3 months old today, the love of my life…

Your feet bear the promise of freedom
as I rest my lips on them.
They carry so many stories of faraway journeys,
some of them that have passed,
others that will come to pass.
What roads will they roam?
And will they bring you back to me?
We have the same birthday,
my dear time traveler,
35 years apart.
Meet me again. And again.

baby feet

Related posts:

Send him to me. I want to be found.

“So, do you want to go this way?” he asks, pointing right, to a direction we have already taken so many times – a walk along busy alleys between blocks of flats, nothing spectacular or even remotely pleasant. “Or that way, to the nature park?” he decides to offer another option – a 15 minute walk to the nature park close by (a former waste ground, now a protected area in a concrete enclosed space that  was supposed to become a lake in communist times).

We’re finally out on our daily walk, having fed and changed the baby several times today already and successfully dressed him and placed him in the carrying system. It’s a windy day, colder than the previous one, cloudy and dark. Winter is coming, as everyone so famously and predictably says these days.

“That way…” I reply sighing and I cannot help thinking about my journey this time last year, a week on my own in Turkey – Istanbul, Konya and Cappadocia. Each day was an adventure I wrote extensively on my blog about. A single woman, travelling in Turkey on her birthday, right after a bike crash that left her face badly bruised and  scars on her left hand and right knee that are still visible today.

“Turkey looks so clean and cold, hard, shiny and dangerous like the freshly polished pipe of a loaded hunting weapon being held by the big, strong hands of a psychopath with the sharp mind of a genius. Its people are still wearing golden rags of former glory, busy making ends meet and shattering distances at any costs. No one is alone here. Ever. Pain is hidden under the hijab or crushed in clenched fists, stuffed with sugar, smoked, washed down with cay or coffee and, secretly, alcohol. See, nothing separates us. We are all the same. Fear is no more than a virus we get while navigating news channels, never while traveling the world. ” I used to write during my coach ride from Konya to Cappadocia – Settling karma and travelling to Goreme.

Or my last day in Konya before returning to Bucharest, when social media was down due to political trouble and tension in the street was leaking like blood from a fresh corpse dropped in the ocean, sending its scent to hungry sharks swimming miles away:

“I picked a bad time to be a writer in Turkey. I quickly evaluate my situation: I have just upset an influential hotel owner in Goreme who used to be a cop in Istanbul and brags about owning a gun and doing cocaine, informed me he has a copy of my passport and my fingerprints, along with perfectly valid DNA samples and threatened to stage a crime for me so that I won’t be able to leave Turkey; all with a smile on his face. (Did I decide to solve all my karmic issues by the end of this year, by the way? I wonder…) Let’s go on now, that was not everything: I am a single woman traveling alone in Konya, the most religious and traditionalist city of Turkey, where almost nobody speaks English. But let’s not get paranoid, shall we? I made an unfortunate choice of European clothes. Otherwise I look Turkish enough. Though I am not sure that is so good now, either… And can say ‘hello’, ‘goodbye, ‘thank you’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘honey’. That should do. So I hide my map in my pocket, put my leather purse in my backpack and head to Rumi. This is a holiday, after all.” (My last day in Konya and Turkey goes crazy again)

praying outside mosque in konya turkey

Today my whole universe is in this two room apartment and the surrounding area where I take daily walks. My small, domestic universe is populated by only two people – two very special boys that I love. Still, the scarcity of the population around here makes every disappointment a tragedy. If this time last year every day brought new people and new adventures to write about, now breastfeeding takes up most of my time and the most breathtaking adventures are adjusting the baby in the carrying system, clipping his nails while he’s sleeping, feeding him at night while fighting sleep, backache and frustration, bathing him and watching his beautiful face all the time.

The first two weeks were like a honeymoon. Never before had I been so happy. Well, a sort of a honeymoon… Since, well… How are we to survive these first few weeks of change and adjustment without sex? My midwives were amazed at the tonus of my perineum (no tearing despite the prolonged expulsion and a very good condition right after birth and in the following days). Well, ladies, to be perfectly honest, it’s sex. Sex has contributed greatly to its good shape. It’s true Kegel exercises have been part of my life for years now. Best done, you guessed it, mostly during sex. It’s already been a week since I feel I cannot wait any longer. It’s too long…

Anger one day was soon followed by sadness the next day. No reason. Well, except for the huge changes and the domestic confinement that’s totally new and hard to bear for someone who’s saved only for plane tickets for the past two years.

“Yes, but we’re going to travel again”, says my life partner, travel companion and the father of my baby.

“Yes, eventually…”, I reply feeling more confident than it sounds.

“And breastfeeding is also temporary, it’s going to end too…” he adds more hesitantly.

“Of course it will… In about two years or so…”, I answer trying unsuccessfully to make it sound light and funny. Don’t get me wrong, I do love it and would not give it up, it’s just that it seems to take up so much time and on such long term…

“We’re here for you”, he continues, holding my shoulders and planting warm kisses on my face. “And look how cute he is, really”, he adds pointing his head at the baby, still naked and all wet from the bath, wrapped up in towels and cuddled in my arms, sucking on my right nipple.

And he’s right. But that only seems to add to the sadness at this point. Caressing his soft thigh, I’m thinking he was inside me, he grew from such a small cell, my body fed him, my flesh made his. And here he is now, so grown in my arms. And he’ll continue to grow and will gradually become independent and start his own life, away from us. And he’ll outlive us. And I love him so much. And yet I still don’t really know him very well. He’s so wonderful, so luminous, so perfect. How will I ever be able to let go?

“Over 85% of women go through some form of postpartum emotional imbalance”, my notes from the Lamaze course remind me. I’m lucky I have this rational part that’s always awake and alert (well, it did make labor longer, but in general it tends to keep me safe).  I do a quick self evaluation and decide it’s not depression, but a mild case of baby blues. All normal. Just relax, I tell myself and the lump in my throat gets heavier. I go through my essential oil basket and find something that should help and then I also find a homeopathic remedy that seems to fit the symptoms. I’m pulling myself out.

Still, before going to bed I browse through my T-shirt stash and find the one I got in Thailand, at the Royal Chapel of the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok. A very ugly white T-shirt with a colorful print of the royal palace. Last year in February. I am standing in line to visit the chapel, surrounded by a loud crowd of Chinese tourists pointing their cameras everywhere and stretching out their selfie sticks to take one more photo of their faces projected over the whole world cut to pieces.

One of the security guards, wearing military clothes and waving his gun left and right, comes to me barking some order in Thai. Since I don’t understand a word, he uses firm gestures and a wave of his gun to get me out of the line. I am wearing a sleeveless shirt and my huge blue shawl wrapped around my shoulders doesn’t fool the guard’s vigilance. It’s over 40 degrees Celsius. This is how I end up with the ugly T-shirt from the gift shop in the palace garden. It’s the only choice. I pay for it, turn my back to the crowd, facing a dirty wall behind the counter, take off my sleeveless shirt and put on the ugly new Thailand T-shirt. I find it disturbing that it doesn’t match my trousers at all, but end up wearing it inside one of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited. I leave my sandals by the door, in the big pile of shoes resting there, covered in sweat and dust, and wonder if I’m going to still find them there when I get out, but decide it’s worth walking barefoot the rest of the journey to Cambodia if necessary.

royal chapel of the emerald buddha bangkok thailand

The feeling is overwhelming and once I get in front of the emerald statue covered in golden raiment, my knees bend of their own accord and my eyes close. I don’t know how long I spend kneeling on the cold marble floor, surrounded by the loud crowd, before stepping outside into the heat of the sun again. So tonight I’m going to bed wearing this ugly white T-shirt which the emerald Buddha saw me wearing that day in Bangkok. So yes, I do miss being on the road.

PS The title of this post is from a ‘dialogue’ I had with Shams at his tomb in Konya – The day I leave Konya Shams does some magic.

PPS At the end of my post about my home birth – 35th birthday journey of initiation: the story of my home birth – you can find a list of links to all my posts about my last year’s birthday journey in Turkey.

35th birthday journey of initiation: the story of my home birth

“Cristi, please get me a towel.” I whisper, petting his shoulder.

It’s about 1.30 am and I’ve just come to bed after a busy day, finishing most of the tasks I’ve set for myself on my long, pre-birth to do list.

“Err… a towel, yes… a towel…”, he answers, falling back asleep.

“Will, you please get me a towel?” I insist, still managing to keep my voice low.

“Ihim…”, he answers falling back asleep once more.

“If you don’t get up to get me a towel NOW, we’ll soon both be in a big puddle”,  I explain.

“Yes… Where from?” he asks eventually getting up and standing beside the bed.

“From the towel drawer”, I answer realizing he’s still half sleeping. “The second one from the top.”

“Here you are”, he says as he hands me two towels, still folded.

I take them and shove them under me, carefully lifting my hips from the warm puddle I’ve made under me. I can still feel the soft, warm liquid streaming out, warming up my thighs and my lower back. So… this is how it feels, I say to myself. I’ve always wondered what it feels like and was a bit worried it might happen while I’m on the street or riding the metro. And I was secretly hoping it might be just a small stream only I would be aware of, that could pass by unnoticed util I get home.

“Are you ok?” he asks, still sleepy.

“I think so”, I reply and notice the excitement in my voice as I giggle.

“Come closer to me, so that you don’t sleep on the wet spot”, he says and I know he still hasn’t realized what’s happened.

“I don’t think I can sleep now… I mean… I don’t remember how long it lasts now before the contractions start, but I don’t think it’s so long and I doubt I can sleep…” I explain avoiding to break it to him that my water’s just broken.

It’s only then that the reality of the situation dawns on him and he suddenly feels so unprepared. I can feel he’s awake and alert now, going over what he still hasn’t found the time to do: reread the Lamaze course support, install a contraction timer app, put batteries in that flash light and I don’t even want to know what else…

Contractions start shortly and they’re still bearable, so I can afford to laugh in between them, remembering his initial reaction and confusion at the news. I soon find it annoying when he turns on the light and starts doing research on his phone. But his big eyes looking at me in awe have a calming effect and I advise him to relax and just be there for me, supportive and affectionate – that’s all I need.

I feel we’ve had all year to prepare and here we are, caught it seems a bit off guard. I was really hoping the baby might wait another week or at least a couple of days more, despite all the signs I had announcing birth, just to give me time to feel more prepared. And was also thinking it might be kind of cool to give birth on my birthday. I was actually thinking this might be the trip I’d take this year: a real journey of initiation – birth.

I get into the warm bath and water has such a calming effect. I ask him to sit by me and just stop thinking about what to do. When I get out, contractions become stronger and I decide it’s time to call for help. We do that and help is on its way, in a different team than initially planned, but we would learn that only later.

My initial thought as labor begins, that it would be short and intense, gradually proves to be half right – it’s long and intense. And as it progresses, many worries and thoughts come and pay brief visits – everything that’s ever bothered me in our relationship, a tendency to rationalize everything, as well as feelings and thoughts I pick up from my helpers. There’s a lack of cohesion in the team and we don’t seem to be on the same page. We do have the same purpose – the safe delivery of my baby, but we seem to have different visions as to how this can come about. Yet I will only become aware of this later, when I look at the experience in hindsight, trying to put things together and make sense of everything that’s happened.

There’s just the fear of pain briefly visiting me as expulsion begins, otherwise anxiety and fear are just passers by in the room, invited by some of my helpers. I try to close the door on them and focus on what I have to do, but I was educated to be a good host, to welcome guests and attend to their well being, so turning my back on them proves to be a bit of a challenge.

“We are one, I am one with it”, I’m thinking and feeling as each contraction takes over my body, leaving me more and more exhausted and teaching me about releasing control. Despite the excruciating pain and occasional feelings of helplessness, I have never felt stronger in my life. It’s true what they say: you do get such a wonderful feeling of empowerment, a feeling that if you can do this there’s nothing in the world that you cannot do. You can do anything.

Nevertheless, as I’m going through contraction after contraction, I am also visited by the thought that you must be crazy to ever what to go through this again. “Three kids?! Jesus Christ! If we adopt the other two, maybe…” I remember saying to myself, sitting on my knees on the bedroom floor, feeling cold and warm at the same time, sweat running all over me as if I’ve just showered, getting ready to survive through one more contraction.

“But you wouldn’t do it again”, my mother tells me in her most self assured voice when I call her on her birthday, just four days later, and she decides to start a conversation about her own fears. What is it that makes dropping their fear bundle over you so irresistible to people? I wonder… Can’t they just mind (or heart) their own fears themselves?

“Yes, I would, actually”, I quickly reply, surprised by my own determination.

“Really?!” she says. “And you wouldn’t change anything?” she insists.

“Well, yes, I think I would. I would still give birth at home, but I would change a bit the organisation, the plan, and alter the team membership, I think.

“Of course. You wouldn’t want Cristi there again”, she replies as if throwing a poisoned arrow at me. Poisoned by her own bitter life experience.

“What do you mean, mom? Of course I would want him there. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I feel that having this experience together has brought us much closer that anything else could have. It has changed each of us profoundly and has taken our relationship to a whole new level. I know your opinion on men being present at birth, but it’s YOUR opinion, not mine”, I explain and I know I have shocked her again, forcing her to look at life from a perspective totally outside her experience.

Now, a week later, everything is changed. Every day brings changes and is so different that anything I’ve ever lived before. I’ve never been so in love. Nor have I been so amazed before. And although I’ve spent almost the whole year carrying this baby inside me, witnessing all the changes and every day of his growth, I still find it miraculous that I can now hold him in my arms. All we did was love each other – me and his father. And we got this amazing gift that’s beyond anything we could have ever hoped for.


I love it that he takes so much after his father and looks like a little dwarf and he smiles so much. I am reflecting on impermanence and the changing nature of things and I am contemplating the fact that he’ll never be this young again and he’ll never be inside my womb again and he’ll continue to grow and all this attachment, after all the build up, will have to gradually diminish and it already feels difficult.

I’m also reflecting back on the whole birth experience and, trying to understand why expulsion was so long and difficult for me, I remember I was pushing and was not actually visualizing pushing the baby out. It was as if there was a barrier I was setting up, a stop sign. I could easily and relatively quickly get to the pushing stage, but not through the pushing stage. How can I push out someone I never want to be away from? On the other hand, how can I open myself so much? How can I become so vulnerable? How can I give in so much? How can I put myself so much in the hands of my caretakers?

So, right at the end, as the baby’s head starts coming out, everybody in the birth team comes together in a mutual effort to safely deliver this baby right here and now. And I feel no one is thinking about going to the hospital anymore and we are beyond the question of using or not using the birth pool or of what other homeopathic remedy to take, beyond the choice of mantras, essential oils or energy work techniques. Everyone is contributing to the miracle of bringing this new person into this world and there’s such strong support from above. Here and now. And this time is so precious, when everything else just vanishes and we’re all here and now, united in the same effort. When I finally hold my baby and feel his warm, wet skin against mine, after about 14 hours of labor and a sleepless night, I know it was all worth it and all the pain and the exhaustion quickly vanish, replaced by pure bliss.

Now we float above the world in this hot air balloon, the three of us, as if on an early morning on a journey in Cappadocia – the land of beautiful horses. This is how my baby’s heart sounded throughout labor – like the hooves of a beautiful young horse running up a hill, over a fresh green pasture on a wet morning. What else could make me happier on my birthday?

Here are the posts about my birthday trip last year:


One more time with feeling. A journey through Brighton and my own heart

I must confess I wasn’t actually looking forward to watching the documentary about Nick Cave’s latest album. I hadn’t even listened to the album, to be perfectly honest. I knew it was much about the pain of losing his fifteen year old son last year. I knew he’d fallen off a cliff in Brighton. Didn’t know it was LSD. In November, right after I’d been in Brighton after my birthday.

Got on the train from London and I’m feeling so excited taking in the damp landscape as the train is cutting through fields and small towns in a more quiet and rural England. I can’t wait to get to the sea. A Romanian couple are talking loudly a few seats away and I’m feeling so self-sufficient in my quiet bubble, reading, writing and taking pictures.

In Brighton a friend is waiting for me. I met him in Bucharest in a pub one night a few years ago. We had a friend in common and later found out we were born in the same area – the Jiu Valley, Hunedoara, each from his small mining town. I met him once there, on a winter holiday. We went up on some hills together and licked a sweet, clear liquid off some naked tree branches.

He meets me at the Brighton station and then takes me on a walk along narrow streets lined with pubs and shops and I get my green leather bound diary from an antique book shop and my Rumi poetry book from this big fancy book shop. I can still remember the moment I found it and my fingertips touching it for the first time. Such great desire for this book. A lover seeking a lover. A few months later my friend writes telling me he’s found a nice, old, copy of Rumi’s and wants me to have it. I tell him I’ll wait for it till we meet again, so he can give it to me in person.

We make confessions and have a pleasant time as he’s taking me to the sea. Even before I step on the pebble beach and feel her smell, like a woman’s smell when she hasn’t showered for a day, my eyes are flooded and I look away for fear I might look stupid. But the sight of the sea does that to me every time. I suppose I should live next to her for a while to find my cure. Or just let her make me cry like this every time. As if I were meeting an old lover I could never fall out of love with.

“I have a surprise for you”, he tells me and walks me to  what I recognize to be the Royal Pavilion, where a friend of his from the gay community lets us in before the huge crowd queuing at the entrance. You know, everybody knows everybody in the gay community. (Or rather everybody has known everybody. At least once.) Therefore, it’s like a big family, people help each other. So we have this wonderful, quiet and private tour and I am impressed and grateful. Her majesty feels she’s getting what she deserves.

visiting the royal pavilion in brighton

“Do you know Nick Cave lives here?” I ask my friend, but I can’t remember his answer a year later. I’m thinking about Nick Cave as we’re having lunch in this Thai restaurant and then a beer in a queer pub and can’t help admiring the view. I wonder if I could actually recognize him if I saw him in the street. I’m thinking probably not.

Having left my friend in Brighton, after one more pint in a pub on the corner opposite the station, I am smiling alone in my blue seat on the last train back to London. “I love you”, I text my gay friend, but the text won’t go through and I’m left looking at the reflection of the luminous phone screen in the black wagon window. My body would like to lie down in the arms of someone loving and just let go. Still, I must be alert and awake and make my way back to my kindergarten friend’s house in London.

As I’m walking on my own to the cinema in Bucharest tonight,  I pass by this loud tipsy couple speaking English. She’s way younger than him and Romanian, while he seems to be an American. Both are tall and lean and their movements seem a little bit disorganized and careless, zigzagging across the sidewalk and dodging various obstacles.

“Yeah, you know, because nobody’s perfect. Not even me”, she says and speeds up a few steps in front of him.

“Really? You’re not perfect?” he asks sounding genuinely surprised.

And I smile and walk on, checking out the Christmas lights on their first night. I was supposed to meet someone tonight and it got postponed. A long awaited encounter. So my stomach is still not very tense and I still don’t feel like I have anything to lose. It’s just a projection at this point. I’m a silent passenger walking among these people, under these lights, along these streets, in this cold. Nobody’s partner. Perhaps somebody’s dream. Still not met. I am anonymous. I can very well disappear. Only I feel so balanced and confident. There’s nothing that can shake me right now, as I am walking to the cinema.

“Most of us don’t wanna change, really. I mean why should we? What we do want is sort of modifications of the original model. We keep being ourselves, just hopefully better versions of ourselves. But what happens when an event occurs that is so catastrophic that we just change? We change from the known person to the unknown person. So that when you look at yourself in the mirror you recognize the person that you were, but the person inside the skin is a different person.” Kick Cave begins in his serious voice, perhaps a bit coarser and fainter than I used to know it. He’s sitting at the piano and the camera is moving around him and the strong contrast, black and white image infused with high pitched violin sounds quickly hypnotizes me and I lose track of who I was when I came to this place.

“Ah, Brighton! I was there. Right there. Brighton peer. Last year in November, after my birthday.” I lean and whisper in my friend’s ear and she looks surprised when she turns smiling to me.

brighton peer at night

And that sensation of being torn and shred to pieces comes back. Or the memory of it, rather. You know, when you feel you’ve freed yourself to the point of becoming nothing more than a piece of rag being blown by the wind and drifting aimlessly, unable to grab hold of anything stable.

“Somebody’s gotta sing the pain.” Nick says and I finally get it. Somebody’s gotta be here to represent the pain, the darkness, the hardship. Someone’s gotta validate these experiences and honor this part of life so that the darker side can have a voice and therefore can make room for us to perceive the lighter side, too and make the difference between the two. In a world of duality, light cannot exist without darkness. Nor can pleasure without pain. Or happiness without unhappiness. So we need these special representatives that offer creative media for the dark side to come to the surface and feel justice is being done. The same way we need representatives for the bright side. And ways to express both. I just think the darker positions sometimes are harder to fill in. At the same time, I also feel there’s a great danger it might actually be quite on the contrary.

“I shall never love again.” my friend in Istanbul confesses to me after his girlfriend left him. Again.

“Yes, you will, habibi. This is what you told me the day I first met you. And that was when I knew I would love you. You will love again. And it will be wonderful.” I tell him without any shadow of a doubt. “Do you wanna know how I know that? It’s because I have been there. Broken to pieces. Trembling and suffocating, crying and shouting with pain and crawling like a worm. And I will never stop loving. No matter what happens to me. My heart will always stay open. Always. Because it’s wonderful.”

“We decided we would be happy as a form of protest. We decided to be happy and our happiness would be an act of revenge, of defiance. And we would be kind. To ourselves and to the other people.” Nick Cave explains towards the end of his documentary.

And I remember that so did I. So why am I so afraid then? I need to keep reminding myself of the simple things, things I’ve been certain about and that fear makes me forget. My stomach seems to insist on coming down with gastritis. Simply because it finds it so romantic. I am not afraid of travelling alone to remote and hostile places. What if I run? I’m so good at running! I can just disappear. Before things get out of hand. Before I lose myself, before I become too vulnerable. Having nothing leaves nothing to lose. And all the possible freedom. I don’t actually need anyone, do I? No one to complete me. I am whole. Shams confirmed. Yet, I remember my decision. And I’ve decided to be happy. And to be kind. To the others and to myself. Not as a form of protest. But as a way of living. Inshallah.

A birthday to remember

a nine year old draws a birthday portrait of his teacher
“This is you. I am sorry I cannot draw better, you are so much more beautiful, actually.” A birthday portrait by Ștefan (9 years old).

I am getting ready to go to the airport as I am posting this and I feel so grateful. And so different than in any previous year. Well, not only am I bruised, I also have a cold. But I do hope my arrogance stayed back on the sidewalk where I fell off my bike the day before yesterday and I can now travel light and strong and happy and full of love. Though, come to think of it, I remember my reply to God as I was trying to pull myself together: “I don’t know what You’re trying to tell me. I’m still going.” Probably halfway through my life journey, it is surely a birthday I will never forget.

“Konya? Why are you going to Konya?” my good Syrian friend in Istanbul asks me when I tell him about my birthday trip this year.
“Erm… Well… Because I like… I want… Because I am crazy.” I finally reply, realizing the long explanation would just confuse him.
“I have no doubt that you are crazy”, he answers and we both start laughing. “Or maybe you are not”, he adds, suddenly lost in thought. “Maybe we are. And you are just living your dream.”

I tossed and turned and searched and changed my mind a few times, but then my decision slowly conquered all doubt. It took a scary earthquake to help me finally decide. As the house was shaking and my fear was skyrocketing, I said: “Ok, God, I’m going, I’m going.” Once the decision made, I could see myself there and became so happy I could not sleep properly for two or three nights.

“My mom says she would not travel to Turkey even if they paid her to do it!”, one of the wisest kids in my class tells me as we’re celebrating my birthday. And I just laugh and I can understand her, but see absolutely no danger for me to go there. In the most strict and religious city in Turkey. Couch surfing. Alone.

Last year my birthday trip was to London, meeting friends and enjoying a beautiful autumn week there, getting all spoiled. Although initially I wanted to go to Istanbul, my UK friends convinced me to give up the plan and not spend my birthday alone, among strangers. (Though, really, I am convinced no one, anywhere, is a stranger.) This year the decision was harder to make. I was dreaming about Portugal, but that didn’t work out. Then Malta, but it was totally insignificant to me. Then I realized I really wanted Konya.

“Konya?” my Turkish date asks, “Really, who goes to Konya?! I mean if you’re a foreigner, you never think of going to Konya!”
“Well, I am going.”
“Rumi and Shams.”

The day before yesterday I fell from my bike flat on my face. So now I look like an abused woman. Yesterday I went to the pharmacy, the pet shop and to the supermarket and noticed how everyone was so much kinder than usual. The pity in their eyes was a constant reminder of my bruises.

Although I can only walk slowly because of the bruised knee and my right eye is black and my face badly bruised on the right side, I am laughing on the phone as I am telling my mom what happened, so her initial fright quickly turns into amusement. “And you know”, I tell her, “when the passport control people and everyone else is going to ask me what happened, I’m going to give them the same reply that all abused women always give: I FELL!”

Happy birthday to me!