The StoryAccording to The House of Alex
"Stop being such a bunch of whiny brats" were the first words I ever heard her say. I fell in love immediately. Ok, not real love. Not yet. But I certainly knew I wanted to know this person more. She was addressing our journalism class. They were a bunch of whiny brats - yet again complaining about some deadline and their pathetic inability to meet it. I, in fact, had much harsher words on the tip of my tongue. But I didn't have the balls to speak up. Her no nonsense, and entirely accurate, remonstration was memorable. It spoke to everything I have come to adore about Laura. Her honesty, integrity, and point blank courage. I kept stealing glances across the large lecture hall in her direction for the rest of the period. She had a physical glow about her. But not having the courage she herself just demonstrated, I did nothing more than look - admiring an upright flower rising from a mound of apathy.
"Crikey! He's a big fella!" was the second thing I remember hearing her say. This time her words came out with a Steve Irwin accent. She was talking to me. We had been put in the same group for an inconsequential practical. Her presence had quickly made it much less inconsequential to me. We didn't know each other, but that sure as hell didn't stop her from firing off at me in a bad Steve Irwin accent. We laughed together as if old friends. Our first conversation spoken as if it we our hundredth. I may have fallen in love for real at this point. Maybe not. All I know for certain is that she had now firmly planted herself in my mind and my emotions, and wasn't about to budge anytime soon.
Not long after this Laura went overseas on exchange. Nothing had happened. Probably due to my cowardice. Upon her return I decided I had hung back long enough. So much so, that I decided, of all nights, to force the issue while she was dressed as the living dead. A zombie costume of some sorts, with fake blood all over her face. My signature uncool, fumbling demeanour didn't, luckily, completely scare her off, and we finally had our first kiss. Me trembling. Laura with her face covered in fake blood.
She lead me to the roof of the Eden Grove building, where we sat somewhat precariously staring out over Grahamstown. It was a warm evening. We spoke for hours on that roof. I have no recollection what about. The specific contents of the conversation didn't matter all that much.
We have since had many such conversations. Sitting close, facing outward, staring inward, side-by-side, in admiration of the world around us. We have enjoyed dusty road trips. Tiring hikes. Gentle strolls. Long paddles. None of which would hold much significance in my memory had I not shared them with Laura. I proposed to her while walking in our now familiar Cape Fynbos surrounds, offering her natural symbols of what she represents to me instead of a ring. A beautiful wild flower. A crystalline rock. A piece of life-giving grass.
Laura makes my world - the living earth around me - richer. She is my vibrancy filter.
— Read Laura's version
The StoryAccording to The House of Laura
A year after arriving in Grahamstown to study journalism, I started to get to know an interesting, tall, blonde-haired guy called Alex. We were on the same radio training programme. He wore his hair in a half-ponytail and used to cycle everywhere on his bike. He was funny, intelligent, intense and there were sparks from the start.
At the time, Alex used to work at one of the dodgiest - yet most popular - pubs in Grahamstown. What comes next has to be one of the more embarrassing moments of my varsity career - right up there with that time I split my pants on the dance floor. I saw Alex behind the bar and proceeded to make a complete fool of myself, flirting like only an overly confident inebriated 20 year old can. Turns out my timing was terrible. Alex had just started dating someone else and wasn't interested (or so I thought). I was mortified and vowed to avoid him at all costs.
We didn't see each other much for a long time after that. Particularly because for the first half of the following year I went to the Netherlands on exchange. Secondly because I had made such a spectacle of myself. For the time being, Alex was out of the picture.
Fast forward to the end of 2005 and I'm at a Halloween party, dressed like a zombie. Later that evening, I bump into Alex out in town. We start talking. And talking. We climb onto the roof of one of the lecture halls, looking at the lights of the town. We walk the streets, go from bar to bar until even they start closing. We have our first kiss. We talk through the night. And we haven't stopped talking since.
What follows is a seven-year love affair that has seen the roots of our love grow deeper as we've travelled the country, growing up, getting real jobs and figuring out how to navigate this complex and surprising planet together. Since those early days, which are still so clear in my mind, we've done all sorts of things together and moved... a lot. We've lived in Johannesburg, Pretoria (what was that about?), Paarl (again, what were we thinking?), Tamboerskloof and currently, Sea Point.
We've stayed in haunted houses with rooms full of dead bees. We've sat on hilltops and spent many hours locked deep in conversation. We've paddled up rivers and relaxed on the beaches of Thailand and Transkei. There've been bee-stings on the nose (Alex), walking into plate-glass windows (me). There've been cold nights and red wine. There's been a constantly evolving sound track.
And in April 2012, during a morning stroll in the mountains near Robertson, Alex popped the question with an eloquent and incredibly beautiful proposal. And I said yes.
What continues to amaze me is that, even after all these years, the best part of my day is knowing that when I get home either Alex will be there to welcome me or that shortly he will arrive, open the door and I know we will be spending another evening together.
— Read Alex's version