Tales from the Road - Lycia, Day 6 (Saturday)
Most of Saturday is sleep. I rise late, leave my hotel, meander past the marina on a quest for coffee. Then my heart skips a beat: above the trees that separate the road from the marina, the wind ruffles an Austrian flag off the stern of a gulet. His is the only boat in the marina that does not fly the Turkish flag. He's back! The urge to run straight there is nearly irresistable; I know somehow that if I can just stand there, facing him, look him in the eye, everything will be fine. But from somewhere in my pathetic, groveling soul, I manage to dig up a shred of self-esteem...and I walk on by. There have been no phone calls, no hey, I'm here, come by..., and so I will not go. I will not go.
I don't go too far, though. Plopping down on a bench in a nearby shady park, I begin to write furiously, hoping to review and process all that's happened on this trip. Maybe half an hour goes by. A child's cry causes me to look up, and by sheer, stupid happenstance, at that moment I see Hasan, M.'s nephew (who also works on the boat) walking directly past me. He does not see me, but I feel obliged to greet him. The customary how are you's and how's it goings, then a Why aren't you at the boat with M.? and a muttered Well if he wants to, he can call me...
Hassan leaves, and I suppose must tell M. that he's met me, for fifteen minutes later my phone rings -- it's M., and he sounds genuinely glad that I'm there in Fethiye. Don't go anywhere, he says, I'm coming...wait. And so I wait. And wait. And wait. An hour goes by. I get tired of the flies that bite and the splintery bench that scratches my legs, and decide to move to a nearby restaurant to sit and drink beer, and write...and wait. Finally, close to two hours later, I see him. And it's just like the beginning all over again...the sight of him, the silly flip-flop of my heart, the jello feeling in the knees that makes me glad I'm sitting down, the stupid, instant forgiveness for everything that against my better judgment I seem to keep giving....
Spotting me, he walks straight up and enfolds me in a bear hug that seems to last for hours. I'm sorry, he breathes into my hair. And with those words, the last of my peevishness dissolves, and I am simply happy that he's there, sitting next to me.
We talk for a long, long time. Mostly about what's happened to him since I saw him, all the craziness that constitutes his job, especially so with this week's events, and the state of his health (not good). After I left, he had orders from the agency to dock at Kaş and disembark; a new captain was being sent, and he was being relieved of his duties. However, the night before, the passengers caught him packing his bags, and when they got wind of what was happening, were irate. They phoned the agency, declaring If he goes, so do we. And so the agency was left with no choice but to have him stay. In the end, the passengers were all happy with the trip, so what could the company really say? He continues to be employed...a fact that I am delighted by, but still, I cannot help but remind him, he SHOULD have told me.
We walk together a long way down the wharf. It is pleasant, walking together, and easy to forget the reason that I came here six days ago -- to separate from him. It feels so good and so easy in his presence, in spite of the fact that all my logic cells are buzzing irately that this is an impractical, impossible, untenable relationship, based on pure, chemical, pheremonal infatuation, and destined to end badly.
We stop to enjoy a laugh over some domesticated pelicans that squat on the wharf before a restaurant whose benevolent manager keeps them sedated with fish. Then we sit down to a magnificent supper, and probably some of the best fish I've ever had. There is a gypsy woman with roses; he buys the whole bunch for me. This is NOT the time to say look, you and I, we just aren't going to work..., nor do I have the inclination to...the closest I get is to say, hey, if you want to break up, just say so. DO you want to break up? (Equal parts hoping and fearing that he'll say yes.) He looks at me long and steadily, with that bottomless stillness I have always loved, big brown eyes looking deep into my own. He lights a cigarette and smokes it in that way I love to watch; in through the mouth, out through the nostrils in two graceful tendrils, gazing steadily at me all the while. There is an eternity, an abyss of silence. My hands are shaking, I can't bear it. And finally, just when I am about to speak again...Let's drop this 'breakup' topic, all right? This is an inaccurate translation...in Turkish, the meaning was more 'let's put an end to this topic,' a delightfully, maddeningly enigmatic way to say 'let's not break up,' but not in so many words, exactly. An expression more of a desire not to break up than to stay together...tell me, someone, why, oh why, do I so enjoy difficult people?? :-(
We return to the hotel, sated, happy. There is wonderful reconnection, and I realize again that I have been thrown off the track of my initial intentions; namely, to simplify my life. But for the moment, I really don't care.