"What you want to eat?"
We were sitting in a restaurant-- presumably owned by one of his friends in the center of town. Nothing on the menu looked particularly appealing and I knew that I was paying for this on my own dime, not his.
How is this appropriate? We're both sweaty, dirty, and soaked from being out in the rain together and you know.... Plus he knows literally everybody in town. Half of these people were probably at his wedding, and they think it's totally normal for him to be sitting at dinner with some random American girl, and not at home with his wife?
After our escapades, I could hardly look him in the eye, not that I needed to since his eyes were glued to his phone watching the football game.
"Pfff my team no good!"
If he missed me that much, you'd think that he would pay a little more attention to me. But honestly, now that I am sitting here across from him, I can't help but wonder what I ever saw in this man. I cannot believe I spent half of the past year agonizing over this jackass.
"I don't understand how he lives his life. I really think his family lives in a dungeon if they don't know," I text my best friend, seven time zones and worlds away.
"Come to Turkey and save me from my weird life. His phone is ringing every five seconds. He's on the phone now. Okay he's off. Oh, it rang again. Does he even realize that I'm here?"
He said something about football and about his team, but I tuned out looking down at my phone trying to blank out his face and my entire surroundings.
Finally he finished eating. My meal is so unappetizing that I couldn't finish it. He asked what was wrong with it and brought his waiter friend over, but I couldn't be bothered to even try to explain. I'd hardly been able to eat so much as a bag of chips the previous days because of the anxiety he had been giving me, there was no way in hell that I would have been able to finish an entire plate of greasy, undercooked kebabs.
He hugged his friend, the owner of the restaurant goodbye and didn't pay for his own meal. I paid for mine.
So much for chivalry....
As we walked out of the restaurant, I looked at him and found myself appalled just thinking about the fact that I slept with this man multiple time. He gave me no choice but to get on the ATV and asked me where I was staying. I wouldn't tell him, but in spite he drove around town in circles stopping at every hotel as if it was a joke. I started to think that this whole thing IS a joke for him.
Get your girlfriend pregnant.
Get married half a year later.
Have a kid another three months later.
Three weeks after said child is born, start screwing another girl.
Make her fall for you, but don't tell her that you're married to the woman who literally just gave birth to your daughter.
I finally realized that this situation is nothing but trouble, and that it needs to be over. But Turkish men don't forget easily, and I know that I can't tell him where I'm staying or else he will come and find me to try and keep it going when I tell him this tomorrow. Fortunately I was saved by the bell... also known as his wife calling.
"I have to go home. I'll see you tomorrow".
"No, you won't," I thought.
But as always, this shit never ends.
After another three weeks of the back and forth “I hate you, don’t contact me again”, “Wait I’m sorry I love you” bullshit in addition to a rebound hookup with another Turk, I finally cracked.
“Where are you? Izmir? Istanbul? Antalya? I come to you”
“Fine. You can meet me in Izmir. But you’ll find your own place to stay and I will decide later if I want to stay with you”.
I was never sure what the best thing to do was. Did I need the closure of really getting the full story of his life from him in person, since he had avoided it last time? Did I need that “one last night” with him, before kicking him out of my life forever?
I didn’t know what was best, and honestly I was nervous, but I knew that once again, this was something that needed to be done.
Off I went to Izmir, with my flight to Athens the next day booked, giving me no chance of spending longer than 24 hours with him. For safety precautions in case I decided I genuinely did hate him and could not bear to be around him, I booked a hostel.
And so I waited for him. I waited just like I had been doing since we met; waited while he lied to his wife, waited for him to come and see me. But how long could I possibly wait for somebody?
When Americans picture romance we picture narrow alleyways with cobblestone streets, lined with small quaint cafes. We picture ourselves sipping the kind of coffee we can’t get at home, and staring into the eyes of a beautiful foreign lover.
June 16th, 2015: that night was a year ago today. After spending another whole month in the country I adored, but loved to hate, I sat there with my Turkish coffee in hand, wondering if this whole situation was a huge mistake or the most romantic, exciting thing I’d ever done.
I don’t even drink coffee. What am I doing? This isn’t me.
I would never fall in love with a man I can never have.
But I did it, and now I’m here.
Where the fuck is he?
I stare at my phone, waiting for him to alert me of where he is.
“Alex, where is this place? Nobody knows it”
I had sent him the exact location through google maps. He still doesn’t get it. How is he this dumb? How did I fall for him?
I look behind me in the alleyway, towards the sea. I look ahead, but he’s not there. I need to spot him before he sits down next to me to calm my nerves. And suddenly he bursts out the door through the restaurant, and appears right in front of me.
He kisses my cheek like we’re old friends and sits down.
I stare at him in utter shock.
I had never seen him outside of his own town. This man who hardly ever leaves his town, who has a wife and kid at home, just risked so much to come 10 hours away just to see me. In a messed up way, I find it romantic.
“You’re here. What the hell? You’re actually here”.
I playfully kick his legs under the table.
As we walked away from the cafe, my anger towards him subsided. Our fingers entwined, and I stopped him in the middle of the street for a long kiss.
God, I hate people who kiss in the middle of the streets like this. But somehow it feels so damn good. I never get anybody to do this with.
We spend the next hour and a half sitting by the marina, talking, laughing, and getting scammed by a gypsy woman who forced him to buy me flowers and then spent 15 minutes reading his palm.
We were both starving, but everything was so perfect in that moment that we couldn't get ourselves to get up. And suddenly I remembered why I fell in love with the idea of being with him. It was this exact feeling of being in the moment, and not caring about anything else in the world.
That night as we dined together in those romantic streets, I asked him about his life.
Why did you get married if you weren't ready?
Are you happy with your life?
What are your hopes and dreams?
Do you think anything will ever change?
Of course I didn't believe him when he told me that one day maybe he'd leave his wife and move to New York with me. Besides, I would never want something like that to happen. Just because I wanted him, didn't mean I would ever want a child, especially a girl to grow up without a father around. Him and I are such different people, in so many different ways that I knew it would never work. Yet, I found some kind of solace to hearing what he had to say. A man can lie about many things, but sometimes the look on his face tells nothing but the truth. And that truth was sadness.
Memories of that night, one year ago today are still vivid in my mind: the way we sat curled up next to each other waiting for the sun to set, the birth mark on your back that I noticed for the first time after you fell asleep late into the night, and the way I held onto you during the train ride to the airport, which I knew could be the last time I would ever see you again.
I will always hold onto those nights together in my mind as a beautiful time, but I knew I had to let go and continue on with my life without you. I thought that by leaving the country that I love so much and after one last night together, I would soon find the strength to do what I needed to do. But that night when I left you behind at passport control, tears streaming down my cheeks, I should have known better; this was still not the end.