My contractions were regular and intense. I had already been in labor for nearly a day, and the partner-assisted drug free childbirth plan was starting to look a little shaky as I became more and more exhausted. With each wave that came, The Captain took my hand and started a story "remember the time...". Between stories I slumped into an exhausted and overblown heap, only to be gripped with another contraction accompanied by a story arc that carried me over the pain.
I don't know how he kept it up, hour after hour, but he managed to recount the many adventures we had already had, up to that moment of welcoming our second child, Sprout, into the world.
If you look up "home-body" in the dictionary, you will likely see my picture. My favorite thing about holidays is unpacking the suitcases into the hotel dressers, and putting all our toothbrushes into a cup next to the sink. I grew up with a serious Boxcar Children fascination, and love nesting. The Captain, on the other hand, craves adventure. In fact, when he proposed to me, he made me a promise (or was it a threat to my personality?) "I don't know exactly what our future will hold, but I know it will be a great adventure."
This summer we were on our way back to the U.S. after several weeks in Europe. Routing our tickets through Istanbul saved us thousands of dollars, but on our return we had a nine hour layover, and arrived at Istanbul at 4 a.m. While the kids and I wanted nothing more than to find a place to curl up and sleep, The Captain had different plans.
He arranged ahead of time for a driver to meet us at the airport, to take us around the city. At 4 a.m. it was dark, and cold, and we didn't want to see the city, but we climbed into the minibus where Sprout and Finch instantly crashed, but Small Sun gazed out the window, taking it all in.
Our driver dropped us, and our sleep walking children, off at a plaza outside the Blue Mosque just as the sun came up. At about 6 a.m., the plaza was deserted except for packs of large, roaming dogs that followed us. I was really terrified of them, and imagined them attacking us and eating us for breakfast.
We descended marble steps into the underground bathrooms, outside the Blue Mosque. Good thing my kids know how to use squatty potties. Good times.
Hungry and grumpy, we wandered around, followed by dogs, desperate to find some breakfast. Finally we were ushered into the lobby of a fancy hotel, where we ascended to a rooftop terrace restaurant. With great relief, we heaped our plates, and felt our strength return. If I'm honest, the best thing was a clean, private toilet where I could deal with my travel tummy. What memories.
After breakfast we headed towards the Hagia Sophia, up a beautiful alley flanked with amazing architecture and shady courtyards.
Unfortunately, the Hagia Sophia was closed to visitors that day, so we only saw the outside and the grounds, but they were stunning. We did get to go inside the Blue Mosque, which was truly amazing.
I would have spent nine hours trying to sleep sideways in an airport chair, and eating in the food court. Where I see an inconvenience, The Captain sees an opportunity. Where I see a challenge, and withdraw in fear, The Captain gets to thinking, and working up a plan.
We started this adventure as the two of us, honeymooning in Turkey, and then leading very responsible and ordered lives, peppered with trips and moments worth remembering. Now, with kids in tow, that tradition continues. The Captain works hard, our life is very structured, but when the chance comes to do something out of the box, The Captain takes it, and drags me along for the ride. In the end, I am always thankful he does, because I've seen and experienced so much that I never would have without his determination.
When life gets tough, and when the waves come, we have the stories. "Remember when..." carries us to so many amazing places. I can only imagine, at the end of the journey, when we are wrinkled and diminished, and lying in bed, the stories we'll be able to tell each other.