How we met: ‘We misplaced contact for years – then ran into one another in Belgium’

How we met: ‘We misplaced contact for years – then ran into one another in Belgium’

As a pupil in 1989, Alicia went to Washington DC for an internship on the US Senate. “After six months, I prolonged my journey however I wanted a spot to remain,” she says. She moved to the Worldwide Scholar Home, a corridor of residence normally reserved for overseas college students. “Though I’m American, I managed to get a spot. It was a really enjoyable time; I might stroll to work in the course of the day and benefit from the nightlife within the night, in addition to communal meals with different college students.”

It was at one among these meals that she first met Bart, a medical pupil from Rotterdam who was engaged on some analysis on the Nationwide Institute of Psychological Well being. “I used to be dwelling with a number household,” he says, “however I had a buddy dwelling on the Worldwide Scholar Home, so I’d go there to hang around.”

That spring, a gaggle of scholars, together with Bart and Alicia, went on a picnic. “That was the place we actually related for the primary time,” says Alicia. “I believed Bart was a variety of enjoyable and so free-spirited. We’re each actually optimistic folks.” There was no romantic spark, however they rapidly grew to become good associates, hanging out collectively on the pupil home. “As I received to know her, I used to be struck by her unparalleled potential to make different folks really feel good,” says Bart.

A few months later, Bart went to the UK for an internship in Exeter, then one other in Seattle, earlier than returning to Europe to proceed his medical research. Alicia went again to school in Indiana to finish her diploma in languages and historical past. “I visited her on the best way again to the US and we stayed in contact by means of writing letters for 2 years,” says Bart.

They misplaced contact when Alicia completed college. “It was arduous to remain in contact as a result of we had been shifting round a lot. I went to South Africa, then to Japan in 1992 to show English, and Bart went to London.”

In 1995, Alicia received a Fulbright scholarship to show English in Antwerp, Belgium. “I keep in mind speaking to my mum, telling her that I didn’t have any associates there and was feeling lonely,” she says. “She advised me to simply keep constructive and it will occur.” It turned out to be good recommendation. That afternoon, she noticed her previous buddy Bart on the street. “He regarded so completely different; at first I wasn’t certain it was him,” she says. “The final I heard he was in England, and he regarded thinner, with no hair.” She determined to stroll again previous him a second time, simply to verify.

When Bart noticed Alicia strategy, he was additionally unsure as he thought she was nonetheless in Japan. “We immediately realised and we had been each so confused, asking one another what was occurring.” He advised her he was dwelling in Antwerp and dealing within the Netherlands. “He stated we should always get collectively for dinner that night time,” says Alicia. “After we met up, we simply talked and talked all night time. It was as if no time had handed.”

‘He’s an important listener’ … Alicia and Bart on the day of their reunion in Antwerp in 1995.

From then on they continued to satisfy up often, as a pair and with Bart’s then-boyfriend. Bart additionally helped Alicia to discover a new condominium. “I wanted to brighten it so we went to all these auctions and flea markets collectively.”

Alicia stayed for 2 years in Antwerp, earlier than going to Brussels the place she met her husband. They married in 1999 and Bart was the videographer at their wedding ceremony. Three years later, they moved to California and at the moment are settled in LA the place she works as an English lecturer and freelance author. Bart spent just a few years dwelling between the UK, Belgium and the Netherlands, earlier than settling completely in Amsterdam in 2008. He now lives together with his husband, whom he met in 2007, and works as a advisor psychiatrist. “Alicia was a witness at our wedding ceremony and gave a speech.” Regardless of the space between them, they often meet up in Europe and the US. “I go to them in Los Angeles – the climate is all the time wonderful and we go roller-skating down Venice seashore,” says Bart. “We each love inside design and structure, so we all the time attempt to go to locations to discover that.” He additionally has an important relationship with Alicia’s daughter, who was born in 2014.

Alicia appreciates her buddy’s enthusiasm for all times. “He might get excited a few piece of cheese. He has this limitless curiosity in his setting and what’s round him. He’s additionally very empathic, he’s an important listener,” she says. “I’ve misplaced my mom and father since realizing him and he’s all the time supported me. This friendship is likely one of the best joys in my life.”

Bart admires Alicia’s loyalty and stamina. “If she needs one thing, she’ll actually battle for it,” he says. “She has an infectious snicker and an irresistible smile. I don’t know anybody who lights up a room like she does.”

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