Five years ago today, he arrived at my doorstep, leather jacket in hand and looking incredible. He didn’t notice, but I tripped on the curb walking to his car. I don’t think I’ve ever been more excited or nervous about a date before in my life. It was Valentine’s Day 2012 and I had been living in Brussels for the past month, still finding my way around the city. As he drove us to L’Universite, a quiet restaurant near his school, I remember holding my breath while we passed through the tunnels. I wished, prayed that things would work out, that maybe this would be something different, something good. But I also kept up my guard. I had gotten out of a two year relationship just a few months prior and I felt unsure of what I wanted yet.
We arrived at L’Universite and took a cozy table near a window. It was a freezing night in Belgium, one of the coldest winters they had experienced, and I remember feeling grateful for the warmth of the restaurant. But it wasn’t just the restaurant that warmed me up. Talking to him came so easily. There never seemed to be a pause in the conversation or an awkward moment. Everything felt fluid and effortless. The night went on and we spent what must have been hours eating, drinking and talking the night away. I was totally captivated, but honestly, apprehensive as well. I didn’t feel like I could possibly be that lucky- to live in Europe AND find love? It felt too good to be true.
But the days went on, and so did our relationship. We became closer and closer – I met his parents, his friends, and he even took me to Paris for the first time. Life truly felt like a dream. Falling in love with him felt surreal.
And all this time, the effortless never once left. Everything was so incredibly simple. One of my favorite quotes from Oliver is “To every problem, there’s a solution”, and it was something he said that continued to be my anchor, even through the hardest of moments. When the time came that we had to talk about where the relationship was going and how we’d sustain it through long distance, for some reason, it seemed like a non-issue. Sure, it’d be difficult, but nothing impossible. And somehow, that worked for us.
After I left Belgium, we continued our romance. He sent me boxes and love letters every month, and we talked on Skype for hours every day. We made plans together to make our relationship work, and even after nearly two years of long distance, we made our way back to each other in Belgium, and again in North Carolina.
Now, we’re here. We have our little home together in our old cotton mill, and life is good. We’ve definitely had our ups and downs, but through it all, we’ve made it work. He supports me in my endeavors, pushes me to be a better person, and inspires me with his own perseverance and strength. I cannot help but respect him as I watch him pursue his own dreams and be successful in his own right. It’s exciting to watch another person grow, but especially so when you’re doing it alongside him. I am so grateful to have him in my life and I can’t wait to explore with him for years to come.
Je t’aime, Olivier, un peu, beaucoup, et à la folie.
Editing by yours truly.