Here, Emmy, 41, tells the story in her own words.
F￼inding a bench, I sat down and admired the view. In a square in Amsterdam, I was surrounded by historic buildings and bustling restaurants. I was due to meet a friend for dinner but was 10 minutes early. Then a man came and sat down next to me. ‘What time is it?’ he asked.‘Ten to seven,’ I replied. I could tell by his badly worn clothes, knotted beard and dirty fingernails that he was homeless. But from that very first contact, I felt chemistry between us.
For the next 10 minutes we chatted non-stop. I found out that his name was Vic and he was 25. At 197cm tall and with deep brown eyes, he immediately seemed attractive to me. Vic certainly didn’t act like he was homeless, he was so confident! He’s five years younger than you and lives on the street! I told myself, pushing aside romantic thoughts. When my friend arrived, I said goodbye to Vic. ‘Saturday, 3pm, the same bench,’ he said before walking away.
Over the next week I couldn’t stop thinking about him. He’s so intriguing, I thought. Happily single and having landed a three-week freelance job working on a film in Amsterdam, my life was good. So, six days after meeting Vic, I found myself sitting back on that same bench. After 20 minutes of waiting, he hadn’t arrived. Just as I was thinking about giving up, Vic came towards me. What am I doing here? I wondered. But I couldn’t stop smiling. For the next six hours as we walked and talked, I discovered Vic had become homeless after arriving from his native Canada and running out of money. ‘I’ve been living on the street for six months,’ he told me. ‘At the moment I’m living under a bush in the park.’ He had no qualifications to his name and very little education. By contrast, I had a university education and spoke five languages. We’re polar opposites, I said to myself.
But instead of being ashamed of his situation, Vic had an infectious zest for life. The only thing that did worry me was his drinking. Vic said that in order to sleep on an uncomfortable park bench or on the cold ground, he needed to drink. He even carried around a tattered briefcase with his sleeping bag and cans of beer inside. But underneath it all, I realised that Vic was an amazing person. Following my heart and not my head, we had our first kiss. After that initial date, we met up three more times. But three amazing weeks later, I was due to go back to Vienna, Austria, where I was living at the time. Despite his situation, I could feel myself falling in love with Vic. ‘Here’s my phone number,’ I told him with a kiss. Realistically though, he didn’t even have a phone. I’ll probably never see him again I thought, with a heavy heart.
As I settled in back at home, Vic was never far from my mind. I’ve fallen in love with a man who lives under a bush, I realised. Then three weeks later, Vic called me out of the blue. ‘I’m in Vienna,’ he said. I couldn’t believe it. My love had found me! As crazy as it sounds, Vic moved into my apartment straight away and we became an item. Spending every day with him was mesmerising. Incredibly funny and charming, he had me constantly smiling. Sadly, not everyone felt the same way. Introducing him to my friends, many couldn’t look past Vic’s homelessness and heavy drinking and stopped speaking to me. Some were supportive, though. ‘I love him!’ said my bestie Rebecca. My parents loved him, too. But I chose not to tell them he used to be homeless as I didn’t want him to face that stigma. Vic’s drinking was still a problem and often he’d start the day with a can of beer. It wasn’t easy but over time he stopped drinking and began studying engineering. Two years after we met, Vic and I got married, and two years later our adorable twins Desta and Til, now seven, were born.
Today, we’re much like any other boring married couple. After studying hard for five years, Vic now works as a mechanical engineer and is
a wonderful father. When we’re asked the inevitable question, ‘So how did you two meet?’ our story always provokes conversation. So, four years ago, I decided to write my book, How To Fall In Love With A Man Who Lives In A Bush.
I often ask Vic why he came over to speak to me that day and he says it was because I was beautiful and looked contented with life. Before I met Vic, homeless people were invisible to me. But now I know that it could happen to anyone. Next time you see a homeless person, maybe strike up a conversation with them and buy them a cup of coffee or something to eat. You don’t have to marry them like I did! I never imagined that this would happen to me but I’m glad it did.
Emmy Abrahamson’s book ‘How To Fall In Love With A Man Who Lives In A Bush’ is available on Amazon.
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