Distance makes the Heart grow fonder

Bal 8Life is tremendously ironic, don’t you think? It always seems you get what you least expect, when you least expect it. Luckily, that’s often for the best, as this story seems to prove.

Michael 26, Austrian with Polish origins, and Anne-Sophie 25, half French and half German, meet in Nancy, France in 2010, when both were pursuing their undergraduate degree.

“He was a year above me, and I had just moved into a flat with two really good friends of his, both of whom I had never met before.” With this, Anne-Sophie, reminds me that destiny always seems to play a part in the choices we make.

It didn’t take long for things to blossom. Active time spent in the company of mutual friends and traveling, gave space, or perhaps spark, for more. Eventually, the two became official in March of 2011.
As their story officially took off, there was only one rather large elephant in the room: Russia. Yes, because Sciences Po has it so that a year abroad is a fundamental component of the curriculum. This meant that Michael first, followed by Anne-Sophie, would both be required to leave France and explore another city. Any young couple might have been easily discouraged, or even defeated by the thought.

However, it doesn’t take long to notice that Michael and Anne-Sophie, as individuals, but especially as a pair, are far from average. It took them one meaningful conversation to tackle the prospects: two years of long distance, then they would meet again in Paris for their master’s degree, and who knows, maybe one day they would marry?

“How did you keep in touch then? Skype? Whatsapp?” I assumed quite naively.
“Yes! Sometimes, 7, 8 pages long.”

What a meaningful gesture. I’ve always found that words, chosen truthfully and with care, are so powerful. What’s more though are words written by hand, thoughts laid out between swirls and spaces; ones that cannot easily be erased or deleted.

From Russia to Nancy, to Kiev to Brussels to Rome, 2 years flew by. In fact, it was while Anne-Sophie was spending her year abroad in Rome, that Michael took the opportunity to complete a 2 months internship at Radio Vatican to begin to close the geographical gap between them. I start to wonder if Rome’s magic played a role in complementing their story. It’s one of those cities that inspires you, that moves you. Let alone if you’ve chosen it as the place to reconnect with your Love.

With a little bit of luck on their side, they decided to apply to the College of Europe. They both got accepted to go in September. Meanwhile, they got married last June in Northern Germany, by the Baltic Sea.
“What’s the plan after this?”
“Brussels” they say convinced.
“Maybe one big happy family,” Michael jokes.
“Dogs? Cats”
“Dogs” he confirms.
“But only one,” she specifies.

The inner workings of their relationship are so complementary to one another. They’re in sync, in the way they are separate, but also together. The way that they reason as a team, even through just an ordinary conversation like this one.

I ask him how he would best describe her and he reminisces over a story Anne-Sophie once told him about an elderly woman from southern Italy who claimed she was “dolce, ma con carattere:” sweet, but with strong character. And if you ever have had the chance to meet her, Anne-Sophie is very much that way (good intuition, grandma!) – elegant and poised, yet determined. In return, I ask her what she most likes about him and other than his enthusiasm for everything. She talks about his ability to always seek compromise. “He’s my best friend. We talk and laugh about everything and find in fact, that we are partners in crime. It’s the best feeling – to have married your best friend.”

There’s little more comforting or admirable than this. The idea that Love doesn’t demand for extremes. That rather, there is space for mutual understanding, acceptance, and compromise. And when found, that road seems to be the most promising and certainly, the most loving yet!


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