Sixteen

JOELIX.com | Red poppies and a true love story

I'm a sucker for romance and happy couples. Not in a candle light & roses kind of way, but for simple and real love. Ever since seeing this video by Stylelikeu earlier this year, I wondered if it would be too personal to share our own love story here, but then: this world never has enough love and I believe I have a beautiful story to tell. So here we go 🙂

Our love story starts in the Netherlands exactly sixteen years ago, at the end of May 1998. A few months earlier, my family and I were hooked up to the internet, which was a big deal to me and my sister. The first thing we did, was find out how to get into a chatroom, because we heard you could actually talk to people from all over the world in there. We learned about IRC channels and Microsoft comic chat (which is a lot like Bitstrips today). And it worked! We spoke with people from the US, Mexico, Australia and Europe. We were hooked! In a few months the world became so much closer. And bigger at the same time.

JOELIX.com | Red poppies and a true love story

One day at the end of May, while I was unwinding from exam stress (I was graduating high school) I virtually bumped into this French photographer who lived in Nice. I was planning to go to Art School after high school and was very much into everything artsy, so we talked about his photography. In French. One of the chatroom moderators noticed and complimented me on my French and we started talking. Why I spoke French, why he was fluent in French, why I was stressed about the exams, why he was still at work at night. We didn't exchange A/S/L (age, sex, location), which was very common in those chatrooms. I just knew his (or her!) nickname.

From the very first moment we chatted, there was something there. A sparkle, mutual curiosity, virtual attraction, I don't know what to call it, but it felt very special. In one of our conversations we exchanged postal adresses and I sent him a card telling him that it felt so special and that I was looking forward to getting to know him more. A few days later I asked him (still in that chatroom) if he received my card. And then nothing but silence… he didn't reply for 30 minutes… 45… by the time I expected him to never speak to me again, he replied. He ran out of the door immediately after I mentioned the card, down the stairs to his postbox at the entrance of the building. And of course slammed the door and forgot to take the keys. He had to climb back into his apartment via his neighbor's balcony. But he loved the card.

In the pre-mobile era, it wasn't as obvious to exchange photos of ourselves. That's why I lay my head on a flatbed scanner at a friend's house and send him the scan. He sent me some proper scans of himself and his kids & cats. We wrote letters, sent emails, chatted, called each other on the phone and fell deeply in love. After two weeks we decided we just HAD to meet. I was 17, he was 30, which worried my parents (obviously) although they trusted me.

JOELIX.com | Red poppies and a true love story

We met in the center of the Netherlands, at the Central Station of Utrecht, right under the arrival & departure board. I was and hour early, he was 15 minutes late. So I spent some time people watching, and soon imagined every dark man walking towards me to be "him".  But when our eyes met, I knew. We hugged and I gave him my customized inflatable Eiffeltower (what was I thinking?!). I remember I didn't like his clothes, but he smelled very nice.

We spent the entire weekend at his home on the beach (in The Hague). He cooked for hours and we ate (it was all very delious, he's such a great cook). We talked and kissed and talked some more. We went for a walk along the beach, had hot cocoa and were very much in love. At the end of the weekend I didn't want to leave, but had to. On the train back home I cried. I graduated two days later and he came to celebrate with my entire family and friends. The moment he walked through the door at my parents', my parents understood why I was so in love with this "older" guy. The ones that didn't understand were other parents at the parties we attended to celebrate the end of high school. They asked him if his kid passed exams too 😉

JOELIX.com | Red poppies and a true love story

A few weeks later he had to go on a business trip to Paris and invited me to come along. My third time in the city was magical. We drank big bowls of café au lait, walked along all the hotspots (Eiffeltower, Arc de Triomphe, Champs Elysées, Tuileries), visited the Musée d'Orsay where we admired Monet and Manet. I remember when we stood in line for tickets, the man behind the desk complimented my boyfriend because of his super young girlfriend. The French are so subtle 😉 We picknicked in the music kiosk in the Jardin du Luxembourg and while munching on some fromage and baguette, he spontaneously asked me if I wanted to become his wife. I said yes. We kissed and had more wine.

Two years later we were married in the beautiful village of Collobrières in the South of France (some pictures here). And sixteen years later we live in France, together with our three silly cats and still love each other so very much. Sometimes you just know! <3

And why the poppies? They are my favorite flowers, that blossom right at this time of the year, when we first met. They're everywhere, strong yet fragile, bright and colorful. And once you pick them, the leaves tend to fall. Of course I had some (fake ones) in my wedding bouquet too.

JOELIX.com | Red poppies and a true love story

So… I love me some good love stories, who wants to share next?

30 thoughts on “Sixteen

  1. I love to read your story Judith. I'm sort of romantic as well and I love to hear and read about other people love stories. “Coquelicots” (isn't it such a beautiful word by itself?) are among my favourite flowers. Thank you for sharing your romance :-) je t'embrasse i.

    1. Merci Ilaria! Oui, coquelicot is such a pretty word for a poppy (which isn't so bad either!). We're a bunch of romantic souls, aren't we?! xx

  2. One of my favourite love stories! I loved hearing it directly from you and I loved reading it here as well. Now whenever I see a poppy I'll think of you guys as well.

    The first time I met Tom we were at a university party and he was in the middle of the dance floor (alone) dancing to Staying Alive. I asked the person next to me who the weirdo was and they replied “Oh that's Tom the crazy Belgian”. The rest is history (we'll be married 14 years in a few weeks).

    1. Hahahaha such an hilarious story! That crazy Belgian turned out to be a great guy and a super cool dad who rides a unicycle! And how funny we share our “wedding year”! Hope to see you all soon :)

  3. One word~beautiful! I love that you are sharing this more personal side of your life, it is one of the most loving things to do….to share the love. I appreciate your story so much, Judith. Every time I see a poppy I will think of you and your beloved. Much love, Jocelyn xx

    1. Thanks a lot Jocelyn! It took me moment to decide whether I wanted to share this here, but then of course: some things just need to be shared. Especially love! Oh and do poppies grow in Arizona too? xx

  4. Oh my heart. Yes I really do love hearing love stories and especially those stories that are lived for years and years. Thank you for sharing this and those happy poppies. You made me smile (silly on a plane). ;)

    1. And then I realized I should have told this in video! Very happy it made you smile (even on a plane ;) where to?). Hope to see you again soon, Kat! xx

  5. I love everything (EVERYTHING) about this story! Including the inflatable Eiffel Tower, because it's exactly the kind of gift I would have given as a girl fresh out of high school, haha. I also have to admire your parents for trusting you. Thank you for sharing Judith, the two of you are so lucky to have found each other!

    1. Thanks Deepa! Yes, I feel extremely lucky! And I'm happy it's something that we share as well: having a loving husband in our lives (that loves to cook!!). It's the best! bisous!

  6. I don't always comment on your posts (do read all of them), but I absolutely loved this story! Even though I've heard it and 'was there when it happened', it still warms my heart. I'm glad my dad met you, and secretly surprised he was so romantic! You both have been and still are a great example of an amazing marriage. Maybe in sixteen years I'll have a story like yours! I sure hope so <3.

    1. Awww so so sweet, Rose! Your dad is such a romantic soul! And whatever love story you'll tell in 16 years from now, I'm sure it will be beautiful! You'll know when you know <3

  7. Wow, what a story! <3!!!
    Our story isn't half as romantic as this ;) but you're right about the 'you'll know when you know' part. We did too.
    XO

  8. Now you mention it, yes I was. Never really thought about it, but there weren't many girls indeed. I was so shy, so for me it was a nice way to talk to people, and yes guys ;) I loved the sense of community back then. It's still around these days, just in a different way I guess.

  9. Hi Judith, what a story! I totally understand falling in love even before meeting each other. The power of words is immense :-) and how funny that fax idea! I also lived my love in the pre-mobile era you know? well, even the pre-internet era to say the truth. I had to travel about 1500 km away from home to meet my perfect mate, but so happy I did anyway! ;-)
    xx

    1. We are so lucky that we found our lovely guys, right?! Did you manage to keep up a long distance relation or did one of you decide to move very quick? Have a great weekend, Stefania. With both your boys ;)

  10. Oh, I loved reading that story, it's really special! You seem like such a great couple to me just from the pictures I've seen of the two of you, and this story is another proof!
    I have a very romantic story to tell, too, next time we meet you're going to hear it…

    1. Ohhhhh you made me so curious, Lena! Very much looking forward to hearing all about it next time we meet. I'll be patient ;) And thank you for your kind words!

  11. Beautiful and romantic, Juith!
    Isn't it true you can feel the person on the other side of the chat?
    I met my husband online also an there is 19 years difference between us. And we are still crazy in love :)
    I loved your simple and local wedding bouquet :), it couldn't be more pretty and sweet.
    hugs and much love

    1. Oh wow! So happy that I'm not the only one! At the time it was pretty rare, but with dating sites and Tindr and so on, it's the most common thing :D And I agree, you can totally feel the other person when you're talking online. Choice of words, sentences, pauses… Continue to be crazy in love, it's the best feeling, Anastasia! And thanks for the compliments on my wedding bouquet! Bisous!

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