When you work as a touristic guide or transfer man, you see too many faces. You see oceans of these faces arriving at and departing from airport terminals. You never stop to spot a face or two. You never do. I should say almost. My story is about one face that struck me in a strange way. This face belonged to Melissa. She was one of 7 million tourists that came to enjoy Antalya. (To be exact, Alanya)
Where is Alanya?
Alanya is a city in Pamphylia, Turkey, situated on the south coast. Alanya weather tends to be sunny and warm, with few clouds in summer. I came here to work. To get the experience and get some lifetime memories into my 21-year-old collection. Antalya offered some of the most colourful memories I could get. I was in love with the Mediterranean Sea. Its shores were a place of revival for me. I would sit and think about things. You know these things. They visit everybody's mind and heart. They bring a certain level of loneliness. They bring tears and laughter into ones face. Oh, face! Melissa brought a new phase to my summer. It would only take 12 days of my life, but these 12 days would shatter my world to pieces if I would not forget the fact about summer crush. Fact is that this summer crush last only until autumn. Maybe it is not a fact. Who cares. Let's go to the part of the story when I met her for the first time.
We had a very loaded shift. All cars and buses were full of tourists that needed "timely check-ins". It was my last routine for the day. I was tired and not willing to go to Antalya airport for my pack of tourists. Ali bey, (person who drove me) was trying to practice some Russian language with me. He desperately needed some words and expressions to put a spell on female tourists. This was how it worked. Almost every Turkish or Caucasian man who came to work here was hoping to get laid. They thought that all they needed to know was a couple of foreign language expressions. They saw me as a patron saint who knew these expressions, and they thought that I was happy to give them support in this search for divine word combination that would unlock a woman’s heart.
That day, Ali bey did not get any words out of me. I was not only tired but also frustrated with the fact that somebody tried to use me as a walking dictionary. When we reached the designated terminal, I was glad to rush away from the man and his questions. We were late. Transit flights were never on time. So we thought that this flight would be no different from others. But it was. It was on time. I started to look around for my "group". As I was walking past strangers, I noticed a very colourful and positive group of people. They were listening to one young lady. She was waving her hands high and was smiling with all of her “32”-s out. I thought to myself. (What a nice group? I wish it were mine. I finally reached the gate doors and noticed an empty hall. One of the Odeon Tours Guys who knew me said that my group has just left the hall. He pointed at the group I was dreaming about. I chuckled happily at him and went towards them.
She was still talking and smiling. I noticed how green her eyes were. I noticed every single line in her face. By the time I approached them, I had scanned her well. However, I acted as if there was no scanning involved.
I greeted the group, and they greeted me back. They were happy about a safe flight, and now it was time to go to nice Alanya hotels to soak in some classy pools. Little they knew about the issue. The issue which many fraudulent tour agencies were hiding. They were not going to be taken to their booked hotel. Almost every customer suffered from such misguidance and mishandling. They started to argue with me. She was very active in the discussion. I could not get my eyes off her. The discussion was not the time to look at her with all intensity, but for me, there was no such thing as "ideal timing". Her mother joined the talk and refused to leave the airport unless I gave them a warranty for resolution. After 30 minutes of heated debate, both parties gave up. Antalya's heat was on our side. They agreed to part to Alanya. There was only one demand. Guess what? Her mother wanted me to come with them. (Partly as a warrant.) I was in no position to refuse the offer. In fact, I was happy to hear it. We hit the road which had Turan Prince Residence at its end. This hotel was newly built, and it was very comfortable. My biggest deal got me a family suit rest in it. I enjoyed every moment inside. I was sure that these people would love it.
While on the bus I sat next to her mother. She sat alone. But her ears were close enough to hear our conversation. Marie, the mother, had Russian origins and she came from Switzerland. They both lived there. Marie started to ask questions about my origin and my views on a number of things. I started to give replies. Replies that would give some idea about the personality which was escorting them in this journey.
By the time we reached Turan Prince Residence, we were friendly, and Marie offered me to stay with them that evening. I helped with their check-in process and waited in the lobby as they enjoyed the first moments of peace in their hotel rooms. Turan Prince had a very nice swimming pool. It was as silent as the sea, but at nights you could sit next to it and look up at the stars and meditate with your tired mind. The lobby was boring, so I immediately rushed to this pool. It was crowded with tourists who were getting ready for dinner. I found one empty table and sat there.
I could see them from a distance. She and her mother were both well dressed. Dressed for the red carpets, I would rather say. They had a big company of fellow tourists. Soon a reserved table was made ready for this big group to enjoy their food. Marie invited me to join their table. I hesitated for a moment. There was this very sneaky silent voice inside of me. (What are you getting into? Where is this all going? What will be the next?) As this voice gave me some hard time, I saw Marie and Melissa standing in front of me. Marie told me that it would be better for both us to enjoy this big and empty table together. To my astonishment, we were left alone with Melissa. She sat next to me and smiled the way she did when I saw her for the first time. I had to silence my inner voice with a silly question. I turned my face to this young lady and asked about the one of the best Alanya hotels. (Did you enjoy this place?) It was one of these pathetic questions you ask to fill in some time and to postpone your mental breakdown. Melissa could feel my intensity, and she did not hesitate to smooth me down.
“You are different from other Turkish boys.”
Melissa's reply was not the one I expected. Turkish boys? Of course, I am different. I am not from here. I live in Baku.
Melissa continued her soothing remarks.
"I noticed how gentle you were with my mom and how friendly you were during the whole thing. In Switzerland, I don't get to see such friendly young men. That is why you seem to be so different.”
My response would elevate this conversation to its next stage, which I call the beginning of a crushing period.
"You see Melissa. I noticed how green your eyes were, just like the waters of this place. They radiate calmness and joy. I would stare at them for a long time if it was appropriate."
This was a very direct remark and a direct invitation. I had no idea that I could be this bold. To this day, I wonder if I said it or it was the voice inside of me.
Her cheeks turned red a bit. She looked at the sky and closed her eyes. I liked her attitude about this conversation. Her big group was watching us two. They were the spectators of this little drama.
We talked for 1 hour straight. Then my telephone reminded me that I came to work in this place.
Melissa saw my reaction and offered to continue our dialogue next time. We both knew that we had only twelve days—eleven, to be exact.
I stood up and went to Marie to thank her for the opportunity to be with such a great group. She was enjoying her after wine condition when she hugged me and told me to come and visit them again. I looked at Melissa for one last time and left the place.
As I sat next to Ali on the way to our agency, I could see the number of questions he was ready to ask. He asked only one question.
“Is her mother single?”
I said “I do not know” with an irritated voice. We remained silent until he reached the agency.
Agency was crowded with guides and transfer people who discussed the upcoming projects and smoked heavily while doing so. I could not stand the smoke, and I left the room to enjoy the air outside the balcony. To be honest, I did not want the noise to interrupt my thoughts about her and our conversation at the table.
Green eyes. I remember sitting with my future fiancée and talking about our "ideal person". It was a weird talk, but we both shared the credentials of a person who we thought would be ideal for us.
I remember saying green eyes. I mentioned it with no hesitation. I thought that people with these eyes were special. Her ideal was a blonde guy with huge shoulders. I certainly lacked these elements. And her eyes were brown. Although we were into each other for more than 6 months, and we both wanted this relationship to develop into something more. Maybe in one of my next posts, I will share our mutual story, but now it is time to go back to Alanya.
This city was dominantly German and Dutch. Russian tourists would usually feel strange loneliness and immediately cancel their stays in this peaceful place. They would rather be in Kemer and Lara. These places were more dynamic. Alanya would be easily considered as a retired man’s paradise. It was a Palm’s Springs for Dutch people. These people were enjoying their rest and shopping sprees’. It was very hard to sell them anything. They would always find what they want on their own. Russian tourists would usually rely on guides, and they would buy many things. And I mean many things. Things that they do not need. But it was Antalya you could see people buying leather coats in 35-40 C’ degrees. And as they would famously claim this place was much cheaper than Moscow.
Alanya was an ideal place for retired people, but now it was of great interest to me. Turan Prince Residence became the number one spot which I planned to visit every day. I looked for the excuse and hoped for new tourist arrivals. It happened 3 days later when I brought new people to this hotel. My eyes were searching for Melissa and her mother. Well, the mother part was probably a lie. Soon I realized there was this thing which we know to be a telephone. I called their room. Marie picked up the phone, and she was glad to hear my voice. I rushed to explain the very fact that I am standing in the lobby, waiting to see Melissa. Marie could feel my excitement. They were getting ready for a dance party down at the disco.
Twenty minutes later, I saw them enter the lobby with night dresses on. Then looked astonishing. She looked beautiful. In fact, she was beautiful, even without this dress. Did I mention this smile of hers? Green eyes were shining because they were to dance and party.
I was not a party guy. But for the pure joy of being with them, I entered the disco. Loud music exterminated my chance to chat with Melissa. Soon they were waving their hands in the midst of the hall.
I was a passive spectator until some dude approached them and started showing off his breakdancing skills. Oh boy. You don't show off in front of another break-dancer. I was a break-dancer for a long time, and I sure knew how to bust a couple of moves.
The floor was ready to see the battle. Everybody moved aside. Marie and Melissa were shocked to see what they saw. That guy was annihilated. He was disappointed. I was not. Melissa was happy to approach and hug me for the victory. Guests of the Alanya hotels were clapping in awe. We left the place and went to the poolside. It was night, which meant that we had the full spectrum of stars to stare at.
We talked about her for 3 days and my 21 years. I was eager to hear her 19-year-old story. She started with her father part, and my ears were ready as never before. However, the bloody telephone rang again.
I hated that moment. She was close to me and were interested in sharing her story. The swimming pool had a mesmerizing reflection of a full moon. We were feeling a growing intensity and hunger for each other. But this call would postpone our dialogue for another two days.