...but hey, it hasn't even been a month yet, so I think I'm okay.
This year, Easter fell on my birthday (as it has a tendency to do every once in a while if you're an April baby)...and it was awesome. I mean, in addition to getting the Risen Christ I also got six pounds of cheese, so that's pretty neat.
And did I mention, my DAD CAME FOR A VISIT?
Tears. Tears all around. Like, I can't even try to explain that feeling of my dad grabbing me in a bear hug and hearing his voice and me trying to laugh but mostly just being a blubbery mess and a whole bunch of Albanians really concerned about the weird blonde chick having a meltdown at the baggage claim.
But let's rewind for a bit. Easter morning dawned dismal and rainy, and Meg and I set out for the orthodox church with umbrellas and shoes unfit for muddy gravel roads. I had checked the day before to figure out what time service would be - seeing as the myriad of answers from coworkers claimed there were services at 10 pm the night before, midnight, 2 am, 7 am, no 7:30 am?, definitely 9 am, maybe 10 am?
So I asked the old guy in the yard and he pointed out the sign that I'd missed that said 10.
But when we showed up, people were only milling around an empty church, lighting a candle or two and then kissing the photos of the saints. So...no service. But Megan and I bought our candles and had our moments, and then went to check out the old church behind the "new" (early 19th century) church.
This old building is the ancient one, but so dismally kept up that all the paint that remained on the walls was the blue of the altar. (And even that was probably an almost-modern improvement.)
Regardless of the broken windows and drafty brick walls, there's just something about an old, old, old place of worship that makes me pause for a moment to think of all the peoples it has seen - how many prayers it has heard - how many tumultuous changes it has stood silently by to observe.
Leaving the old church (which is in the same compound as the new church), we ran into two women I work with at the Red Cross, Luisa and Vjollca (VYOHL-tsa). Of course we had to take pictures with them and Vjollca's new red shoes...especially because they knew it was also my birthday.
After church, the two of us went to a local cafe for a birthday coffee and delicious banana chocolate cookies made by Megan. (#yumdeliciousomg) At this point, I was starting to freak out about getting to the airport...that is, until I got the email saying they were re-routed through Istanbul and would be six hours late.
Said delay would leave me tons of time to go to Moza's house for a "birthday surprise" which was a cake and coca cola. So sweet and unexpected! In addition to "happy birthday," "edhe 100" is the traditional Albanian birthday greeting - happy birthday, and a hundred more!
I went back to Moza's house later, because her husband Tani was driving me to and from the airport. On the way (which was already awkward enough, because we knew each other well enough that we couldn't just ignore each other like in a taxi, but we didn't know each other well enough for any real conversation), we listened to a CD that was in English...but definitely written and produced for non-English-speaking listeners, much to my amusement. At one point, this song came on and the effort not to laugh literally drove me to tears. Careful, that musical genius is SO not safe for work. Click at your own risk.
Needless to say, we eventually got to the airport and the dramatic scene described above happened and then we realized the luggage was lost and I wouldn't get my six pounds of cheese...yet. But I had my dad and all was well in the world.