10 years

I’m on my bicycle and almost at my destination: Frederik Lintstraat 182 in Leuven. Better known as “Flint-182” among our friends. It’s 27 September 2011 and we’re gathering at Lara’s student digs for drinks before heading to a drum ‘n’ bass party at the Rumba.

Lara has created a Facebook event, and I’ve checked out those who will be there, as one does. Among them is a South African exchange student. As I’m cycling past the bus stop in Frederik Lint, I recognise that student getting off the bus with a friend. It takes some time locking my bike, and as a result, we arrive together at the doorstep of Flint-182.

“Hi, I’m Job. Are you also here to visit Lara?” I ask, already knowing the answer. “Yes, we are. I’m Kim,” she replies.

In the lounge at Flint-182, Kim and I have our first interactions. I instantly like her vibrancy, her audacity, her interests, her passion. I fall head-over-heels for her.

Later that week, I’ll be meeting my friend Tom at the sauna. I will tell him that I’d never considered moving out of Belgium before. And that maybe I should. Meeting Kim will have been the catalyst in my change of mind.

In weeks to follow, Kim will be studying for her dreaded corporate law exam. She will lock herself in her room and only take short breaks for food and walks. Her student home is a short walk from mine. I will volunteer to cook on more than one occasion and basically become her main break. We will spend time together several times per week. Both of us will realise that Kim’s exchange is ending in just a few months, and it’ll make us paradoxically both extremely cautious and super invested in the time with each other.

Six weeks from now, we will become a couple. Kim will decide to stay another half year in Belgium doing volunteer work. When we’ll have dated for about eight months, we will go on a long trip throughout South Africa before our year of long-distance begins. The year will suck in many ways, but we will grow closer together. During the year, I will surprise Kim with a proposal.

In a few years from now, I will move to South Africa. A few months later we will get married. During a global pandemic that now only exists in apocalyptic movies, our daughter will be born. But not until we’ll have traveled the world together.

On 27 September 2011, that’s all in the future. Together we walk to the Rumba where we put on imaginary backpacks and dance to drum ‘n’ bass. Our first picture together becomes a fact. It is unflattering and I hope that it’s the least flattering of many more to come. I mostly hope it will be the first of many more.

On 27 September 2011, the future of us begins.

Our first pic together. Still one of the least flattering ones to date. Taken by Lara.

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