‘You shouldn’t postpone life until after retirement’

René Bakker: “We live in an apartment near the sea in IJmuiden, on the ninth floor. From the living room you look out over the dunes, but from the kitchen we have a view of Tata Steel. An exciting combination.”

René Seegers: “The contrast is bizarre. But we appreciate those raw fringes of IJmuiden.”

René Bakker: “We are both crazy about sports and run a lot in the dunes.”

René Seegers: “In the summer you can enjoy cycling, towards Castricum for example.”

René Bakker: “And the smoke usually blows the other way.”

René Seegers: “Most of the misery blows to Beverwijk.”

René Bakker: “Black grit.”

René Seegers: “We can still smell it, even if the wind blows in the other direction.”

René Bakker: “We knew it was there in advance – and yet we decided to buy this flat four years ago. We live here relatively cheaply, so we have a lot left over to live comfortably.”

René Seegers: “We like to eat out and we love theater and museums.”

René Bakker: “We also often go to Patronaat, an alternative music venue in Haarlem.”

Both René

René Seegers: “We originally met from an emergency response course. Both worked for a chain store at the time.”

René Bakker: “A few years later, in 2005, we met again at the COC in Alkmaar, where we both lived at the time.”

René Seegers: “We were both now working somewhere else.”

René Bakker: “I work for the V&D.”

René Seegers: “And I at the Sissy Boy.”

René Bakker: “In the beginning it took some getting used to that the other person’s name is also René.”

René Seegers: “The advantage is: if you tattoo the name of your loved one on your arm and it comes off afterwards, you don’t have to remove it!”

René Bakker: “We usually call each other ‘darling’, not René.”

René Seegers: “When we got married, we decided not to take each other’s surname.”

René Bakker: “Then I would now be called René Bakker-Seegers.”

René Seegers: “And I René Seegers-Bakker. Then it would have become too complicated for the outside world!”

René Seegers: “And it is also more convenient when we are traveling, because homosexuality is not equally accepted in every country. Indonesia, for example, where we were recently, is not very gay-friendly.”

René Bakker: “Especially not Java. Bali is better, also because it is Hindu.”

René Seegers: “We were recently in Nepal and had booked a double bed. At first they thought it was a mistake at the hotel.”

René Bakker: “Homosexuality of course exists in those countries, but it is not common to come out.”

Career switch

René Bakker: “A few years ago I decided to become an oncology nurse. I haven’t regretted it for a minute. The work is partly technical, but it also revolves around the psychosocial care you provide. That’s where you can really make a difference. A conversation with the doctor can go quickly. And the questions often only come after that conversation is over. The nurse can then offer help as a discussion partner. About side effects and the choice of the treatment schedule. The doctor has limited time, but such questions can be discussed at the bedside – such as: ‘My children are getting married, am I going to make it?’ Or: ‘Can I be there with this treatment schedule?’ Impact on food and sexuality is something people have to learn to deal with and I can help them with that.”

René Seegers: “I worked at Sissy Boy and wanted something different. Then I started training as a chef. Worked as a chef for a few years. But that is hard work and little earning. Now I am a bus driver in Haarlem and the surrounding area and I really like it. I enjoy seeing life around me and I also think it’s cool to drive a bus. I have nice colleagues. A young team, many women. I see a lot of colleagues outside of work. And it pays well, I think, especially when you consider that it is not very complicated.”

René Bakker: “The only disadvantage is that we have irregular working hours.”

René Seegers: “Sometimes we only see each other in bed. Then one has to get up at half past five and the other sleeps in. And we are often free on different days.”

René Bakker: “But other than that we are very satisfied. We hope that some people who read this will find inspiration to work in healthcare or as a driver. Because these professions are not popular. Wrongly. Such a practical profession has many advantages.”

René Seegers: “It’s not that abstract. You see what you do.”

René Bakker: “My work in the hospital can be mentally demanding, but after a short run in the woods I often manage to clear my head. And in the end it also gives me energy. I have many special conversations. Sometimes people have regrets. Then they say: ‘I had so much planned.’ That’s why I know: you shouldn’t wait until after you retire to travel.”

René Seegers: “We don’t do that either. You shouldn’t postpone life.”

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