So, where were we? Oh yes, Saturday night was fairly uneventful - ignoring Carly's most ridiculous thing I've ever been a part of that I want to remember forever but also forget at the same time. But I'm gonna be damn sure I NEVER let her forget it. I digress...
The next day we woke up with plans to go to Istanbul Modern and this was really a highlight of the trip. The museum was smaller than London's Tate Modern but had a very similar feel: white walls, a fairly industrial building next to a body of water, lots of artwork that I couldn't try to understand if my life depended on it. The best part was the galleries focused on Turkish art becuase I am fairly unknowledgable in this subject. The Istanbul Modern visit gave my best day ever exciting but also intelligent start.
Obviously lunchtime, the group split up and I headed off with my favorite Sewannee couple to attempt to find a lost debit card. Unfortunately, the search was not fruitful but the lunch that proceded it absolutely was. We nommed on Gazpacho, pesto pasta and an amazing white wine while overlooking the Bosphorus. Relishing my position as the third wheel, I just sat back and soaked up the 70 degree weather and pure sunshine as we talked about life. (Yes, actually "life". Epic.) Lunch was followed by a lounge at the local Hukah bar and more conversations about the world. Now, I'm not sure if it was the vitamin D I was soaking in, the delicious food settling in my stomach, or the ambiance of the Hukah bar but I then and there decided this was, by far, one of the best days of my life. I couldn't wipe the smile off my face and when we finally departed from paradise by the Bosphoros and piled into a cab, I could feel the day just getting better and better.
Returning to the hotel around 4 for a short nap, I was awoken by one of my favorite people in the world. Kate decided to make a short trip to Istanbul on her way home to the center of Turkey and I couldn't be more excited to see her. She bounded in the room in typical Kate fashion and we immediately began catching up. We covered our usual topics, found a few new ones and laughed a lot. I was in Heaven.
Time for dinner and we trekked out of the hotel in search of a yummy and perfect last night dinner. Kate and I passed a familiar door and remembered that it is the amazing rooftop bar/restaurant that our tour guide showed us on our last visit. It must be fate. Man, this day just couldn't get better.
We took the lift to the fifth floor and found the gorgeously decorated and amazing smelling restaurant with a view that would have knocked my socks off (had I been wearing them). The roof showed the whole scene of the Bosphorus, the bridge connecting Asian and European Istanbul, and the sunset which was (of course) setting in pinks and oranges just as we chose to take pictures. Like I said, on a roll. I really can't express that enough.
We grabbed some drinks at the bar, the waiters ushered us to a table and I've still got this Cheshire grin on my face. I'm at the head of the table, so I see the people who have really shaped my experience whilst I've been in London this year. (Yes, there are a few more faces that I wish I had seen but then I think I would have internally combusted from joy.) Each of these folks has been to integral to my Lisa-in-London and I'm so grateful for their role in my life and my role in theirs. We laughed, ate, drank, teased each other, took in the unbelievable view and just enjoyed the moment together. The wine was great and the food was even better. I had mushroom, cheese and zucchini pasta in a creamy dill sauce. (You don't even know it yet, but that was totally more foreshadowing what is to come...back.... up.....)
After dinner, we found a bar to continue the laughter and telling about stupid Youtube stories (love ya, Lillz). Turkish men Hukah-ing all around us and us silly Americans right up in the middle of it, singing Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw, loving life. And with one cab ride and a goodnight from everyone, the best perfect day was over.
If this was a movie, the music would get a lot faster and more high pitched right now... and then end with DUN DUN DUNNNNN.
Monday morning was a brutal wake up. I thought I may have had one glass of wine to many, but oh no I should only be so lucky. Kate and I stayed in bed til the maid kicked us out right before checkout time and we said goodbye. The worst day ever began with a goodbye, obviously. Kate is leaving Turkey in just a few weeks and I know it will be at least four months until I see her again. In classic Kate fashion, she handled our hug goodbye graceful with me bawling on her shoulder. I'm a crier, what can I say? So my stomach still felt like rocks and now I've just left a best friend. What next?!
As we rode to the airport, I thought I was going to throw-up and then someone did throw up. Thank GOD for sturdy Ziploc bags. I kept my cool until we got through the airport doors and up to a seat and table for my head to rest on. Bad day goes to worst very quickly... Sparing you some gruesome details, I returned from being sick in the bathroom to finally tell the girls that I am actually not okay. Before I could finish the sentence, Carly looks up and says "Whoa you look bad" and I knew we had a problem. Kate then helped me back into the bathroom where I sat on the floor and awaited death.
Okay, just kidding I just wanted to lighten the mood a bit. So I can't move or talk and I feel like that kid in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids who just really needed to eat a banana. A nice Turkish lady takes interest and I hear the words ambulance and doctor and Kate respond "ENGLISH PLEASE!" I ask Kate, in my usual dramatic form, "please don't let me die here" and while I'm partially unresponsive I remember thinking, "God I can only imagine how dirty this floor is." (That's the Gloria Jean in me for sure).
Suddenly, I'm confronted with George Clooney! A really tan George Clooney..okay, so his name was Dr Nail but he was hot. He asked me if I was on drugs, if I was always this pale (at the time, I thought this was hilarious) and -to make sure I kept looking at him- if he was very handsome. So handsome doctor gets me to this little cart thing, Carly jumps in, Charlotte (our awesome professor) jumps in, I asked her if I needed a seatbelt... and then we drove inside ten feet to the airport hospital. Effective.
Once in the hospital, the story gets much less exciting so I'll hurry up with this rambling mess. Dr Nail brings me 'his special cocktail', a yellow IV which helps me feel better almost immediately. Charlotte had texted about the whole ordeal to our department head at Richmond and she sort of chuckles as she recieves a text back from him. She had explained everything and said I was in the hospital and he responded with a quintessentially British: "Wow! What an unfortunate experience." We all laughed..
Thirty minutes later he alerts me that I am still not able to fly, Charlotte books us a new flight and a hotel for the night in her amazing-ness. The rest of the group needs to leave for the flight and I make Carly stay with me overnight. Sip of soup is had, a sip of water is not repelled and we head off to the new hotel for a good night's sleep since our flight is at8am the next day. The day has been a nightmare but at least it is over. Right?
Circa 10pm, Carly wakes me up with a message from Kate that... drumroll... our flat's been robbed. Long story short, the police had been called because our front window was busted through and they had found the place torn apart. Kate was at London Heathrow when she got the call so it took two hours of her travelling back on the Tube (and us laying in the dark praying aloud in Turkey). They stole my new MacBook, Carl's iPad and some MacBook chargers. The worst part was the damage though, while nothing was severely broken besides the window, they completely trashed the place. All alone, Kate had to clean up and set everything right. Couches and beds flipped, tables and drawers all over the floor and even roses torn apart. These dudes obviously have some serious anger problems. We're convinced that it is because they were so mad that all they found was one laptop... but who knows.
The final kick to the gut (and humorous relief) was that just as we moved in, I bought and installed a "BEWARE OF DOG" red sign to 'trick burglars' into thinking we had this massive beast dog and not to come near the flat. As I pulled back the shade to see the shattered window, what do I see but that stinkin' Beware of Dog sign. The shattered window was gone but that sign was still taped to the bottom of the glass. Irony at its finest.
It was not until Carly and I flew home, hugged Kate, saw our rooms and cleaned up did anything feel actually real. The whole 24 hours had been a complete and total surreal experience that I pray I never have to endure again.
In closing (YAHOO, you think), I must say that as horrific as the worst day of my life was.. I know it happened for a reason. I've been having some anxiety issues lately and I told Kate (actually on the morning of the worst day ever) that I knew something bad was coming. Life had been all "too easy" lately and I could sense a storm-a-brewin'. Hell if I wasn't spot on, like literally..to the day! The whole debacle is something I wished had never happened but I know God was giving me a challenge to show me how great everything else in my life is. I was ripped from worrying about my job-in-question/apartment-in-question/location-in-question far away five months from now to living in the here and now. My perspective completely changed and, again, while it was truly the day from Hell, I am so blessed that I have my friends near (and far!) to help me through the trials that life throws at me.
Major respect for making it this far (hi momma) and reading about the best and the worst.. As dramatic as I write the whole event, in the end I am safe and my friends are safe. We are still recovering but we've decided if we could handle this nightmare experience, we can handle anything! Plus, if we can't do it at least our parents are (or will be soon) visiting so Momma and Daddy can take care of everything!! Ha, kidding....Sort of.
Cheers y'all, Lis