I grew up in Portland, Oregon, a town that, before 1990, was not on the map. When I was an exchange student in Avignon, France, in 1986, for example, and people would ask me where I was from, I always had to explain that Oregon was next to California. Hearing this people generally told me that I was lucky to grow up near California.
I did not think I would be leaving my hometown permanently when I moved to San Francisco after college, but so it seems, as I haven't lived there since. (So far.) From S.F., I moved to New York, which well and truly became my home, and which I only left because I had to choose between the city and my husband-to-be, and well, I chose my husband-to-be. And so we moved to Washington, D.C., Brazil, and Turkey.
Even though I have an M.A. in American history and I do historical research for a living - and worked as a reporter and editor for nearly fifteen years in New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Brazil before that - I didn't set out to write a book about Turkey or our experience there when we landed in Ankara in 2008. I was in Ankara in order to spend more time with my children, who were only three and five when we moved, and to support my husband, and maybe to have an adventure.
I still love to travel as when I was nineteen and living in Avignon and out in the world for the first time. But now that desire is tempered by a different longing - to stare at the Pacific Ocean from the Oregon Coast, to ski down Western ski slopes, and to spend time with my scattered, extended family and friends.
This, in a sense, is where IT'S COLD HERE: A MEMOIR OF MODERN TURKEY begins, with something the American writer and sailor MacDonald Harris called our "two profound and conflicting impulses": People, he said, want to be safe and warm, snug, enclosed, at home. And they want to roam the wide world, to see what is out there - beyond the horizon. As an expat family we were trying to accomplish both simultaneously. As a story, I thought it was a good place to begin.