Marie is a freelance writer for technology companies. Andrej is a programmer who spends 12 hours a day in front of his computer. This Valentine’s day they celebrate 15 years of coming together, surprisingly, in Vienna. From their terrace in the 2nd district of Vienna, year by year, they prepare for the occasion in the same style: with Dutch waffles and Slovak Lángos.
Neither I nor Marie has planned to share a flat that happened to be our office, our home, and our center of the world. And most of all, we didn’t plan to be in Austria for so long.
They met in Vienna during New Year’s Eve in front of the city hall. Marie was visiting her sister which was on Erasmus in Vienna, and Andrej drove over with friends especially to enjoy the Viennese winter celebrations. In the mass of people, they happened to stand next to each other, and the joyous mood and the hot punsch got them talking…for what ended to be the entire night. As the sun rose in the new year, they were still walking around Vienna, none of them wanting to be the one to say goodbye first.
On the same day, they decided to be adventurous and, as they were both able to work as freelancers, set out to rent a flat in Vienna for the month of February. The new year’s resolution turned into a real plan: by the 4th of January, when Marie had to fly back to Rotterdam, they knew they would see each other again in less than a month, as flatmates.
It was not really out of a romantic feeling. It just felt like a good year for such an adventure. Andrej had already the flat reserved for himself for 2 weeks, so there was no problem extending it for another 2. There was enough space and he saw the practicality of sharing the rent. I think we both regarded it more like two freelancers hanging out and ending the day playing strategy games and didn’t imagine this could turn into something more.
As February was starting, the most unlikely roommates met again in Vienna and had no issue jumping into new routines. Their work schedules were so similar and also all their interests, and getting to know each other came easier than expected. On Valentine’s Day, they shared their first kiss, which still up to this day they blame the other one for. And also started discussing if this type of arrangement could go for a bit longer. They both knew they needed a middle point such as Vienna. In Slovakia, the language would prove to be a barrier and Andrej’s home town was a bit too far away from an airport. The Netherlands could be a good option, but Andrej wanted to be just a drive away from his mother who had an unstable health situation. By the end of February, they were discussing with the flat owner if they could prolong their rent by another 3 months. And from 3 months, it turned into a year, and then 2 more years, and then another 2.
We discovered we had settled here, to our surprise, by our 5th anniversary. We didn’t feel there was any other place better for our life situation than here. And we never stopped to think if this would be permanent or just temporary. I think we are just the type of people who don’t like having discussions involving the word ‘forever’. We just adapt as we go.
Looking back, their love story endured because they were both so easy going. Andrej never had the attitude Marie imagined Eastern European men would have, about being possessive and wanting a family. And Marie had charmed her way through being focused on her work and a pure joy to be around. Both a bit shy, but both adventurous and independent, they are most proud that they have never overcomplicated any situation.
If we need to discuss anything for more than 2 minutes on a negative attitude, we know we are not yet at the point of solving it. So we just postpone it. And what I still like most about Marie is her easy-going attitude which I always admired in a girl. But what we are most proud of is how we managed to thrive in such an unlikely intercultural relationship.
We wish you all the best and many more anniversaries to come in beautiful Vienna!