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A Brief Encounter (Istanbul 2015)

STORY: A good friend once told me, “Never trust a married man. Just by being involved with you, lying is part of who he is.”

Sexual relations between men have been legal in Turkey since long before it became a nation and was a somewhat common but unspoken thing in the old Ottoman Empire. Today, Turkey is still very much a traditional culture, and most Turkish men are pressured to marry and have children—regardless of their sexuality. I, myself, am pretty much out, single, and live a somewhat open gay lifestyle. The result is that, for me, dating can be fraught with risk, as there are a lot of “straight” married men just looking to mess around.

A couple of years ago, on a chilly morning, I’d received a text on a gay social media site from a guy. He didn’t provide a clear face pic, but I was bored and horny. “Why not?” I thought and I drove over to his flat.

The door was half open and he was waiting for me. He was rather tall, skinny, and wearing loose-cut sweat pants and a faded-colored t-shirt.

“Hi, Al.” He said and smiled. He wasn’t really my type but I had begun the encounter with no expectations, so I was open to wherever this might lead.

Our date was intense and warm. We chatted and laughed together a good part of the afternoon and late into the night. I couldn’t believe how content I felt in his presence. He had a big sincere smile, spouted non-stop jokes, and cuddled with me effortlessly. I felt pampered, as he gently caressed my face. At one point, he said, “If we traveled abroad together, I doubt we’d ever make it out of our hotel room.”

Secure in his arms, I noticed several photo frames with various people in them on top of several nearby drawers. Clearly, the people in those pics were part of his life and got to enjoy his most intimate moments. But, given how comfortable I felt with him then, that alternate reality didn’t bother me.

I felt it was best not to ask for his last name. That way, he wouldn’t feel vulnerable and I’d be less likely to lose him. If I asked, it might make him uncomfortable and even lead to an argument between us.

At some point near the end of our affectionate encounter, he confessed the undesirable truth. He was married. I had already intuitively known. Hearing it said out loud didn’t bother me. After all, I could be his affair on the side, if he wanted me to.

We continued texting often after our date, but he would never agree to meet in person again. Having had a taste of what it was like to be treated so adoringly, the inability for me to see him again became unbearably painful.

Over time, I became obsessed. Some nights, I was awakened by the sound of my heart beating hard in my chest. Each time, my first thought was of his absence from my room. By day, I waited for his texts, hoping that each time, he might change his mind and want to see me again, I continued in my misery until one day he texted me that his wife had given to birth to their son and that his birthday coincided with mine. I was going insane.

Over time though, the messages became fewer and fewer until they stopped altogether. I had fond memories of our brief time together, but he had broken my heart, and now all that remained were scars.

Writing this, I feel a bit embarrassed what anyone reading it might think. I mean, it was only one date! I had no idea before it happened that one hook-up could transform my life and insert a feeling of desperation where there had been none. But nobody had ever treated me as gently and lovingly as he had, and then just never want to meet again.

I slowly began to realize that my despair was the result of the absence of any kind of real love and affection in my life. I promised myself to date only available men—no more married men—so that I might find lasting companionship, not just a brief encounter with someone else’s partner.

To take my mind off of what I had been through and relieve my burdened soul, I treated myself to a vacation in Mykonos, with a newfound optimism that perhaps there I would meet someone single, who is interested in dating, and might start my heart beating again.


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