These are pictures of Sevim and I at our wedding ceremony, Oct. 16, 1998. The last one is the two of us at a mall in Ankara.

This is Sevim's younger brother Nihat and I about to have a hearty Turkish meal. I added the Pizza just to give it an international flair. Nihat's son Altan is looking back to his mother Yeliz to see if he can have some pizza. The other photo is Sevim dressing the part for her new adventure!

And here we are posing (quite naturally, I might add) for a picture for our Nisan, or engagement, ceremony. In Turkey, its a formal thing where the couple announces to the community their intention to marry.

Here's the story of how we met:

It was January 1994, and I was just escaping a mediocre military assignment at McChord AFB, WA. I also had some bad memories regarding a previous relationship that had left me emotionally devastated and distrustful towards women. I was a man in need of a change in my life. Turkey was my 5th choice on my "dream sheet" of military assignments, behind England, Germany, Australia, and Greece. It wasn't long after I requested the assignment that I received it--Incirlik AB, Turkey.

I became very excited, and I got some books from my local library and I began studying the language and culture. I knew Turkey would be a great adventure for me; I just couldn't wait to go. Finally January 1994 came, and I flew to Incirlik. What a culture shock it was for me! I was perusing the Incirlik "Alley" for some souvenirs one day after work when I happened upon Sami's T-Shirt Shop. I went in and met two of the best friends I've ever had--Güven Sendoganer and Sercan Kesli. We immediately hit it off and I found myself going to Sami's almost every night, just to sip çay, study and speak a little Turkish, and just have a great time. After work, we would zip out to Adana's Galleria mall and we'd spend an hour or two at the arcade or we'd go to the downtown McDonalds and have a Big Mac. What a great time we had.

And then, I met her. Sevim. She worked as a foreman in a T-shirt printing factory in downtown Adana. She was there that day in April 1994 when I came by and I was mesmerized at how beautiful, sophisticated, and mature she was. I really didn't know how to act around her, so I just goofed off a little, and after she left, I was positive that was that--there was no way a girl like that would fall for me.

A few months later I found out I was wrong.

Sercan approached me one evening and said that Sevim wanted to see me again. I thought he was joking, but he said no, it was true. A double date was arranged with him and his girlfriend and Sevim and I. We went to Disco Nesim on a Sunday in late September 1994. Tarkan had just recently put out the song "Oynama Sikidim," and it is a song I will never forget. It was the first tune that was playing when she danced for me (I say "danced for me" because I don't dance, I just make jerky movements with my body in time to some song in my head). She looked at me with such admiration and all my apprehension and my distrustfulness towards women just seemed to melt away. I trusted her. I always wanted to spend time with her. She became very important to me.

And over my time in Turkey, our relationship continued to grow as we struggled through my broken Turkish (she concentrated more on teaching me Turkish than learning English for herself), the differences in our cultures, and conflicting schedules. But with her, it was always exciting, fun, wonderful....every superlative I can think of. We developed our own language from the words that I knew and had some great conversations. And even though our communication was broken and sometimes difficult, we always knew what the other person "meant" to say and I could, for the first time in my life, acknowledge that I had found a woman that I could understand. I loved her. I still do.

But I was scared. Forever is a very long time. And I was afraid that since we couldn't communicate very well, I was afraid that soon after a marriage together, when we did learn to communicate better, there would be nothing to say. When it came time to move on for my military career, I told her that I was leaving and I did exactly that. The end of our relationship was in July 31, 1996. She often refers to that day as a day she will never forget. I won't either.

And I didn't. I continued to think of her often and I found myself comparing all women to her. Though I had a couple of relationships during that time, she remained constantly on my mind, even though I denied it to myself. And then in November of 1997, I had a very vivid dream about her. I was together with her again. And then she was gone. And I began to feel terribly sad that she wasn't with me anymore. And then I saw a telephone in front of me and I heard her voice coming from it.

I woke up. I wasn't going to let my relationship with her just disappear into nothing. It didn't matter to me if we were just going to be friends....I had to have her in my life again. So I called her. And she was so excited. I had always believed that she had moved on and had other boyfriends, maybe even married. It turns out she had waited for me in the hope that I would call her again. We talked for an hour and it was like a year and a half had never passed. The old feelings were back. And I was happy for the first time in a year and a half.

The next several months had me debating on what relationship I would pursue with Sevim. Marriage was still scary and I sought a lot of advice from a lot of different people. Some of the most supportive and kind to me were @Maiaa, @KozyCat, and @MrsSnow (who taught me how to say "Benimle evlenir misin?"--> That's "Will you marry me?" in Turkish). I finally decided that it was time for me to acknowledge to myself that I loved her very, very much and I made a leap of faith.

I flew to Turkey with one thing on my mind--I will ask her to marry me. On April 12, 1998, I asked her to be my wife. We celebrated our nisan ceremony on April 19. We were married in Turkey on October 16, 1998 and hope to marry again in America in late 1999--a marriage for each of our families to see. I thank God for this beautiful woman who taught me love, trust, and beauty and then gave me all 3 when I had none in my life. I am a very lucky man.

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