That was my response to Elaine’s feeble attempt to put her anxiety in front of her adventuresome spirit.
“Joe, even the base commander says we’re not safe.”
“He’s got a lot on his plate right now. Do you think he wants to be worrying about some retirees coming in and out of his base at all hours of the day and night?”
“I’m not going.”
“Fine, I’ve never forced you to do any of this. I just want you to remember a few facts first.”
“Don’t start with the statistics again.”
“Turkey is one of the top 10 tourist destinations in the world. They had 40 million foreign visitors last year.”
“Okay, but how many were Americans?
“A million of them were Americans. Do you know how many Americans were kidnapped in Turkey last year?”
“One is too many.”
“Well, with all this stuff going on in Syria… ”
“I know, but were not going to be anywhere near there. How about if we do this? Instead of starting in South-West Turkey and moving our way up the coast to Istanbul, we start in Athens and work our way up the Greek coast to Istanbul. That way we don’t come within a thousand miles of Syria.”
Elaine thought for while and then replied with a smile, “I love souvlakis!”
A few nights ago we were sitting in a small café in Rota, Spain, overlooking the Med. As we were eating our dinner I’d brought up the idea of catching a flight to Sicily, instead of Greece.
I said, “Wouldn’t it be nice to go visit all those Sicilian friends we made last year?”
“Nope, we made a deal, remember? No repeats.”
Elaine had had enough wine to put a damper on her anxiety – about a glass and a half is all it takes.
I asked, “You mean you’d rather go to Turkey than Sicily?”
“I’ll go wherever you want to go, this is your trip.”
I sat in silence for a few minutes contemplating this disconnect. Then a realization came to me.
“You know what, Miss Scardy-Pants?”
“You’re a freaking closet adventurer.”
“I am not.”
“Yes, you are. You’re afraid to step out your front door but you crave adventure.”
“You’d rather go to Turkey than Sicily?”
“I’d rather stay home.”
“You know most people would think joining the military to be a bit adventuresome.”
“It’s not like I did anything, I was just a doctor in a clinic.”
“Ahhh, you had to learn how to handle a gun didn’t you? You had to move to a new place every few years and you ran an inpatient psych-ward. You even worked for Special Forces. You could of deployed with them at anytime.”
“Well, I didn’t, did I… and I had to take a tranquilizer for that gun training.”
“Exactly! You’re a closet adventurer. You let yourself think you’re in some safe, reputable, conservative profession, when in reality you surround yourself with adventuresome circumstances. You’d be too afraid to face them directly so you just wait on that street corner minding your own business. Sooner or later that bus is going to come by and pick you up and whisk you off to who knows where. But you know what?”
“You had to step onto that bus.”
“Joe, I’d much rather be home right now, snuggled up on the couch watching Netflix. I’m only doing this for you. I want you to be happy and I know you’re miserable if you’re not traveling.”
“You’re smart, beautiful, successful and financially independent. Back when we first met, you had your pick of eligible men and you picked me. You knew from day one who I was, what I’d done for a living, how much I liked to push my boundaries, how much I traveled off the beaten path. Why was I the one you choose?”
Elaine smiled, “Well, certainly not for your good looks.”
“My point is made. You married me because you knew I’d pull you into my world.”
We are now relaxing in Souda Bay, a military post on the island of Crete. Soon we’ll be taking an overnight ferry to Athens, Greece, the birthplace of democracy (and modern diplomacy)… and then we’ll be off to places unknown.