the fuller story is that we actually dated for around half a year, and since have stayed friends. though of course there was that whole initial awkward stage, we got over it. the even more fuller story is that we actually met online through what i'm going to call a "pen-pal" site cause that HONEST TO GOD AND GOD KNOWS I MEAN THAT is what i was using it for, but really i suppose other people do use it as a dating, and still others as a hookup site too. anyway though, hans's profile, unsurprisingly now, was funny--real tongue-in-cheek LOADED WITH PUNS sort of humor, which i have always had an appreciation for, and which, i now know, is almost excessively classic hans--and somehow it all, his profile that is, read as incredibly kind and considerate too. so i wrote him, making clear i was only looking for pen-pals, and he wrote back, happy to have a pen-pal too. but then after pen-paling for several weeks, somehow his kind hearted, intellectually inquisitive, humorous persona made me feel comfortable enough to talk on the phone with him, and then eventually, as these things go, it turned out i was comfortable enough, we decided to meet in person. and here's the real clincher of the charm, in case the clincher hasn't clinched you already--to meet for the very first time this woman he'd been pen-pals with for a while he brought homemade cookies. cookies HE'D MADE just for the occasion. and the cookies he made were all alluding to his ethnic heritage, and also slightly unusual, and also were FLOWER shaped, so that by the end of meeting him for the first time he'd done this brilliant job of illustrating all the very reasons i'd decided to be pen-pals with him to begin with, and all the reasons we decided to meet in person too-- his thoughtful, kind, slightly humorous, super smart thoughtfulness all in the guise of a cookie. cause the thing was we'd talked about ethnicity, we'd talked about baking, and it would have been inappropriate to bring flowers since it was in no way a date, but there he was bringing flower shaped cookies. so all these various levels of thoughtfulness were all right there in one considerate gesture. it's a treasure to find someone capable of such things, whatever they turn out to become in your life.
hans and i have, gratefully, kept in contact these couple of years since we dated. we were lucky enough too to share incredible grace in the process of deciding not to date anymore. when he and i stopped seeing each other i explained to a friend that the way we broke up reaffirmed all the reasons we'd dated to begin with, even if it was still going to be the end of the romantic portion of our relationship --he is a good person and he consistently shown incredible generosity both to me and my daughter, and from what i can tell with all his friends too. i've come to discover that hans is one of those people that's brilliant at staying long-term friends with people, whether they continue to stay in the same town or not, and he also consistently stays friends with ex-girlfriends--both those things say a lot about his consideration for others, AND the sense of constancy and reliability others feel from him. when my sister and niece visited a couple of years ago, hans found out that my sister and i were planning to attend an event we realized kids couldn't go to too so hans offered to baby sit. he took them to the zoo and the two kids had more fun with hans than they'd been having with their moms. no doubt. at the end of the whole thing he tried to leave without so much as a ride home, determined to hang out with the kids just because it would be a help to us, refusing anything in return. we demanded to give him a ride home anyway. this winter when he found out my daughter and i were moving back to the southwest, he arranged for a friend to help him move all our things out of storage and into our new house so that it would all be there for us before we arrived. he set up a bed so we could crash out as soon as we got here, and he put a bit of food in the fridge and a book to read in the kitchen too so we'd have necessities upon arrival. he's thoughtful like that. from hans i've learned the beauty of just slowing down to enjoy what it means to be friends with someone. i was awful focused on DOING things when we first met. i've also learned more clearly from my friendship with hans the beauty of generosity. we certainly have a reciprocal friendship, but more than anyone else i know, hans is willing to give just for the sake of giving.
also, real quick: he's totally geeky committed to his life pursuits of mathematical modeling and archaeology AND the study of interactions between humans and animals in the past via both archaeology and modeling, and something about that is just fucking great. geek-o-rama-fuck-yeah is what i have to say to that. and god knows i really mean it.