ancestors and descendants. I will feel love and gratitude for the Energetic Field that connects us and for all that is held within it. I will feel so much.


At the end of the day, as I lay down to sleep, I will say to myself: Today has been full of significant moments. I am full. Turning 65 has been good.


This is my plan.

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Thank you for your Love. You are Loved. Namaste!

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I love you, James. Namaste 💞

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I am crying…I am laughing .. for u.. for me.. for life…. Happy birthday Ami Ji….

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Yeah... this is all so relatable, right, Nimi? 💕❤️

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Here I am, sending you some love on both my own behalf and Linda's, for you to wrap yourself in on your 65th birthday. I hope others will do the same! When you get home, if you like, we'll have a belated 65th birthday party for you. Our house, if you like, or some other place of your choosing. It's your birthday after all. You have earned the right to be happy! We look forward to seeing you again soon! We all miss your presence among us, but are VERY grateful to you for sharing your epic adventure with us. 💛💚❤️

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I love you, Pete and Linda 💞

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