Iliyan and I met for the first time in Ruse, a city in the northern part of Bulgaria, first city in the country to have a train station back in 1866. However, our stop was not there. Iliyan at that time was working a summer job southeast near the Black Sea, in a city called Sozopol. We went there by train, changing them at some stops and enjoying our company, this time in person. We were both very happy, shy, excited and loving the physical proximity that had not been there until now.
I have very fond memories of this town, for what it means to us and everything that happened there. For a couple that has been dating through distance for many months, or even years, this first time being together is important, it will show us whether we can work together (habit wise) or not, and also see if there is chemistry between us.
I remember I could not believe he was real, it was as if I had not believed he existed until that day, he was very tall, felt warm and I was all shy and trembling, I was beyond happy. This continued to be so as my parents talked with him, as we were traveling to Sozopol and when we checked in the hotel.
The days in Sozopol went really slow as well as fast, Iliyan was working most of the day at his summer job and I spent those hours on my computer watching stuff or having walks around the town and the beach, by the time he was coming I was dying to see him, as if it was days that had passed and not hours!
Nonetheless, Iliyan managed his schedule in such a way that he could give me as much time as he could (in most cases also at the expense of his own sleeping hours), I will always be grateful for the effort he put back then and still does everyday.
One day we went out on a walk to see the old city center, and the view to the sea from the old city wall and tower which were built in the 5th century. Sozopol is one of the oldest towns on the Black Sea’s coast, the first settlement dating back to the Bronze Age. There have been also undersea explorations in the area that revealed relics of dwellings, ceramic pottery, stone and bone tools from that era.
As we continued our walk we went more and more into the heart of the city, which revealed to us old styled houses some older than others, dating back to the 18th and 19th century. We only got to see the houses from outside, but the architecture and style gave already an idea of what we could find inside, a sort of rural atmosphere that I enjoyed quite a lot. There were people everywhere looking around as we were, or buying trinkets and souvenirs in gift shops.
We also saw the remains of a medieval monastery as we walked through the center. The city has always been through history a very important key location, so the city has many remains of interest for they are also very mixed, since Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantine and Bulgarians have passed and left their mark on the city.
As the days passed, eating from the food stands near the beach, swimming in the clear waters of the sea, walking around the city and enjoying at night each other’s company, I realized our first meeting in person had strengthened our relationship. We loved one another even more, confirming our feelings further and we knew how to voice out what was wrong and resolve it, we worked well together. Our talks, both serious and silly made me see how much we were compatible, I could be myself with him. Oh, and yes, the chemistry was definitely there.
Iliyan felt like home. Something I still feel, his body, his smell, sound, touch… everything about him makes me feel that I am home, because he is my home.
There is one little story I would like to share, it showed me how lucky I was that he had come into my life and stayed in this special way.
I had decided one night that I would surprise him by going to wait for him at the hotel where he was working. However the hotel in question was 3 kilometers away from where we were staying together, and the small train that usually connects that place with the center had already stopped running, so my only option was to walk. I had walked with him before, but going back, and it had been only twice. I was afraid of getting lost, and at some point I got to a place in which I did not know which path to choose, it was very dark and nobody was around, so I went back a bit and finally decided to call Iliyan and tell him where I was. He was surprised and rather alarmed I was all alone in the middle of nowhere so he tried to help me through the phone, he did however say he was going out as well and we would probably meet in the middle. I closed the call and started walking, a car passed right near me and stopped, the person started talking to me in Bulgarian, I replied I was okey, and thanked him assuming he wanted to help me, but he did this again, I started to get rather scared, feeling my heart pounding hard against my chest, again I said the same and continued walking a bit faster, just some minutes after that I see someone running fast in the distance towards me, as the silhouette got closer I recognized Iliyan just seconds before he collided with me in a big hug. He did not speak, just hugged me tightly while panting. He told me after that he had been very scared and worried that something could have happened to me. I felt his fear, his love, his care, his pain… everything.
My heart however felt fuzzy, after all the adrenaline from before now I felt butterflies in my body because of how worried he had been, my heart was rejoicing in a way. I felt loved and protected. Funnily enough I thought this kind of things only happen in anime or films.
After everything that we experienced in Sozopol and what it meant to us as a couple, I remember it with endearment, hoping that one day, we will go again together to have fun and love each other with sweetness and passion like we did back then and we always do no matter where we are.