Story time

Because we’ve mailed the forms for Beloved to take the right exam, and now we’re waiting, I figured I had time to tell you a story.

It’s the story of how we met. And also how we didn’t meet (and how I’m very happy we didn’t).

In our meeting and not-meeting, there is a shop that plays a central role. It’s a rather unassuming place with two floors and maybe 600 square feet surface area. It has had three sets of owners in the time I know it. As far as I can tell, the shop has always been a labour of love.

The first owner decided to sell the shop because he needed more time to spend on his wife, who was diagnosed with a serious illness. The second pair of owners were an international scholar and his girlfriend. The first time I met them we chatted and I decided to skip my class drink more coffee with the couple instead.

I came by somewhat regularly and occasionally brought my long term “sort-of-boyfriend”. At some point, when said man did not accompany me, I explained the nature of his relationship with me, as well as my acceptance of said nature. Soon after, the man of the couple took me aside and told me he knew of another nice guy – American – I could maybe try to date, if I were willing. I begged off, stating that I was way too busy for another “sort of”, let alone an actual relationship.

We never spoke of that again, and the relationship I was in slowly deteriorated into something that made me sick with worry and fear if we were not together and completely miserable and worthless if we were. In the mean time, the second pair of owners broke up and sold the store to another couple. An American woman had come over to join her partner here, and she started running the shop.

My by then abusive relationship ended, leaving me in a several months long fog of denial and absence of emotional balance. My lifeline were frequent phone calls with the members of an online community I was a part of. One lady in particular spoke with me often. She also worked at the shop, which I had declined to visit in a long time. As the darkest clouds receded and I stopped sleeping in order to catch up on the damage done to my life by my broken heart, she called. I’d spent the day at home, trying to fight my way through my Master’s thesis and was in no mood for joyful conversations.

“I met a man today. In the shop! He just came in to chat and obviously knows the owner.” she thrilled. “He’s really sweet and handsome, and I think you would really like him”. Met by my silence she continued: “I’d consider him myself, but he really is too young” . Still decidedly unimpressed, I told her I was trying to graduate university and was in no mood for things like men or dating. Besides, it had been eight months since the break up, did she think I was anywhere near relationship material again? She would hear none of it. Even when I admitted to a trip to the international scholar (and second owner of the shop) for a brief weekend of debauchery in his home country and a random one nighter  as my few first experiments with singlehood, she would not be denied. She kept calling, telling me to at least take a look at his profile on the internet.

I relented. Surfing was something I did way too much of, anyway, and looking at some (doubtlessly uninteresting) dude on the interwebs was at least a nice distraction.

I read the profile and enjoyed it. Very verbose, no well-recognizable pictures and – oh wow – he used a word I did not know. With my interest piqued and with absolutely nothing to lose and no serious interest whatsoever, I wrote a message describing my search for the word’s definition. I also included some critical questions about the possible contexts. He replied. We bantered somewhat.

Less than a week later I had consented to a drink in a local bar, thinking that it would maybe be interesting to take on an ‘introduce a foreigner to my country-project’ as a further distraction from my studies. As I picked him up from the train station, it rained cats and dogs. I felt a little guilty for the bad weather.

We’ve been smitten ever since.

After a few weeks of dating, I called the international scholar to tell him I was no longer interested in any trysts. I had, by then, learned that lover was a) not new to my country at all and b) him and international scholar were good friends when they both lived here. During that conversation I suddenly remembered international scholar’s remark about knowing a guy for me to date. Turns out that, had we let international scholar have his way, we would have met each other more than two years earlier.

I don’t know, of course, but I am pretty certain we wouldn’t be where we are now if that had happened. I, at least, had a few more lessons to learn.

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4 Responses to “Story time”


  1. 1 Amanda December 8, 2011 at 7:08 pm

    Oh thanks for sharing. Before the boy I had a best-friends-with benefits kind of relationship that did no good to my mental health.
    I am glad you finally met beloved, when the moment came, what a coincidence huh, that you could have met him before ? I am big for that kind of thing, love finding that kind of scenarios and thinking about the possibilities and about how it is in fact impressive that we are where we are…

  2. 2 thesmittenimmigrant December 11, 2011 at 11:29 am

    Coincidence is a fascinating force indeed. And friends with benefits, I’ve seen them work out beautifully, but sometimes they’re not so good.

    Thinking about how we ended up where we are can be a dizzying experience 🙂

  3. 3 Alice December 13, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    Very sweet little story. How lucky you were to finally cross paths! It took two chances but it must have been meant to be! When I think about how I met my husband, it takes my breath away. The improbability of us ever meeting scares me to this day. There were so many little factors and events that had to happen just so for us to ever cross paths.

    • 4 thesmittenimmigrant December 16, 2011 at 11:40 am

      It is interesting indeed 🙂 The desire for us humans to make our lives into a story that tells well, makes it easy for us to ignore the delightful chance of coincidence. I think that’s too bad.

      I look forward to reading the rest of your love story, in any case 🙂


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