“We drink tea and quietly read a book – the contrast to my previous relationship could not have been greater”

Photo by Max Kessmann

Hans (68): I knew her from the tennis club. She had beautiful legs but she was married to a horrible man so I automatically assumed she was horrible too. This aversion was mutual. During a match, I noticed my ridiculously fanatical game. I was well ahead and enthusiastically continued trying to increase my progress. Always wanting to win, she looked at her in complete amazement. No, we don’t have anything in common.

When asked about a board of directors and inquired about other board members, it was revealed that she was the chairwoman of the board. For a moment I thought not to. And she seemed to have said: Hans, I don’t like it very much. But it is about an association of seventy people with intellectual disabilities. They were entitled to a well-functioning government. So I allowed myself to be convinced. And as time passed, I came to appreciate it more and more. She managed the meetings with a heavy hand, but let everyone finish, she could listen. There was something practical and down-to-earth about her. Usually not qualities you can wake me up for, but very effective for a chairman.

Just cycling, nothing else

She had some calmness and order that I suddenly loved so much. Whether my experience with a woman a few years ago had anything to do with it, I don’t know. I knew the convincing and exhilarating all-or-nothing relationship of the time made me feel a deceptive sense of being alive again. But it actually brought me to the brink. I knew one thing for sure when I came back to myself a little bit around my 60th birthday: Never again would a relationship be like a crazy merry-go-round, swinging through sex, bickering and intense reconciliations.

I wanted to rest. Then it turned out that the president and I had sport bikes. I asked her to spend the afternoon in the dunes of North Holland. Just cycling, nothing else, I made it clear right away. She was now divorced and had no plans of love. But she loved cycling. She taught me how to plan a trip so that you would have the wind against you on the way out and with you on the way back, and when we relaxed in the dunes, she proved to be an unbiased listener. Nobody takes over the conversation. It was nice and balanced.

Always clear and correct

We talked about everything, but not talking was also nice. Sometimes she biked a little forward, sometimes she did. It was nice that we felt free to do so. And to my surprise, after about three trips, I’m starting to fall in love a bit. I said one day: “I think you are a very nice woman.” She replied, “I also think you’re a very nice guy, but I don’t want a relationship.” Dear President, always clear and correct.

Once we stopped in the dunes, I pulled out a bottle of wine, the weather was nice and it seemed like a good time to have an arm around her, but she hastily backed away. Without further ado, we sipped our wine.

Meanwhile, we continued to meet, and our activities expanded to visiting the cinema together. My hope grew, I couldn’t help it. Again I sent a message: If I’m home, I’ll come and have coffee. And again I thought: who would ask such a thing? This must be the hack. But she didn’t care, she was just the one having coffee and chatting. I then told her via the app, “It’s good that you were there, but sometimes I have a hard time giving myself an attitude, sorry.” “I would have liked it to have been different, too,” she responded by texting. But the coffee was delicious, and I’m looking forward to the final. By this she meant: the tennis final in which we will compete with the first seed in the doubles match.

The thorns receded

A few months later, I thought my crush was getting a little pathetic and decided to take a step back when she suddenly sent me an email in the middle of the night. Her thorns have retracted, and she has said goodbye to her thorns. Despite the bad experiences in her marriage, she still wanted to try with me.

For five months I had advanced against my better judgement, or rather, beaten a dead horse, and then, on the fourth day of September, the first kiss came gently. It was at my house, the tennis final was postponed because of the rain and she decided to come to me. Her visit didn’t last long, she was still fairly reserved and I didn’t want to be too bold right away. But like butterflies in love, we managed to knock our opponents off the track after a few days.

Tea with gingerbread

That was seven years ago now, and since then we’ve been together every weekend. Friday evening I go to her, because she has a bigger house. We read a lot. I read last weekend love marriage From monica ali and i part two of M by Antonio Skorati. She is stretched out on the couch and I am sitting in a chair across from her. We drink tea, eat gingerbread cookies with him and sometimes let each other know what we find cool or funny. The contrast with my previous relationship couldn’t be greater. Then we held each other hostage in the extreme and rode in the vodka haze by train across the vastness of Siberia, and now the holiday goes to Denmark. Of course on the bike.

One photo from last summer still haunts me. I didn’t know it in advance either, but there are challenging hills in Denmark and where I used to always be the first to the top, in recent years I’ve had to watch them overtake me more and more. Likewise this time. Quietly she waited for me upstairs. I laughed as I reached a fiery cursing. “Dude, don’t swear like that, save your energy for cycling itself.” She said it without any annoyance, curtly and amusingly. We are not one, nor do we strive to be. This gives calmness and freedom, which is more satisfying than any previous passion.

At the interviewee’s request, Hans’ name was changed.

a call

For this column and podcast of the same name, Corine Koole is looking for stories about all kinds of modern relationships, people of all ages and all preferences.

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