This is another one I’ve been putting off writing for ages, knowing full well that is was next on the list, even putting up another unconnected restaurant review to stave it off a while longer.
Hüsrev was another place the slimy, crocodile student took me. It’s a traditional Black Sea place and even has pictures of Rize on the wall which is one of the nearest cities to my boyfriend’s hometown. The student wasn’t from the Black Sea so I suppose you could look at this as yet another of his little digs. I think, but could be wrong that he wasn’t doing what he was doing to try and win something from another man – that was just shrapnel caused by aiming at what he wanted – me.
But maybe that is naive and egotistical. This guy was older, fatter, no longer the basketball playing summer waiter stud with women falling all over him in Bodrum or wherever it was he had spent summers. He himself had been lucky to escape military service as there was a year when anyone with money could pay their way out to help the national relief program after a big earthquake. Some people say it was actually just a stunt to let Tarkhan (the singer and national treasure – despite being gay and a drug user – very unTurkish tradionally acceptable things) off doing his military service. The student had even been involved and engaged to an English girl he met one summer. So, perhaps he was jealous that my younger, fitter, football playing, woman pleasing tour guide had the English girl and really it was nothing to do with me.
Anyway, the day I was going to Crepe & Fondue (with a female friend) my boyfriend had been away a couple of months and it was the first day he had been able to take his one day off and leave the base since the weekend I had gone to visit during the Bayram.
I took the 10 hour bus trip to where he was doing his military service a few times during the year. It wasn’t possible every month as they were often kept on the base for army security reasons or as punishment. We could only meet for the daytime until about 4pm as only family could sign you out for the night. I’d stay overnight and we’d spend the whole day together and then I’d go back. Later they opened up an airport which made the trip much more bearable but it didn’t increase the amount of time we could spend together. For anyone in the town or at the hotel, I looked like a prostitute. There was one visit where someone even came and knocked on my door with some pretext about room service. The first time I went we were not even sure if we were going to find a hotel that would let unmarried couples stay together and were turned away from the only other one in town – that’s how conservative Turkey really is once you get out of the main cities and tourist places.
Anyway, so on this day, knowing he was off base I had been in front of my computer all day, waiting for him to go to the internet cafe and sign into messenger so we could talk. He had a webcam, I did not but we could hear each other and type. I had been supposed to go and meet a new private student – parents and a young boy. I needed the work and it was all arranged. I seem to recall that I’d been expecting my boyfriend to be online earlier but even without the shortened time, I found it impossible to hang up and leave the house, knowing he was there at the other end.
I did call him on the phone at the base, although I couldn’t always get through and the added element of the webcam and him being off-base was really emotional. In the end he had to be the one to hang up, I was a mess. I got as far as the corner shop and turned back, first buying a phone card so I could call his mobile – which he had illegally and at no small risk on the base. I made some nonsensical excuse for why I couldn’t make my meeting even though I was already way past late- never heard from that client again. And I think we spoke again and he must have been happy I was in such a state as anyone might be – it showed a depth of feelings I didn’t even know were there.
I pulled myself together, went heavy on the eye makeup and was all set to meet my friend to go to do the restaurant review. Then Snakeman showed up in my neighbourhood with a colleague who later became one of my students in the company and offered to give me a lift to the restaurant. I sat in the front and he was all holding my hand and I cringe now to think how for sale that must have made me look and how it was all done for the show in front of his friend. I wasn’t comfortable with it ( I hate people touching me as a rule – unless they’re my boyfriend, then there’s stacks of pent up affection to go around) but I went along with it and all a couple of hours later from that very emotional episode. I don’t know why I was able to switch between one and the other. I think in some way, it was precisely because I was so turned off by the guy that I felt immune but somehow too naive and stupid to keep away from someone so dangerous and sleazy.
It was this weakness which my boyfriend was worried about – was it really this that inspired the possessiveness though? No. But nevertheless he might well have sensed it only in as much as he believed all women had so little agency in their own lives.
Mine was going to get much more swept along in a current I was aware of but pretending I was surfing in my own direction.