How we met. In her words
WEDNESDAY, December 2 – A letter from M, Jennifer’s Swedish pen pal who’d sent copies of three letters Jenn had written when she was still living in America. The first one when she was just sixteen and in another, written when she was seventeen, she describes herself:
‘As a person, I’d describe myself as talkative, and for the most part an extravert. I enjoy speaking my mind, and sometimes I’m a bit too quick to say what I think, and I’d have done better to stop and think before opening my mouth. I’m independent, although I enjoy meeting new people. I laugh a lot and I want to be happy.’
Yep, that was Jennifer all right.
There is another letter, dated June 10, 1991, in which Jenn tells M what happened when she and I first laid eyes on one another.
‘Tim was waiting for me in Brussels, and he was carrying a red rose. Would you believe it, I had no idea what he looked like. He recognized me from the photos. Well, less than 24 hours later we were head-over-heels in love. Actually we were already in love, but this time I saw him IN THE FLESH, and that was so much better. He’s fabulous, very sweet, friendly, mature (he’s 26, and that really makes a difference), and a perfect gentleman. And what’s more, he’s just so fun to be with. We had a super busy week.’
Yep, that was the beginning, eighteen years ago.
The fourth letter was dated November 11, 1994. She had already returned to the United States, after a stay with me in Amsterdam that lasted just under three years. Several months before, I had resigned from the newspaper, De Volkskrant, in preparation for my move to New York City, to be with Jennifer.
‘Tim will be with me forever, when he arrives in America on Christmas Eve. Aren’t we romantic? For the moment, we’re going to spend a year in America, and then see how things work out. Just between the two of us, I can add that there’s a good chance that a year from now we’ll be married, or at least engaged. We’ve already discussed this, earlier this year when Tim came over. With all the confusing and chaotic aspects that make up my life, Tim is one of the few factors that I’m proud of. He gives me security and confidence, and that’s where I find strength and courage.’
Yep, a year later we got engaged, on Christmas Day. It was the beginning of a marriage that would follow the classic route of happiness combined with tribulations.
Along the way there were high points and low points which I’ll be writing about later on, but not yet, not here. For the moment, I simply cherish Jenn’s letters to M, and what she says about herself, about me, about us.
It’s heartwarming to read what was important to her, how our life together was taking shape, how much she was looking forward to the future. Even more important was the fact that it was all genuine, just the way I experienced it back then, and the way I remember it now. She was quite simply a good person who knew how to make other people happy.