I came to Cambridge thinking that if I was ever going to find love, which I highly doubted, it would be here. As it happened, I did meet someone in Cambridge, but not in the way you might think.
On a February weekend, around the time I was running for JCR LGBT+ Rep, my college neighbour had a friend over from home. I met them as they arrived, had dinner with them and my neighbour that night, and they came along to JCR election hustings. They were quiet and didn’t really make a big impression on me, apart from the fact that I was told they were also very queer.
They left Cambridge the next day and I went on with my life. Then, on the first day of the Easter holidays, I got a message from my neighbour saying, ‘You’ve got an admirer’. My neighbour then cryptically told me that someone had called me ‘the most beautiful person they’d ever seen’. It was her friend. I was shocked. This is not the kind of thing that happens in real life. And if it does, it’s the kind of overly loving line that your parents whip out when you’re feeling particularly desolate, not something a stranger says about you. I had never been told anything like it, and I was intrigued. Very intrigued. So intrigued, in fact, that around the same time next day, I was on the tube, heading to the bookshop where they worked.
When I arrived in front of the bookstore, I quickly walked past it. I sat on a bench, quizzing myself, ‘What the hell am I doing? I barely know this person, why am I here?’ I shook my head before dramatically getting up and walking over to the shop again. As I stood in front of it, I saw them by the till, smiling away at a customer.
Dread. Stomach-churning nervousness.
I walked past the store again. I walked back toward the tube station, thinking that this whole trip had been a stupid whim, and that I was being delirious. Then I turned around, and as I found myself in front of the bookshop yet again, I stepped in.
I was so nervous that I determinedly walked right past them, before exploring every corner of the shop, carefully avoiding them until I could find a moment to ‘spontaneously’ bump into them. When I finally bucked up the courage to meet their eyes, they seemed surprised to see me – but they weren’t. What I didn’t know was that my neighbour had told them that I would be showing up, and, even more embarrassingly, they had seen me the moment I came in, observing my not-so-discreet avoidance manoeuvre. We talked for a bit and they sold me a book, a copy of Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body. A book that I had picked out, hoping that they would get the hint. It turned out they had already read some Winterson, and I was ecstatic. I left the bookshop full of adrenaline and smiled all the way back to the station.
I headed home to Denmark the next day, and in the following weeks, we talked to each other constantly, moaning about how we would have to wait an entire month before being able to spend time together. I had never felt anything as intense, and I desperately wanted to see them again. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait that long. Three weeks after I saw them at work, they walked out of arrivals at Copenhagen Airport and kissed me. A real-life grand romantic gesture.
We had our first date that evening, and spent the loveliest few days together.
We’ve been together for nine months now.