Walk #13: Alex

Walk #13, with: Alex (born 1975)

Date: 20 June 2016

Where: Antwerp, Belgium

I first met Alex in 2011 in Austria, from whence he hails. When he entered the room I was immediately struck by his good looks and energy. Since then our relationship has moved through several phases, partly in response to our individual transitions. Not having seen Alex for over a year I was particularly keen to spend some proper time with him in Antwerp where he now works (teaching German to undergraduates), riding 150km the day before in order to stay for two nights. I was therefore thrilled to find he'd taken the day off work. Rain reinforced our intention to loll about the flat all morning, drinking Alex's amazing homemade smoothies and continuing various ongoing threads of conversation about life, families, masculinity, sexuality, friendship, mental health and bicycles.

At lunchtime we ambled through cobbled streets under umbrellas to a local restaurant where Alex ordered a proper burger and I had a vol-au-vent with chicken and meatballs in a white sauce with 'frietjes'. We talked about the personal user guide I'd recently drafted, and what kinds of things Alex might include in his. We also talked about some ways we, as solo people, could support each other in relation to healthcare.

After our meal it was still raining so we strolled to a neighbourhood bar and sat under the shelter of an awning while we sampled a couple of Belgian beers. Alex is not much of a drinker but fortunately I was on hand to finish his beer as well as my own. The conversation moved to another frequent topic: where to live when you're queer and need community but don't like big cities. I wondered if Amsterdam might be a good place for Alex to try, particularly as he now speaks Flemish as well as English.

Next we dropped in to what I suppose you'd call an up-market women-oriented sex shop for me to get some lube, before strolling along the post-industrial riverside. Alex admitted that while he enjoys our intense conversations it would probably take him several days to recoup his energy.

Thank you Alex for hosting and feeding me, for taking the day off work, for always taking such an interest in my endeavours, and for your openness. Much love <3