So. You’ve landed on another “About Us” page. Either you’re totally lost, very bored, or perhaps (just maybe?) you actually mean to be here and want to hear the story? Very well. If you’re lost and would rather be somewhere (anywhere!) else, click here. If you’re very bored and searching for a quick fix before clicking off to greener pastures, then here’s the synopsis:
- American boy living in San Francisco meets Turkish girl living in Kazakhstan online in Feb 2008.
- They like each other, but the distances are too great, so they settle for the occasional correspondence.
- Turkish girl moves to Abu Dhabi later in 2008 (she’s a civil engineer – always hopping from country to country).
- Boy still in SF.
- Turkish girl is leaving Abu Dhabi at the end of 2009. Hints that her new position with a Turkish/American joint venture will bring her to the SF Bay Area on a monthly basis.
- Boy is hit with realization that he will marry this girl. Happiness.
- Deal falls through. Girl accepts different job. In Qatar. Sadness.
- Boy and girl manage to fall in love during this time.
- Boy impulsively decides to quit job, sell belongings and move to Qatar.
- Girl proposes via email (boy has never met girl in person.)
- Boy accepts.
- Boy hops on a plane to Qatar.
- 3 1/2 years and 5 countries later they buy a house in CT and begin crafting, woodworking, gardening, DiYing.
Oh, you’re still here? Okay, should I carry on with a longer and more detailed version of the story? There’s much more to tell, you know. Perhaps I should rewind a bit.
In February of 2008, I was 35 and working in a wine bar in San Francisco. My previous position as a stock trader was terminated unceremoniously in the summer of 2006 and marked the end of a ten-year slog through the swamps of mediocrity. The wine industry suited me well. I learned about wine. I served wine. And I drank wine. Lots and lots of wine. There is no better teacher than experience, after all. It was during this time that I met Handan online through a Facebook app called Are You Interested, a
meat market quasi-dating app that matched would-be lovers through a complex proprietary algorithm involving profile pictures and “Interested”/”Not Interested” buttons.
While I was slinging glasses of Grenache and bloviating about the benefits of biodynamic Barolo, Handan was working as a civil engineer on the other side of the world in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Her vision must have been impaired that February day when she saw my mug pop up on her computer screen and clicked on the “Interested” button. I, however, suffered no such affliction when I likewise clicked “Interested” to her beautiful picture. And that is how it started. Two people, a world apart, connected through Facebook.
For the next (nearly) two years, we wrote to each other periodically. We liked each other, that was clear. But there was no clear path to meeting in person. She was a Turk, and thus would have a difficult (though not impossible) time getting a US visa. I, on the other hand, could travel with relative ease, but I was limited by a bank account that doubled as an echo chamber and vacation time that numbered in minutes rather than days. So we both accepted that this relationship was likely to remain platonic, defined and bounded by the occasional email.
But in late 2009, Handan accepted a position with a Turkish/American joint venture construction project management company. She wrote me an email in December of 2009 explaining her transition and the fact that it would likely require her to travel to the States to have meetings with the American arm of the JV once or twice a month. She told me that the company was headquartered in Burlingame, CA and asked if that was anywhere near San Francisco.
Right then, reading that sentence, I knew that I would marry this woman. It wasn’t a premonition so much as an absolute certainty. I knew it. Our correspondence grew more frequent. We spoke on the phone. We Skyped. By Christmas, we were in a relationship. By the new year, we were in love. We had hopes and dreams of how we would make it work in the short time we would have together each month. A week later, those hopes and dreams were dashed upon the rocks of misery, driven by the winds of cruelty and borne upon frothing waves of despair. Well that’s how it felt anyway, because Handan’s deal fell through, and she accepted another position in a different company in Doha, Qatar. How the hell was I supposed to marry this woman if couldn’t ever see her?
A day or two later the answer leapt from my mind like Athena from the brow of Zeus, fully formed and perfect: I would quit my job, sell all of my belongings and move to the Middle East to be with the woman I loved! It was so…obvious! Right?
I phoned Handan. I think it was the middle of the night where she was. But sleep be damned, I had a plan! I relayed my plan, and of course, Handan thought I was bananas. But, she agreed.
I planned to take a knee and ask for Handan’s hand in marriage the moment I first met her, but she had other plans. Shortly after we decided to live together in Doha, I arrived to work at the wine bar on a Friday afternoon to prepare for the Friday evening rush. I went to the office and checked my email. There was an email from Handan. She wrote that, even though I had agreed to come live with her, she couldn’t take the risk of losing me to another woman while I prepared to move. Therefore, she concluded, she had to take the initiative and propose to me. Over email! My eyeballs almost popped out when I read her proposal. I smiled from ear to ear and ran out to tell my coworkers the good news. If they didn’t already think I was nuts, they sure as hell did then!
During the next month and a half, I gave my notice, said my farewells to friends and possessions, and headed back to my hometown to regroup before the big leap across the sea. Not long after, I was sitting in JFK Airport, sipping a beer and thinking about meeting my fiancée.
What? You’re still here? Ummm…okay. So do you want to hear more? Then I’ll have to finish the story, but I’ll do it in the Travel section, okay?
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