Early winter 1992. I had been in DC for the better part of two years, and decided finally to take advantage of the genealogical resources available on my doorstep. I needed a non-school project that didn’t involve other people, so I headed to the National Archives to have a dig through their records.
The research room at the time was like a small local library branch, with rows of microfilm and microfiche machines, their motors whirring on and off. Mostly it was older women up there, mainly tourists, some professional researchers, and nerds.
I suppose my being one of the very few (or only, as far as I could see) young ladies frequenting the research room was what caught his eye. At any rate, I found myself being enthusiastically assisted by one of the employees at the Archives. Young, but older than me. Good-looking. Obviously gainfully employed. Hmmm.
I was getting ready to head home when he approached.
“Do you like industrial metal?”, he asked.
In my never-ending quest for irreverence, I probably told him “Man, I love John Denver.” (or whatever came to mind that I liked that was the opposite of industrial).
I guess that didn’t deter him, because I found myself sitting on a bench in the elevator lobby, sharing headphones, listening to “Jesus Built My Hotrod”.
That’s how I met Will.
Will was a local NoVA guy, 24ish, tall, burly. We went on a few fun dates – dinners, movies, the usual. But there was something I had to tell him, and the time was looming when I would have to get it off my chest.
It was tough, but I just came out with it: “I’m leaving for 6 months in Turkey in mid-January.”
I told Will I hoped we could stay in touch and maybe see where things stood when I got back to town sometime in summer of ’93. If not, that’s understandable. Will indicated he would like to continue to see where things went. Cool.
Not long after this discussion, Will stopped taking my calls. I was 100% ghosted, as the millennials say. Meh. I had an adventure of a lifetime coming up. He obviously changed his mind. Time to move on.
A couple months later, I was playing Pictionary with a group of fellow study abroad students in southern Turkey. There were about a dozen of us in total in the program, and about 4 of us playing Pictionary that night. It is important to stress how small a group of random people were brought together that night near Antalya.
This night was a companionable evening, with Efes beer and wide-ranging conversations. One of those conversations? Genealogy. One of the women, Barb, was a genealogy nerd, too. Naturally, we talked about our major finds and how we came about them. Because we were both college kids in DC, we both had been to the Archives many times.
“Haha. I used to date a guy that works there. I met him when I was down there doing research”, I said.
“Hey! Me too!”, Barb replied. “Was his name Will?”
“Holy shit yes. When were you dating him?” I asked.
“Just before I came here!”
So, whenever I need a chuckle, I think of that dude Will, getting told by two different women, complete strangers, in the winter of ’92, that they were going to Turkey for 6 months.