The Story of Us

The story of us | Life After Elizabeth

“With the spirit of Valentine’s Day in the air,
and their anniversary running near,
I present to you the story of Mathieu & Kimberly,
it is one that will surely go down in history.
Not just because they met on an app,
But because it happened long ago, way before all that!”

Mathieu and Kimberly met the way many millennials meet nowadays: online.

For Kimberly, meeting her future husband on an app was not exactly the romantic love story she’d envisioned.

She, like many of her peers, was raised with implausible fairy-tale stories created by Disney. As a young girl, she imagined all the many romantic ways Prince Charming would arrive in her life. Maybe she’d cross paths with him in a park as their dog’s leashes got tangled up in each other, forcing them together. Or perhaps she’d lock eyes on her soon-to-be husband as he danced on an old ship with his fluffy sheepdog, only to rescue him moments later from a horrible shipwreck.

There was just no Disney equivalent story of romantically matching online to refer to. (Other than the Tinderella story – a very sarcastic take on modern dating culture by CollegeHumour. Parental discretion advised).

Alas, their story may not involve tangled up dog leashes or mute mermaids saving strange men from shipwrecks. Instead, their story is unique in that it began long before they matched online. It started way back in Beijing before they even knew each other existed. The two of them were living parallel lives, one following the other, almost crossing paths, until that one humid summer day in February when they both swiped right…

In 2010, Mathieu was living in his hometown of Paris, France. He was in his final year of university and had the opportunity to go on exchange anywhere in the world to finish his degree. While staring pensively at the Eiffel Tower, he swallowed the remainder of his buttery croissant and thought to himself, “zut alors! Je veux allez en Chine!”

Thus, he arrived triumphantly in smoggy Beijing as a gung-ho 23-year-old, ready to party hard and experience everything the city had to offer. Fast-forward two years of intense partying and a bit of studying later, he realised his body needed a rest. By April 2012, he and his Aussie girlfriend at the time decided to pack their bags and move to Perth, Australia.

At around the same time, on the side of the world in Canada, Kimberly was in her final year of university and craving an adventure. Exactly a year after Mathieu left for Australia, Kimberly flew to China to live with her father who conveniently lived right up the road from where Mathieu used to live. However, after two and a half years of living the life of pretty much every ‘laowai’ that sets foot in Beijing, she too knew it was time to leave. With a bit of deliberation and a whole lot of courage, she packed her two heavily overweight suitcases that cost a fortune in overweight fees and made her way for a new life in the land down undah.

Finally, the two of them were on the same continent, but on opposite ends. They were getting closer…

As Kimberly was sorting out her new life in Sydney, Mathieu was in Perth pondering the thought of moving across country. A year later, his work transferred him to Sydney and he was out apartment hunting in Bondi. Meanwhile, Kimberly was in the middle of moving out of her chic Bondi apartment to find regional work up north. A month later Kimberly was off living in a yoga community in Byron Bay and lo and behold, Mathieu found the perfect place, right up the road from where she used to live.

As 2016 winded down, the two of them prepared for the new year in a very similar way. Kimberly was in the remote fishing town of Bicheno in Tasmania with her Father, and Mat was in the small volcanic town of Taupo in New Zealand with his parents. Both of them single, hanging out with their parents on New Year’s Eve, wondering, “will I ever meet that special person?”

At last, on a beautiful summer day in February, the stars aligned. They matched on a dating app called Bumble and quickly discovered they had both lived in Beijing. They also found out that both of them were familiar with the diplomatic lifestyle as both of Mathieu’s parents were children of diplomats, just like Kimberly. After messaging all day, Kimberly had a dinner planned that night with friends in Darling Harbour.

She texted him when the dinner was over asking if he happened to be around for a quick drink?

Yes, he told her. In fact, he was just up the street.

With that, they agreed to meet by the docks. They spent the evening tucked in a quiet bar with so much to catch up on. It was almost as if they’d known each other this whole time, waiting for the moment to cross paths.

It was a familiar uniting, the kind that says, “ah, there you are! I missed you. How have you been?”

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