Two years ago I made the decision to pack my bags in Die Paarl, and move to Cape Town. After looking for 2 months, I FINALLY found a teeny tiny flatlet in Sea Point. The flat was essentially just a big room – it didn’t even have a kitchen. But that tiny room was the beginning of something great.
The flat, okay let’s call it a room, was attached to the landlords’ penthouse. A very kind Jewish couple who invited me over for dinner all the time. During one of my first dinners at their house, a young guy showed up to fix their Internet and the Wi-Fi in my room. I spoke to this guy very briefly, so briefly that I only caught his first name: J–P.
I didn’t see him again until one night, about 6 months later, when my Wi-Fi stopped working. It was yet another brief encounter, but I managed to get crucial information: J–P was 35, but didn’t look a day over 28. (Read my article about dating an older man here.)
I thought that was it. I wouldn’t see this vampire ever again. But he had done a shitty job with fixing my Internet (which he swears was unintentional) (Whatever, UniFi’s buggy firmware.) and I saw him again a few days later. I’d had a long day, so when my landlords asked me to come over for a glass of wine – I came over for 4 glasses of wine. I was wearing a SMET hoodie and I pretty much looked like a wild raccoon. So of course that was the night that he decided to speak to me for longer than 20 minutes. (Uuuh you spoke to me, dronkie.)
We ended up talking on my stoep until about 24:00. Months later I would find out that he’d gotten the flu from standing in the cold for so long.(It lasted like two months!) I would also find out that he runs a business, and he hardly ever does home Internet himself. He’d done all of it as a favour to my landlord, whose insurance company is one of his clients, and he’d gotten a girlfriend out of the deal.
How did we go from broken Internet to being a couple?
J–P didn’t see my signals on our first encounter.
J–P didn’t see my signals on our second encounter.
J–P didn’t see my signals on our third encounter.
J–P didn’t see my signals on WhatsApp.
J–P lives on his own planet.
Eventually I got so gatvol that I stopped being subtle and just asked him out directly. Fast forward 2 years and we’re living together, just down the road from my first shoebox apartment.
Of course it hasn’t been smooth sailing all the way. The past 2 years have been tumultuous for me in terms of personal growth, mental health and my career. And at times it really took its toll on my personal life, and our relationship. I think for J–P it’s been challenging to repeat this phase of his life (Neeeeveeer) – he went through it 11 years ago, and has already learnt the lessons I am learning now. (Not frustrating at all.)
There have been many challenges for both of us.
We moved in together last year in August. From August to December we lived in a houseshare owned by his family. The house was big, old and beautiful. But we were living with 3 other adults, which wasn’t ideal for a couple. In January 2018 we moved into our own flat, and it changed everything. Every night is a sleepover with my favourite person. (What! Who?)
Having come from a tiny bachelor flat and then a houseshare – we didn’t have any furniture. (I don’t need furniture it’s a mission to move.) On our first night in our new flat we put the TV in the bedroom and bought McDonald’s, because we didn’t have cutlery or a couch. (Exactly, that could be every night. But nooo, someone wanted furniture.)
Even though we have vastly different personalities, (hers is annoying) we have an incredible symbiotic (parasitic) relationship. J–P knows I absolutely loathe cooking and that I have no interest in doing anything in the kitchen except eating (everything, seriously it never stops). So he cooks for us every night and on weekends he whips up epic breakfasts.
Some people find this bizarre, I am the woman so I should be cooking, right? Nonsense. J–P supports my career and he knows that between a full-time job, freelance work and running a blog – I just don’t have the time.
And he’s seen my cooking. He values his life. (True story.) (She will also burn herself on everything hot every time.)
Because of my career – I might not bring food to the table, but I bring rent. My independence is something we’re both very proud of. J–P has gone from wanting to die when I ask him to take a photo of me for my blog, to watching America’s Next Top Model with me to help me with my poses. (Maybe edit that bit out. I am not proud of knowing every conceivable way of hiding a huge forehead. Seriously stop trying to hide it!) He takes most of the photos for my blog, (pick your battles, pick your battles) and he was once chirped by a guy while we were doing a shoot. So, in true J–P fashion, he calmly clapped back: “It’s okay, dude. This paid for our dishwasher.”
Living together has had its weird moments, too. In those first months I had to wait for him to leave the house before I could make a poo. I just couldn’t do it. Eventually I asked him to turn the TV up while I’m in the loo, just to eliminate the stagefright.
Our neighbours heard a lot of really weird shouting in this period. Because being a troll, he would stop the show and narrate my toilet visit like an episode of Planet Earth 2.
I had to learn to let go of my stagefright.
I have also learnt it is completely possible to love (like) someone to the ends of the earth and to find them equally annoying at the same time. At the age of 36 (24) – J–P might be mildly deaf already (mmmm might need that drilled open, thanks wind and cold water), because the TV always has to be louder than a Ster-Kinekor cinema (do not come with that over priced AF popcorn) when I go to bed at night. And he has T-Rex arms that make him incapable of closing wardrobe doors. Every day when I get home from work it looks like the room had been ransacked, and when I asked him why he always has to leave EVERY SINGLE CLOSET DOOR open, he said: “I like my clothes to air.”
I’m perfect and nothing about me is annoying. Nothing. Not the fact that I like to monopolise conversation and talk about myself for an hour after work every night, (hour if I am lucky) or the fact that I get bored of every single show we start watching together. (Like WTF can we please finish one) Not even my shrill “We’re going to be late” voice. No, I’m absolutely perfect.
But even with all my flaws, he loves me. (Says who?) And he has stood by me through really tough times. When my insomnia started, it was a faceless demon to both of us. What followed was a very dark time in my life. But JP loved me every day. Every single day. Even when I didn’t love myself. (Sure as hell still loved to eat.)
I have one distinct memory from 2016, which will stay with me forever. In October 2016, after two months of no sleep – I lay awake at 3am in the morning, crying. JP, who had to endure so many of these nights, then took my face in his hands and started kissing the side of my head methodically. Over, and over, and over… I think he was so desperate at that stage that he didn’t know what to do anymore. (There was some chocolate on your face, it was late, I was hungry.) He had to go to work the next day and I was keeping him up, but instead of being angry at me, he focussed on making me feel better and getting me through the night. It was such a hopeless gesture, but it was filled with so much love (chocolate) that it calmed me down and eventually made me fall asleep. (I had to brush my teeth again.)
This is the person I love. (to torture) This weird adult child man who chops onions with his mountain biking goggles on. Who sometimes makes me so cross, I want to move back to Paarl. This guy with his kind heart and his beautiful lust for life.
Today we celebrate two years together, (oops forgot) and I can’t wait to see New York with you. (I cant wait to follow you around all day carrying everything and having to take photos all the time.) Thank you for supporting my dreams, for making me laugh and for not being on social media so that I can talk about you behind your back all the time.(they must come)
You’re my favourite Jean-Pant. (GG)
*Comments in red by JP. (I refuse to spell his name with a hyphen.)