“But what if I don’t recognise him?” I pondered, shifting slightly as another family laden with suitcases zoomed past me. “What if he walks straight past me and I look past him, and he’s annoyed and, and, and…”
The airport bustled and buzzed. Families meeting and greeting. Friends, lovers, sisters, brothers, parents, kissing, hugging, excited chatter. I stood to one side with a friend. His presence a little moral support, a little bit of luck (his in-laws were on the same flight as Turkish boy). Back at home, the spare bed was made (well, it doesn’t pay for anyone to be presumptuous), the fridge was full, and an itinerary was sketched out and ready for execution.
My friend tried to be reassuring. “It’ll be fine,” he said. “As long as he doesn’t look like that” pointing to a particularly tough looking guy, “or that”, gesturing to a short Turkish man with tattoos. “He might not be a typical Turkish man,” this non-typical Turkish man said. “I don’t think he’s going to have force you into a burka, well, not the first day anyway.”
“Look,” he said, “I’ll text you thumbs up or thumbs down once I’ve met him.”
Reassuring. What if it was a thumbs down? Then what?
And then, suddenly, Turkish boy was there. A little shorter, a little skinnier, a little different to my memories. An open face, a smile. A very orange t-shirt.
“Hello” I said.
And it was all a bit real. Here was a guy I didn’t really know, in my country, expecting… Expecting what, exactly?
Turkish pleasantries exchanged with my friend and we were on our way.
I’m not one to be lost for words. Generally, as anyone who knows me, or follows me on twitter can attest, you can’t shut me up. Sometimes I even speak sense. And yet here I was in the car, for 40 long minutes, chattering inanely, nervously. He looked a little bemused, but smiled, and made reassuring “mmms” and “uh huhs” every so often. A text message from my friend.
Later, sitting on my little balcony with a mezze of food in front of us, conversation dried.
“So…. tell me…” I said desperately.
He looked confused.
“Tell me…something.” I faltered.
The first awkward silence.
It was only later, once more wine and more raki had been drunk, that conversation started more organically. We argued over marriage and children. We discussed Egypt and Syria. We tested and teased each other. When he kissed me, it felt right.
The next four days passed quickly and with increasing levels of comfort.
I learnt that having lie ins until 11 o’clock isn’t a bad thing (I’m the kind of person who always thought that once I was awake that was it, no matter how heavy the night before. Apparently I was wrong. After a cup of tea and a read of my book at 8 in the morning, I was more than happy to crawl back into a warm bed and doze for another couple of hours.)
I learnt that you don’t always need to have a plan for everything (one day, all plans of moving went out the window and we just went to the lake and lay in the sun).
I learnt that sometimes language difficulties can lead to misunderstandings (his brother was diagnosed with lymphoma while he was over. I didn’t understand what he was telling me and so was less than sympathetic thinking his brother merely had a chest cold).
I learnt that having company is comforting (his tactile style came on slowly. It was the second day, on our way to Evian that I felt a soft hand on my back. I leaned into it. As we walked round the town, I found a hand in mine. Conversation was still a little stilted but general acceptance of each other was there.)
I learnt that I’m a bad influence (on the Friday night, we ended up going out for a meal and then randomly meeting up with friends and ending up in a dubious nightclub. I fed a lot of people shots. Including him, who doesn’t really drink. The only high point of this night was the fact I wasn’t the drunkest person there – and that we ate cheese on toast at 3 in the morning)
He left on a Sunday morning. He was rushing to get back. He was worrying about his brother. He smiled as he left. He kissed me briefly. And he was gone.
It’s now been over a week since he was here. People ask me how it went. My answer is normally always the same.
He was nice. He was too nice for me. It could have been the situation, it could have been nerves, it could have been politeness but he was just a bit too… passive for me. I need a little fight, I need a little push back. If I don’t have that, I’m liable to boss my way through the relationship (who would’ve guessed that!).
Will I see him again, I hope so. Will I travel specially to see him, I’m not sure.
Was I glad I took the chance, oh yes.