A quiet romance


The coffee shop where it all started

Bad romance. Cursed romance. Sick love. I have just completed my overdose of tv and finished watching season 2 of Homeland. (I went through 12 episodes in 2 days and a half, basically sleep deprived and kind of tense, dreaming of CIA chasing me and bombs exploding at every corner). I am partially relieved, thinking that I can now resume my sleeping habits but also in need of some kind of fix because I can’t get enough of the Carrie-Brody romance. Which is the very definition of BAD ROMANCE. Two fragile, complicated, flawed characters connect on the deepest level, only to get separated every time they’re about to have it all. Tragic. Shakespearean. Irresistible.

So I went to bed at 1.30, thinking of him them and trying to convince myself it was just another show. As a child I used to fall in love all the time with fictional characters, mainly those in my grandmother’s favorite films. We used to watch tv together (a lot! way too much by modern parenting standards) because she was 60 and 30 years ago 60 was today’s 80 and I guess she needed some daydreaming. So I spent primary school thinking that Rhett Butler and the Count of Montecristo were actual people, living somewhere far away, never getting old. It didn’t get any better over the years and I clearly still have a thing for very bad love stories.

On Feb 9th, 2003, though, I bumped into a quiet romance. Brussels was still a cool city back then and I felt about to conquer the world, looking down at it with my 24 years old enthusiasm and confidence. I went to a photo exhibition in a fancy, international, coffee shop. And I found my husband. First time I went anywhere in the new city after moving.

Of course, I didn’t know it. It wasn’t love at first sight. I thought him plain, and boring. He already was husband material (in a Colin Firt-ish kind of way) and I needed the bad romance. I made a few poor choices on the way but he had the stubbornness to wait and a couple of years later we were married. I often look back and think how comes that you meet for the first time someone you’ll eventually marry and you don’t know. There are no signs, no bells, no serendipity elements.

Bad romances, on the other side, always come with an endless list of coincidences, signs, destiny calls and so on. All stuff your foggy brain probably makes up to shut down any residual logic you may still have.

If I ever have a daughter, I’ll tell her that. Don’t wait for a sign, don’t expect the bells. Beautiful gifts come unannounced.