I met John on a hot May night in a dive bar in Washington, DC, where we got into an argument about the Middle East. I had studied in Jordan, then worked there the next year, cultivating inspiring friendships and collecting rosy memories. He had worked in Pakistan during that same year, cultivating food poisoning and collecting less rosy memories. But opposites attract, and soon we were eating mussels and bonding over jukebox picks.
I didn’t know what to think about him at first, but travel makes the heart grow fonder, (or at least shows you the ins and outs of someone really quickly), so when he said he had to go to Turkey the next day and asked if I wanted to join, I said yes. Crazy? A little. But I’ve always been spontaneous and there was something intriguing about his convictions.
The next week was one of the best of my life. We road tripped through Turkey, from Istanbul, to Ephesus, wandering through history, then down the Turqoise coast, stopping in beach towns along the way. Hours driving through mountains lent themselves to intelligent conversation fueled by debate. Though we argued, our similarities struck me, and I was charmed when there wasn’t a trace of ignorance in his retorts, and all the sincerity in the world in his sweetness. By the time we reached Ölüdeniz, I was hooked.
On a boat trip through blue-green water, I told myself to take a deep breath and calm my hopes and heart. I dove into the clear, cool sea, reminding myself that whirlwind romances and lavish vacations are the stuff of dreams and movies, not meant to last through summer. Yet, as we sailed through lush coves and took a hike through the butterfly valley, the early summer heat making my face flush, my damp hair sticking to my neck and the scent of sunblock and wildflowers permeating the air, it was clear I couldn’t control my emotions, rushing faster than the waterfall we climbed to see.
Turkey is a stunning place. One of oriental magic, intense purple sunsets, and relaxing bliss. I was in awe of the water’s intense crystal blue, in awe of butterflies flitting through the meadow, and in awe of this guy who succeeded in sweeping me off my feet in a matter of hours.
He told me he loved me on night three, only four days after we met. Could it have been the vacation talking? I hoped not. Now, one year later, long after the tan has faded, the serenity of that clear, clear water has left my dreams, and the splendor of the blue mosque shines only through photos, he’s still here, laughing about our whimsical start and keeping my Mid East obsession in check. A photo of Ölüdeniz hangs on our refrigerator in Rome, where we’re starting a life of adventure together. A life of love and beauty, a life of spontaneity and new experiences, and of course, a life of travel and taking chances, for where would we be without that?
About the Author: Her roots are in Wisconsin, but Rebecca Holland has backpacked through Asia and lived in the Middle East, and is currently working in Italy as a freelance journalist and travel writer. Visit her blog, CuriosityandaCarryOn, and join her on twitter at @globalmusings.