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Parks and a Hail Mary

Kisses are like dates, I swear you don’t appreciate the good ones until you’ve had a REALLY BAD ONE.

Loni James
Loni James
9 min read
Parks and a Hail Mary
Checking out Galata Tower in Istanbul. 

A Date in Every Country: A Series
Date #10
Location: Istanbul, Türkiye
Nationality: Turkish/Aussie
Activity: ferry rides and parks and…
Time: 6 hours
Will see again? I’d like to :)
Connected via: Hinge

We have the first Hinge date. I have been trying to mix it up a bit by experimenting with different apps as so far Tinder Passport has been my go-to. I confess to swiping on this dreamy man with few expectations for us connecting. A match, a quick chat, anddddd nothing. The convo sat dead for days. Many do, that’s just part of the experience. I’ll confess after #Date 9 disappeared on me I was feeling frustrated. I had not made plans for my last weekend in Istanbul as I THOUGHT I was going wedding crashing. Cue MAJOR disappointment on my end. I wasn’t about to let my last weekend in this beautiful country go to waste. That morning over breakfast I met the loveliest girl staying in my same hostel/hotel. We chatted over breakfast and ended up spending the day together. We talked dating and I shared with her about being ghosted. She had a date scheduled that night and encouraged me to do the same. By Saturday afternoon, when I hadn’t heard anything from #9, I decided to throw a few Hail Mary texts out. Why not?! So I did it. I did the double text.

My previous text had been sent days earlier without a response but I figured I had nothing to lose. It was Saturday afternoon and I had less than 48 hours left in Türkiye.

Me: “Did I lose you? I’m leaving on Monday so if you’re free let me know!”
Him, almost instantly: “Babe. OMG. I’m so sorry. I need your number. I will message you right now.”

Now does anyone else bristle at nicknames right off the bat? The overly friendly nicknames like Babe or Sweetie, when coming from American guys always seem put on. I find it odd as they don't know me, let alone haven’t even met me so why the nickname?! Are they doing that so they don't have to learn my name? Is that me being cynical? Perhaps....BUTTTTT somehow it doesn’t bother me nearly as much when coming from foreign men. Maybe it’s because I can hear it in an accent and lord knows I have a weakness for those. Maybe it’s because I have some friends from Australia who do use these terms quite often and not in an off-putting way. Either way, I chose to ignore the nickname and when he sent me his number I shot him a quick text.

Me: “Hey it’s Loni. Glad to hear you didn’t forget me.”
Him: “Hey babe. (Again!) I’m going to be rude and disappear for a bit cause I have a match. Then I’m all yours.”

Did I mention he moved here as an athlete?! Oh yeah. That didn’t hurt a bit. Tall, handsome, fit AND an accent?!?! I guess I can handle being called babe right off the bat lol. I did appreciate his communication that he was going to be unavailable for a bit. When you’re coming from a previous experience of poor to little communication, even the most basic consideration seems like a win. This has me thinking, why am I so grateful for the bare minimum? I dislike my immense gratitude at the most basic of human decency. Even if someone is ending something, if they communicate clearly with even the least bit of consideration for my feelings I feel like writing them a goddamn thank you note! Speaking of, he was quick to write as soon as he was done with his match and expressed interest in seeing me before I left the country. Why not!? With Date #9 completely missing in action, my weekend was wide open so we agreed to meet the following day.

Stayed in Kadikoy for a few days.

Our conversation flew from there, with both of us attempting to pick a fun activity for our Sunday. He was newer to town so he hadn’t seen much. It was my last day in Türkiye and we decided exploring together seemed like a good idea. We made plans to meet at the ferry stop before we headed across the water to a new part of town. Well let me tell you, when this man came walking up, I had to crane my head back to look up. He was TALL. And Handsome. And that smile. SHEESH. This weekend was certainly looking up! :)

We jumped on the ferry and I could immediately tell that he was a physical touch guy. Not in a weird or creepy way, just an arm across the back of the chair type. He asked permission first and I appreciated him checking if that was ok with me. Our chat came easily, before we knew it we were teasing each other and cracking jokes. I do love the Aussie sense of humor. We were discussing his move across the world and how it takes bravery to leave everything you know behind. He continued to be communicative as he let me know that he was coaching later that evening but we had all afternoon. The ferry was quick and we decided to grab a beer before we set to exploring. Talk about a BIG OL’ FAIL. By that I mean we wandered in circles all over this particular area looking for any shop that sold beer. Istanbul has been extremely hot lately so a cold beverage was become more and more necessary. It was Sunday at noon but still, it shouldn’t haven’t been THAT hard to find a beer lol. We even stopped and asked for directions…more than once! We FINALLY found a little shop and grabbed a 6 pack. By that time we wanted to drink them stat so we headed to the park just across the way. We both felt very relaxed with each other as we sat in the grass chatting and drinking in the shade. His dimples were distracting. More than once I caught him looking at my lips. We all know what’s coming next.

He asked to kiss me and my goodness, it was a good one. So was the second. And the third. Now for my confession -  we didn’t get to exploring…the neighborhood that is. We sat in the park, kissing and chatting, and kissing some more. It was just so lovely and relaxed and a perfect way to spend the afternoon. He even bought me a rose from a local women who came by. He is a great kisser and this prompted a discussion on what makes a good kiss. It also meant that we both shared our worse kiss stories. He might have attempted a demonstration which had us cracking up. I couldn’t stop laughing as I waved my hands about trying to imitate this guy from college whom I called Stabby Joe. (That man did NOT retract his tongue - it was AWFUL!) I was not going to attempt an actual demonstration of that. EWW.

Kisses are like dates, I swear you don’t appreciate the good ones until you’ve had a REALLY BAD ONE.

At this point, I really thought that exploring the other part of the city was still on the agenda so I got us up and moving. (I KNOW! What was I thinking?!) We get to the corner, his arm draped across my shoulder as we waited on the light to turn. He pulls me close and asked if he could confess something. I said yes and he look at me sweetly as he confessed that he was not really interested in exploring this neighborhood but would much rather hang in the park and kiss me all afternoon. (COME ON - how cute is that?!) Well it was not hard to change my mind and with that we set out to find another park. We decided to take the ferry back to the side that we had come from. We both burst out laughing when we realized how far we had come for a cheap 6 pack and a park.

At this point, we were a little shameless kissing on the ferry. Nothing too much but it was playful and cute. We were totally that couple. (Sorry, not sorry.) We landed on the other side and he pulls up google and looks for the nearest park. At this point, I’m having a full internal dialogue. Why? Because I’m throwing around the idea of what we can and can’t do in a park. There’s another option that comes to mind that has nothing to do with a park but that seems like a bold choice and not something I would normally do. He was now leading us towards a park and I’m doing mental cartwheels around the idea of what I’m comfortable with and how much chemistry I have with this very cute human. We are getting close and just as we turn this corner, he looked around and goes, “There’s supposed to be a park here.”

There’s no park in sight. UGH. What to do!?

We are now standing on a street corner, both of us looking around in disappointment and wondering what options we have. We both are clearly very into each other and we only have a few hours before he has to leave. I think I could kiss this man all afternoon and be perfectly happy. He had said as much to me and on this point we both agreed. I knew what I wanted to do but I needed to find my nerve. I still struggle to give myself permission to live boldly, to do what I want to do and not let what others may think dissuade me. I gave myself a mental pep talk and a few seconds later I quietly voiced the other option I’ve been toying with. “Ummm, my hotel is not that far from here…..if you’re comfortable with that.” He stopped and looked at me. He was quick to assure me that was not his intention for the date and he was perfectly fine with parks and kissing. I appreciated his thoughtfulness and the fact that he was not pressuring me. I let him know that I was comfortable with him coming back with me. Multiple times throughout our time together he checked in on my comfort levels and I really wish this was the standard.

We set off in a new direction and I’m now hatching a plan of how to sneak this not short human into my room without attracting any questions from the hotel staff. A 6’2” man tiptoeing is hilarious by the way. We managed to sneak in undetected andddd welllllll he may or may not have been a little late to his practice. This was most definitely not how I thought the day would go but I went with my gut and allowed myself some freedom. I find it hard sometimes to “give myself permission” to be more open/spontaneous when it comes to connections like this. I think sometimes it stems from a fear of regret or what others might think. Well there are zero regrets on my end. I’m reminded of those studies that they’ve done with older people at the end of their lives. The ones where time and time again, people regret more what they didn’t do versus what they did. For me, this means saying yes to more things - travel, opportunities, moving to new places and yes, dates :)

I’m so thankful for this date and while this was a different sort of cultural exchange ;) I’m quite happy to have met him. A perfect Sunday afternoon with a kindhearted human proved a delightful way to end my time in this beautiful country. I will say, it sucks meeting such a sweet and lovely human the day before I left. He voiced this frustration more than once saying how he wished he had checked his Hinge earlier in the week so we could have had more time together. We both realized that we took zero photos together and really wished we had. As I know many will ask, yes we are still in touch and have discussed ways to meet up again. If we can manage that then I’ll be sure to take pics. He was super sweet and even sent me encouraging texts as he knew I was tackling some big hikes in the weeks following our date. Little things like that go a long way and I’m hopeful to see this one again. Time will tell.

Teaser: Next stop, Switzerland! I must confess it was a complete bust. Can't wait to see and hear what you all think.

Loni Jamesa date in every countrydatingfemalesolo traveltraveltinder passporthingeturkeytürkiye

Loni James

As I collect and record these stories, I hope they make you laugh, curse and dream of far off places. May they inspire you to cross oceans and meet plenty of interesting people along the way.