If you’ve always thought that the saying “love is blind” was just a cliché, the story of Emmy Abrahamson and Vic Kocula is sure to prove you wrong. Their love story is undoubtedly unique, and even though they look just like a regular couple today, things were not the same when they met. While first impressions are surely important in the world of dating, these two are proof that that is not always the case.
Emmy and Vic met when Emmy was traveling to Amsterdam in 2006, coming from Vienna. While she was waiting for a friend, she sat on a park bench, and when a homeless man approached and asked her for the time, even though they were sitting in front a large clock, they started up a conversation that would later prove to be the beginning an incredible love story.
It’s not every day you meet a couple with such an authentic story about how they first met. On the day he decided to talk to the beautiful woman sitting on a bench in the park, Vic Kocula was homeless, alcoholic, and in his own words, “reeking of garbage and sweat.” But that didn’t stop him from asking Emmy for the time as he sat down near her on the bench.
Emmy was a well-educated Swedish actress who was waiting for a friend while visiting Amsterdam. When Vic asked her for the time, she thought it was an odd request because they were sitting in front of a large clock, but she felt drawn to the man and decided to answer his question. The rest is history…
Emmy Abrahamson was born in Sweden but traveled a lot during her childhood because her father was a foreign affairs journalist. She speaks five languages, and before meeting Vic, she was an actress, having graduated from acting school in London. Because of her father’s job, Emmy lived in Austria, the Soviet Union, the Netherlands, and the UK.
In an interview, she mentioned that growing up, “conversations over dinner were about politics, literature, and recent world events.” Today she is no longer an actress and is now a children’s author.
Vic Kocula was born in Poland, but he was brought up in Toronto, Canada, by his mother, a cleaner, and his father, a bricklayer. While he was backpacking around Europe, he ran out of money, and instead of going back to Canada, he resorted to sleeping on the street instead. He managed to live like that for a while by begging for money, but soon he started drinking heavily.
One day, according to Vic, he actually realized that he had turned into a homeless alcoholic. When you look at the pictures of Vic today, it is rather unfathomable to imagine that 14 years ago, he was sleeping on the streets of Amsterdam, with no career prospects, no money, and no shoes.
If you look at this couple today, it is impossible to guess that Vic was a completely different person when they met. It is also difficult to imagine how a woman, such as Emmy, would fall for a disheveled man with no income and no place to live. But it all proves that love is blind, and also, that opposites attract.
Vic was indeed somewhat rough around the edges, and while he was never interested in higher education, he dreamt about backpacking through Europe. To fund his trip, he worked in several low-income jobs straight after high school, but the funds were over sooner than he planned, so he was left only with the option of living on the streets.
While wandering through a park in Amsterdam, Vic saw Emmy sitting on a bench, waiting for her friend. He later said, “This beautiful woman was sitting there by herself, and she looked super-content, with a smile on her face. I just had to go and talk to her.” So, he ignored the fact that he had dirty fingernails and ragged clothes and mustered up the courage to go talk to her.
Vic was aware of the fact that he was not quite a catch at the moment, and in a later interview, he said, “When you’re homeless, your feet get minging. You’re not washing your socks, and you sleep in a park with wet shoes constantly on your feet.”
But none of that mattered, and Vic found himself plonking down and asking Emmy for the time. She was impressed by his beautiful brown eyes and proceeded to chat with him for about 10 minutes as her friend was running late. She later recalled that the captivating 6’6″ nomad make her laugh a couple of times during their brief conversation.
And when she got up to leave, Vic asked her to meet again on the same bench six days later, and she agreed. Emmy was just getting out of a four-year relationship, and even though she was put off by his appearance, she found something about this man intriguing, so she decided she would meet him again.
For most of his day, Vic was living in a bush, and he would sleep under the stars on clear nights. When it rained, he would find shelter under a bridge, and sometimes he was just sitting on benches in the city center. He would drink most of the time heavily, but after meeting Emmy, he decided that he should turn his life around.
During the six days he had before his next date with Emmy, Vic sold drugs to be able to buy some cream for his feet to eliminate the stench. In his heart, Vic didn’t believe that a woman like Emmy would even show up to see him again, but he felt that he should make an effort if she did.
After their brief first encounter, Emmy had a lot to consider before deciding whether she should return to the park the next Saturday. She said that even though she considered not going, she found herself thinking about the homeless man a lot during the week. “On the one hand, I was put off by his disheveled appearance, but on the other, there was something about him that was so intriguing that I wanted to meet him again,” she said.
Eventually, Emmy decided that there was something there between her and Vic and decided to give him, and love, a chance. So even though she knew that he was homeless with absolutely no prospects, she got herself ready for the next date in the park.
On Saturday, Emmy arrived at the bench where she first met the guy, but to her surprise, there was no sign of him. They decided to meet there at 3 o’clock, but Emmy found herself waiting for 20 minutes before she almost decided to give up. As she recalled, her heart was thumping, and the fact that Vic wasn’t there was indeed disappointing.
But at 3:20, Vic turned up and made an appearance in style on a kid’s bike. When Emmy scolded him for being late, Vic replied, “I didn’t think you would come. I came to check just in case. And you’re here!” And all of a sudden, she wasn’t angry anymore, so she quickly forgave him for making her wait.
Emmy and Vic spend the next six hours walking around the beautiful city of Amsterdam, having an impromptu picnic, talking, and getting to know each other. Emmy learned that Vic was currently living in Vondelpark, and she was impressed by his optimism and zest for life. “During our time together, I realized that Vic was simply the funniest, happiest, and most optimistic person I had ever met,” she later said.
Emmy found Vic mesmerizing, and she was soon infected with his optimism and desire for adventure. “He had a lust for life that was both mesmerizing and contagious. I had never met anyone like him before – someone who found everything a huge adventure,” Emmy said.
But Emmy wasn’t the only one who was falling in love quickly. While Vic still couldn’t believe that someone like Emmy would even give him a chance, he was now positive that he was in love with her. According to Vic, he never expected her to reply when he approached her on the bench, never mind agreeing to go on a real date with a homeless man she had just met.
Love works in mysterious ways, though, so the two of them decided to give it a chance. The only problem was that Emmy had to return to Vienna in a couple of weeks. So they had three more dates in Amsterdam, and every time they met, they were more attracted to each other. It was during this time that Emmy realized Vic was five years younger than her, but that didn’t matter.
If you put all the elements of Emmy and Vic’s encounter on paper, nothing would make sense. He was a homeless alcoholic man thousands of miles from his home, and she was an educated woman five years his senior who was in town for just a couple of weeks. If that was a movie, you wouldn’t have had high hopes for such a relationship to work.
“I tried to fight my feelings as there were so many things wrong with him according to my world-view: he had no education, no career prospects, was five years younger than me, and was living in a bush!” Emily was very surprised that she fell in love with Vic, but decided not to fight her feelings.
When the time came for Emmy to leave town, she knew that their relationship was highly improbable to happen, but still, she gave Vic her contact information and phone number before flying home. But that was a long shot, simply because Vic had no phone nor permanent address, so keeping in touch was bound to be difficult.
“I am not sure that the Dutch postal service would have accepted letters addressed to ‘the good-looking guy living in the bush in Vondelpark, Amsterdam,’ so I had no way of keeping in touch with him,” Emily joked later. When she left Amsterdam, Emmy wasn’t sure that she was going to see Vic ever again.
While in Vienna, Emmy lived with the hope that she would hear from Vic at some point, but more than three weeks passed, and nothing happened. But just when she was about to give up, her phone rang on Monday morning. At the other end of the line was Vic, who informed her that he was in Vienna.
Even though he only said, “I’m here,” Emmy knew exactly who she was talking to. After Emmy left Amsterdam, Vic buckled up and found various odd jobs to be able to afford a train ticket to Vienna. When he got there, the first thing he did was call Emmy to let her know that they would soon be reunited.
Vic and Emmy’s love story was still far from a happy ending, mostly because of the new challenges ahead of them that were bound to put their love to the test. One of the major issues the relationship encountered with meeting Emmy’s family and friends. Now even though Emmy saw a funny, handsome and kindhearted man in Vic, she imagined that it would be difficult to convince her family that he was right for her.
After all, Vic had no home, no job, and no education, so no one would have been surprised if her parents didn’t accept him. In the beginning, Emmy didn’t tell her parents everything about Vic’s background, as she was hoping they would gradually like him for who he was.
Even though Emmy didn’t tell them everything about Vic, they still weren’t convinced he was the right man for her. “It bothered them that he didn’t have an education. Before they met him, my dad was also afraid that Vic was going to give me some terrible disease, and my mom was worried that he was going to steal from me.”
But after meeting him a couple of times, Emmy’s parents discovered that he was intelligent and compassionate even though he didn’t have a formal education. Eventually, they were convinced he would make their daughter happy. Vic was welcomed in the family, and everyone started to like him, especially after seeing he was a great cook and helpful around the house.
But not everyone was willing to give Vic a chance. Some of Emmy’s friends would not accept him, and they didn’t want to go to the trouble of getting to know Vic. They simply judged him for his appearance and lack of a normal life. “I lost two of my oldest friends as they refused to accept him,” said Emmy.
“I miss them… I also feel angry that they never took the time to get to know him properly…” she continued. But life goes on, and Vic and Emmy would soon have their own circle of friends who weren’t bothered at all by his background.
Once the family was on board, it was time for Vic to get back on his feet. Because for most of his life, he believed that “real men don’t study,” Vic had never read a book, and college wasn’t something that ever crossed his mind. However, because his love for Emmy gave him a new pair of wings, Vic decided it was time to turn his life around.
But that was easier said than done, mostly because he had so much catch up to do. Emmy’s love and support, however, made it possible for him to study full-time and graduate with a degree in mechanical engineering. He later went on to find a job that he wouldn’t have believed possible in a million years.
Vic managed to turn his life around and become a fully contributing member of society because Emmy loved him and believed in him. “Vic once told me that I was the first person who believed in him,” Emmy said. “And that’s all it takes. Just saying, ‘I believe in you’ can change someone’s world.”
Vic is now a design engineer. Living in a bush is just a long-lost memory for him. He is no longer an alcoholic, but a functional and caring man who does his best to take care of his family and be a full member of society.
Emma and Vic’s story doesn’t stop there. Today, they are married with two children, twins Desta and Til, who were born two years after their parents met on a bench in Amsterdam. The beginning of their marriage wasn’t an easy one because Emmy had given up her career as an actress to become a writer, and Vic was studying full-time.
But they made it work, and their life is today a comfortable one, with Vic having a good job and Emmy being a published author. Vic and Emmy’s hard days seem to be behind them, and they are now enjoying a life they could never have imagined when they were talking in that park in Amsterdam.
The love story between Vic and Emma made her realize that she had a lot of preconceptions about homeless people, just like most of her friends and family. In her book that is basically an account of how the couple met and fell in love, Emmy says, “[He] opened my eyes to the lives of homeless people – a world I had always chosen to ignore.”
“I used to have so many preconceptions about homeless people, chiefly that they somehow deserved where they had ended up. Now I know that becoming homeless is a fate that could befall any one of us… [and] that homelessness can sometimes be a lifestyle that people choose.”
Following her dream to become a writer, Emmy published a book titled “How to Fall in Love with a Man Who Lives in a Bush: A Novel” in January 2018. While the book mostly focuses on the unexpected romance between Emmy and her husband Vic, it is a fictionalized novel, and the names of the characters are changed.
In the novel, which has been described as “a fresh, hilarious and compulsively readable love story with the most wonderful kernel of truth to it,” the main character, Julia, falls in love with Ben, a cheerful and optimistic homeless man who is in need of a shower.
“How to Fall in Love with a Man Who Lives in a Bush: A Novel” went on to become an international bestseller, having been translated in dozens of languages. Publisher Harper Collins described the book as “Funny, filthy (literally) and fizzing with life – and based on a true story! – this is the perfect antidote to all those books promising you that Prince Charming lives in a castle.
The book was well-received by the public and the press, and it did a great job at shattering preconceptions about homeless people. It also sent a message that love can spring from entirely unexpected places, and it’s up to us to give it a chance.
Many people would think that Vic lucked out when he met Emmy, but the truth is that she considers herself just as lucky for having met him. She believes that even though many of the people who hear their story see her as the rescuer, he was the one that actually saved her.
“He showed me that you don’t need much to be content, and he makes me laugh every day. In the almost 12 years we have been together, I have become calmer, more easy-going, and have a better sense of humor. And that is all down to him.” Emmy believes that her life changed for the better after meeting Vic and seeing the look of happiness on her face is proof enough.
Almost immediately after meeting Vic, Emmy decided not to pursue a career as an actress anymore, and become a writer instead. She made her debut in 2011, and she was nominated for multiple awards the following year for her book “My Dad Is Kind and My Mom Is a Foreigner.”
She wrote a couple more books for children since then, before deciding to turn her incredible love story with Vic into a novel. Emmy continues to travel through Europe and beyond to promote her books, and she recently revealed that she has multiple other literary projects in the pipeline.
Vic and Emmy’s love story became famous all over the world after she wrote “How to Fall In Love with a Man Who Lives in a Bush: A Novel.” The pair had several TV appearances in Sweden and other countries, and the press was also interested in coming to their home for a glimpse into their happy lives.
In one of the TV appearances to promote the book, Emmy admitted that she wanted to kiss Vic from their first date, but she hesitated because of the smell. The interviews offer lots of details about what it really s like to date a homeless person, and they were very well received by the public.
Once their unconventional love story became famous, Vic and Emma were subjected to public opinion, and while most reactions were positive, some of them were not really pleasant. Being in the public eye meant that people were commenting on Twitter about this bizarre relationship.
One user said that Vic was not really homeless, but more like on an extended vacation, while another woman made her point saying, “If I ever get this desperate for a husband, shoot me.” While there were multiple negative Tweets, overall, the people thought the love story was sweet and inspirational.
You probably wonder whether Emmy and Vic decided to share the story of how they met with their children. The answer is yes, but the two are not really sure the little ones really understand how unique their love story is and why. Desta and Til are twins and are currently eight years old.
“We’ve told them everything that happened. I don’t think they grasp the social aspects of the whole thing; they just think it’s funny that daddy lived in a bush, said Emmy in an interview for the Daily Mail. It’s what you would expect from little kids — they’ll probably appreciate their parents’ love story better over the years.
The name of Emmy’s novel is actually inspired by her children. Emmy was moved by the little one’s childlike understanding of their parents’ love story, and she decided to use the “lives in a bush” line as a title for her book.
Emily’s book was compared to the writing of Jonas Jonasson, and is often referred to as “quirky Scandinavian fiction.” While it is not a memory, it draws a lot from the real events that led to Vic and Emmy’s real-life love story. What’s best about the book is that you would actually believe it was a good subject for a romance novel even if you didn’t know it was based on true events.
Just like in real life, the plot of Emmy’s book starts in Vienna, with the protagonist being Julie, a woman who teaches English and lives a rather boring life. All that changes when she meets Ben, a Canadian man who doesn’t have a home but instead lives in a bush in a local park.
The story borrows a lot from real life, but in the book, Julie asks Ben to take a shower before she kisses him for the first time. She also tries to change his lifestyle, but Ben also tries to make her see that her own life could do with a shake-up.
In the book, Julie and Ben have a fight and he leaves, which leaves readers wondering whether he’d come back and whether Julie would take him back if he does. That did not happen in real life, according to Emmy, but the book is a work of fiction after all.
Also, in the book, Julie travels to Vancouver to find Ben, again, something that didn’t happen in the real love story between Emmy and Vic. They manage to find each other and make it work after quite a few mishaps, which goes to show that love is never easy, but it’s worth fighting for.
Before meeting Vic, Emmy was living alone in an apartment in Vienna with her cat named Whiskey. In an interview for Daily Mail, she said, ” A four-year relationship had ended badly and, although I wasn’t averse to meeting a man if he happened to fall into my lap, I was enjoying life on my own.”
But Emmy didn’t know at the time that the thing missing from her life was a giant homeless man with a heart of gold (Vic is 1.98 meters tall). The tall, handsome stranger would take her life by storm and change the peaceful existence she had with her beloved cat.
While she didn’t think the relationship would work in the beginning, Emmy was decided to give love a chance, and it was all worth it in the end. Just two years after their encounter on a bench in a park in Amsterdam, they got married at the Belvedere Palace in Vienna in the presence of both their families.
“Not only have I ended up with the funniest and most wonderful husband, but the twins couldn’t have a better or more loving dad,” said Emmy. But the road there wasn’t an easy one, and there were lots of sacrifices each of them had to consider to make it work.
Life on the streets was not kind, so Vic was a severe alcoholic when he met Emmy. He usually started his day with a can of beer, and even though Emmy wanted to make him understand that that needed to stop, she also knew that giving him ultimatums would not work.
The good news is that she didn’t have to fight too much to curb Vic’s alcoholism, as he soon realized that that was no way to live. He took the decision to curb his drink very early in the relationship, so that was one more obstacle behind them on their way to happiness.
Being in a relationship with someone who knows a thing or two about the rough life on the streets has its perks. Vic taught Emmy some valuable life skills, such as how to break into a car, which would come in handy should she ever locked herself out. Moreover, he opened her eyes to the reality of being homeless.
“He opened my eyes to the lives of homeless people – a world I had always chosen to ignore, and one most of us want to forget about. They’re people who make us feel uncomfortable, and we try to get away from them as fast as possible, Emmy admitted in an interview.
Many people thank that people who are homeless have a certain background and that they somehow deserve to end up like that. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth, and Emmy learned not to judge homeless people after meeting Vic. She knows that being homeless is something that could happen to anyone.
“I have also learned that homelessness can sometimes be a lifestyle that people choose – as in Vic’s case – to get away from a less than satisfactory existence. Vic said he would rather live on the streets of Europe than have a ‘crappy job’ (his words) in Canada, Emmy added in an interview for the Daily Mail.”
The heartwarming love story between Emmy and Vic teaches everyone a thing or two about appearances. Emmy knew immediately that Vic was homeless. “His clothes were dirty, his hair and beard dusty and, rather incongruously, he was holding a worn briefcase,” said Emmy.
But still, she chose to look past all that and soon discovered a hidden gem of a funny and optimistic man who just happened to be homeless at the time. Never judge a book by its cover is probably the biggest lesson everyone can take away from this love story.
Even though her brain made her doubt her choice of dating a homeless man she met in a foreign country, Emmy trusted the instincts that were telling her she was doing the right thing. She was initially confused by her attraction towards Vic but still listened to her heart.
Vic, on the other hand, was also mesmerized by Emmy, but never thought he had a chance. He almost didn’t show up for his second date with her, because he was pretty sure she wouldn’t be there. But he trusted his instincts as well, and his whole life changed for the better as a result.
According to Emma, the life she and Vic built together is only getting from strength to strength. He is a great husband and a doting father, and Emmy enjoys her family bliss while also focusing on her numerous writing projects. […] we feel truly blessed and never take anything for granted, mentioned Emmy.
Both Emmy and Vic’s Lives have been transformed from the day they met in a park in Amsterdam. While their relationship was criticized by some, they ignored the naysayers and are today parents of two wonderful children, looking at a wonderful future together.
Before meeting Vic, Emmy could never have imagined that one day she would fall in love and marry a homeless man. But as fate would have it, she actually did, and in the process learned that you always have to keep your eyes open and give love a chance if you feel deep inside that’s the right thing for you.
She also tells her readers that they should never judge a book by the cover and that it is important to take the time to get to know someone before dismissing them as just a person without a future. “Sometimes … just making eye contact, smiling, and saying ‘hi’ to someone you wouldn’t usually talk to can change their life. Or yours writes Emmy.