Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Pleasant Surprise, When Least Expected

I had been single for about a year. Knowing that I'd be away most of the summer on bike trips, dating wasn't high on my priority list. For one, it's difficult to find a potential suitor who is near my age and who has the desire and the means to be able to break free from the work world and explore all that life has to offer. For two, I wasn't terribly interested in entering a relationship that would distract me from my upcoming bike trips.

With the encouragement of my friend, Cedar, I reenabled my online dating profile a month or so before I left for the Sierrra-Cascades ride. She had convinced me that if I didn't put myself out there, I'd never find anyone.

There were quite a few email exchanges with various potential suitors as well as a few first "dates" (oh, how I hate that word). Alas, none of the gentlemen excited me. I came to the conclusion that I was neither mentally nor emotionally interested in dating.

Nine days before I left for my summer of biking, I logged into the online dating website to disable my profile. In the upper left-hand corner of the webpage was this photo:

The photo that caught my eye.

This was a fresh face -- one I had not yet seen. I thought to myself: "Self, you might as well enjoy some calorie-free eye candy before you voluntarily remove yourself from the online dating world." And so, to appease my taste for sweets, I clicked through to the guy's other photos:

Hubba hubba.

The guy looked cute, active, and adventurous. For the hell of it, I dug a little deeper and read his profile.

As it turns out, this guy had quit his job to spend a year and a half exploring the world. The first year, he drove from Seattle to Panama and back in his truck/camper. For the remainder of his trip, he backpacked through Southeast Asia.

He had just returned from his travels. He was on the dating website in hopes of finding a woman who would help him feel at home back in Seattle.

The guy's profile mentioned that he had been inspired by a TED talk given by Stephen Sagmeister. I was familiar with this TED talk. In fact, Stephen's talk is one of my favorites. He's a proponent of taking an extended sabbatical every few years to rejuvenate and refresh one's outlook on life. 

Hmm…my interest was piqued.

Impressed by the profile, I sent a quick note to the guy, who I'd later learn was named "Ferit." In my note, I welcomed Ferit home. I mentioned that Stefan had inspired me to take a "permanent sabbatical." As I was leaving shortly for a trip of my own, I wished him well. I was not fishing for a reply from Ferit; I simply wanted to acknowledge his adventure.

After hitting the "send message" button, I proceeded to disable my account. But, before the disabling process was complete, the website notified me that I had received a reply from Ferit.

I read Ferit's reply. He had commented that my "permanent sabbatical" sounded fun and that he was working towards making his next sabbatical permanent. He asked if I lived in Seattle or if I was just passing through. I hadn't intended to start another email thread. I didn't want to be rude, though, so I answered his reply. 

We exchanged an ungodly number of emails in the following few minutes and shortly thereafter decided that we'd meet up the next day to talk in person. We exchanged contact information, and then I completed the process to disable my profile.

The next day, Ferit and I met up for a walk'n'talk during which we shared our sabbatical experiences. Ferit asked if I'd be interested in going to a coffee shop to talk further. I wasn't interested, as I had to get back to my trip preparations. Ferit asked if I'd be interested in dinner the next night instead. Jeepers, he was quite persistent! Sure, I could probably talk more over dinner tomorrow.

Finally, before we parted, Ferit asked if he could take a photo of us. Camera-shy me surprisingly agreed.

Me & Ferit -- at the end of our first get-together.

Call me naive, but I didn't consider our first get-together to be a "date." Nor did I consider our dinner at Cafe Flora the following evening to be a date either. It wasn't until Ferit emailed me the photo he had taken after our walk when it dawned on me: "Hey, we look cute together, and that smile on my face is genuinely huge!"

Eventually there was a kiss, which quickly obliterated my naivety.

In the few remaining days before I left for my trip, Ferit and I spent as much time together as my busy schedule would allow.

In one of our conversations, Ferit mentioned that he and his sister, Dilek, were going to be taking a road trip in a few weeks. Ferit suggested perhaps they could meet up with me and Alex as we biked north through the Sierra-Cascades. That would be fun!

Ferit and I shared a lot of emails and texts while I was on my bike trip. We talked on the phone and we skyped as well. Through our communications, we learned more about each other, and we realized that we had many more common interests and dreams than we had initially realized.

Just over a month into the Sierra-Cascades trip, Ferit and Dilek joined Alex and me in Southern Oregon (see Day #35: Oregon or Bust). Meeting up with us on the trip meant a lot to me -- it showed me that Ferit was a "doer" and not just a "talker." I liked that -- a lot.

You: "So, Sarah, tell me more about this Ferit guy."
Me: "Okie dokie. There are many wonderful things to share, but I'll just highlight a few things here."

For beginners, Ferit is from Turkey. He has been living in the US for the last 17 years. His name, Ferit, is Turkish for "The One."

Before leaving for his travels, Ferit worked as a software architect at Microsoft. He would like to return to the work world for a few more years before making the leap to permanent sabbaticaldom.

Ferit's first love is kite surfing. His eyes get quite animated whenever he talks about kiting.

Ferit kite surfing.

Another passion of Ferit's is photography. He published many of the beautiful photos from his recent travels in a book called "Not All Who Wander Are Lost."

Ferit's photo book.

It's no coincidence that the title of his book is the same as the words written on the pendant I wear around my neck. When Ferit and I first met, he was searching for a title for his book. His search was finished when he saw my necklace.

My Pendant.

More important than his country of origin, his career, and his interests, Ferit is an all-around awesome guy. He's a great conversationalist. He has a fantastic sense of humor. He's adventurous. He sees challenges as opportunities. He appreciates my independence. And most importantly, he gives life to his dreams.

Suffice it to say, that I am quite excited to have met Ferit. I'm looking forward to seeing what two dreamer-doers can accomplish.

Mutual excitement abounds.

What a lovely surprise, when I was least expecting it.


  1. Very very cool! I've always said the best first "dates" were those you didn't think were! He is one lucky guy to have met you! I'll check out the book!

    Love Cafe Flora! There maihroom French dip and fries are amazing!

    1. This was the first time I had ever unknowingly been on a first "date." In hindsight, it was quite a lovely first date. :)

      Will have to check out the fries and dip. Sounds yummy!

    2. Micvhelle and I have an after work dinner with a old firend of her's once a month, and that is her favorite place becasue of the French Dip. Michelle gets the Wahaka (that is NOT how you spell it but how you say it) tacos. I will never be a vegetarian, but love it!

      Michelle and I didn't date for a long time (worked together) lunches, walks, etc and it just happened.

      HEY his book looks amazing!

    3. "It just happened." :) Very sweet! :)

      Yup, Ferit's photography book is quite amazing. We've been talking about how cool it would be to create a Volume 2 together. ;)

    4. Lady, put me down as the first person to buy one when you do as long as it autographed by both of you! :) That is one lucky man hun!

    5. Deal! :)

      Funny, as *I* see myself as the lucky one. :)

    6. Sarah, I think with those kids of photos and your writing talents Volume 2 will be a big hit, a bestseller! I'm looking forward to it! Keep on writing!

    7. That'd be a fun project. Thanks for the encouragement! :)

  2. OMG!!! That last post is so romantic and serendipitous!! I LOVED it! Sarah, you are so darn cute, I am not surprised that you found an equally cute adventurer to spend your time with!! Thanks for sharing! Oh and I wondered who did your body paint?? hehe

    1. Serendipitious indeed! I'm super-duper grateful to have met my "cute adventurer" and very excited to see where we go together.

      Yup, Ferit was the body paint artist. :) It was a fun activity for getting to know each other better -- hehe. :)

    2. It is rare that I am speachless with a big stupid grin on my face from a blog post comment!! I am now!! LOVE IT!!

  3. I love this story, Sarah! So exciting and wonderful. The picture book is stunning. Looking forward to volume 2!
    (This is Preeti :) )

  4. Preeti!! So great to hear from you! I'll let you know when Volume 2 is available. :)

  5. Sarah, I read this post with a smile! I am taking full credit for your meeting Ferit!

    1. Full credit totally totally deserved. Thank you for being so persistent! Miss you lots, chica! :)

  6. Sarah, thanks for sharing your relationship story, great reading about what seems like such a great match. And really, now I totally get your lack of desire to keep riding after Crater Lake when you had Ferit waiting for you.

    1. Thanks for your note. Yup, you hit the nail on the head! Ferit and I had only known each other for a few days before I left for my trip. Despite this, he patiently waited for me (for 50 days!) so that I could bike the Sierra-Cascades. Throughout the whole trip, he sent me countless emails and texts and made himself available to talk on the phone and Skype whenever I had cell reception or a wifi connection. I am one heck of a lucky girl! There's not a day that has gone by when I'm not grateful that we met one another. :)

  7. Hi again, Sarah! Sorry I am slow to comment on these...sometimes comments freeze up on my iPad so I am doing this from my PC! I loved this romantic story--thanks for sharing it! I thought it looked like there was something special between you two when he met up with you on the bike trip! So glad to read that you've made such a great connection with a like minded, adventurous guy!

    1. Thanks for your note, Kelly! Looking forward to all of us meeting when we pass through Germany!

  8. It was for me really interesting how you guys met! Nice to hear about my brother from other perspectives.

    1. Interesting indeed! Your brother is an amazing guy. I'm pretty crazy about him! :)


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