After dropping off all of our luggage at the storage place at the airport and delivering the car to our friend who was going to drive it back to Sea Town, it was time for us to get in a taxi and head to our local friends’ home for the rest of our time. The woman had been my language teacher and my first real friend in the country. In fact, I have just a very few people who I can share anything at any time to. No, I won’t tell you if you’re on my very short list. However, I will tell you that this friend is on my list. Since her name would be hard for you to pronounce and since we are quite fond of nicknames here on the mabBlab, I’ll call her Annie.

Annie is a nut. She’s fun. She’s crazy. She isn’t very proper. She speaks her mind. In other words, she’s my Central Asian lost twin sister. I remember one day in our lessons that she tried to correct my pronunciation of a word. It resulted in us repeating this word over and over. Soon, it became hilarious and we shouted back and forth for about 15 minutes, each one trying to be louder. The word: Panties. For 15 minutes we shouted “panties”, “panties“, “PANTIES“, “PANTIES!” (Great…. there went my last hope of getting a decent blog rating. Goodbye G or PG!) What’s not to love about a friend with whom you can yell about underwear?

A year after we met, she got married to a great Iranian guy. They’re both believers and they had a church wedding. This is incredibly unusual in Turkey. She had never been to a Christian wedding. Most people either become believers after they’re married or they have a hard time finding a believer to marry. She asked a Westerner she trusted what the wedding should look like. Unfortunately, this person told her all of the American customs instead of guiding her to choose her own. So, there was a flower girl and the church was decorated the way that we are used to. Everything looked like it was off of A Wedding Story or some other TLC reality show.

She also knew from watching movies that there should be a bridesmaid, but she didn’t know what they did. She asked me to be her bridesmaid. I was incredibly honored. “So, what will you do as my bridesmaid?” she asked. I said that I wasn’t going to tell her what I should do — she should tell me. “Well,” she replied, “I think you should wear a pretty dress, you should bring me food to eat before the service, and you should do anything I need that day.” That sounded great to me.

She picked the flashiest dress out of my closet and instructed me to wear flashy makeup. On her wedding day I showed up with water and a bag of these great bread things stuffed with cheese. Then, she told me that someone needed to shut the doors after everyone came in. So, I manned the doors. And then closed them. And sat on the back row. Not your typical bridesmaid duties, but I was thrilled. Partly because I was letting her decide what to do instead of telling her to conform to American culture and partly because the day was 100% about them and none about me. The back row was the best place to be.

Afterwards, we all went home and rested. Then, that night we showed up for the reception. We danced and partied and had a great time. The hub and I were actually the last two foreigners to leave. I remember feeling very much at home there, dancing and having a great time. Sadly, the next week we moved from the Big City to Sea Town and I barely got to see Annie after that.

She has a son now, who we’ll call Sam. She and her husband Henry still live in the Big City, but she no longer teaches crazy Americans how to speak Central Asianish. She just chases Sam around all day. We were so glad we could spend some time with her, Henry, Sam, and their crazy cat Melus. I could have spent a month with them gladly — except for the fact that their house only has a squatty potty.

Yes, that’s money pinned on the bride and the groom. That’s what they get for wedding gifts. We pinned Central Asian currency on them. Everyone else pinned on American cash. Strange.