You’re about to read the most romantic story I’ve ever written. And every word of it is true. I lived it.
Today is not only my 41st birthday, but it’s also the 5 year anniversary of the day my sexy Dutchman proposed. In celebration of the most amazing man I’ve ever met, I’d like to tell you the story of how two people, living oceans apart, made a life together after fifteen years of separation.
In the summer of 1997, I was 21 years old, still in college, and still trying to find myself. I went out to a bar with my friend, Marla, and as soon as I walked through the door, my shoe broke. It was a flip-flop type of sandal, and the strap across the top of my foot ripped from the sole. I couldn’t spend the evening walking around in one shoe, so I borrowed a stapler from the bartender and improvised.
So there I was, in my ten dollar dress from Target and a broken, stapled shoe, drinking cheap beer and wondering what I was doing with my life.
Then I spotted him across the room. Tall. Tan. The biggest blue eyes I’d ever seen. Everything I found attractive in a man was wrapped up in one sexy package. Marla saw me fawning over him, and she tried to get me to talk to him.
“No way. He’s out of my league.” What would a guy like that see in a girl like me?
I continued drinking my cheap beer and watching him from a distance until Marla decided she had to pee. I followed her to the bathroom, not paying much attention to anything, when she tapped a man on the shoulder. He turned around, and Marla said, “Excuse me, my friend finds you very attractive.”
Then she walked away and left me standing there, staring into those piercing blue eyes and not knowing what to say.
Then he spoke–in a foreign accent–and his sexiness factor quadrupled. I honestly don’t remember what he said or how I responded, but I do remember the important parts: tall, tan, blue eyes, foreign accent. What else matters?
He was in town for a month for job training, and boy-oh-boy was that a month to remember. I started going out with him and his colleagues after their training sessions. Then I started going out with just him. Then I started spending the nights with him. It was a month-long whirl-wind romance, but with a definite end in sight.
He worked in the oil industry, and when his training was over, he moved to the Middle East. I stayed home and finished college. We tried to stay in touch through email–Skype and FaceTime didn’t exist back then–but eventually we fell out of touch.
Fast forward eleven or twelve years. Life happened. I got married and had two kids. Then we found each other on Facebook. We said hello, chatted a bit, but our lives had drifted so far apart, there wasn’t much to say. He ended up canceling his account, and I didn’t hear from him again.
Fast forward a few more years, and my life had changed in a major way. I was divorced, teaching high school journalism and raising my daughters on my own. I got on Facebook and clicked the little chat icon to see who was online, and his name popped up.
I sent him a message, we made small talk for a few minutes, and then our conversation went something like this:
Me: So, are you seeing anyone?
Him: No, not at the moment.
Me: Did I mention I’m divorced?
We started Skyping in January, and by March he’d bought me a plane ticket to fly out to Holland to visit him. My kids spent Spring Break with their father, and I hopped on a jet and flew to Europe.
When I got off the plane, he was waiting for me with a rose in his hand. I threw myself into his arms and kissed him, and it was like all the years we spent apart didn’t matter anymore. We picked up right where we left off fifteen years ago.
The first night in his apartment, we sat in the living room listening to music. He played Foolish Games by Jewel, a song I hadn’t heard in years.
“Oh, I love this song,” I said.
He replied, “I know. You used to sing it all the time in the car when I was with you. So when I left America, I bought the CD.”
He still remembered my favorite song…fifteen years later. (I may have swooned a little bit at the memory just now!)
I could write an entire book about the adventure of spending a week with him in Holland. Maybe one day I will.
He worked in the oil industry and rotated for his job, four weeks in Africa, four weeks at home. Instead of going home to Holland on his time off, he started rotating to America and spending time with me and my kids.
A year later, he proposed on my birthday. Three months after that, we were married.
This year, we’ll celebrate five years together, and I couldn’t be happier. We are living proof that what’s meant to be will happen in its own time.