Got together yesterday for a catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen in seven years!
In the June of 2005 I took off on my first trip overseas, by myself. I was 20 years old and had just finished my B.A.. I was off to Africa, first, hoping to find a place where I might work with orphans a few years down the road. After two months in Zambia I headed to Wyoming, USA, to do a student exchange. I was signed up to do the first half of my honours year in Laramie – a student town in the true wild west.
It was quite a shock to the system. America was huge and extravagant. This tiny town greeted me with a super-Walmart, closely followed by two stadiums, the larger seating 30 000 people for football games.
George W. Bush was in, and in this weird and wonderful corner of the world, still popular. I was reeling from Zambia and all the complex, baffling problems of the world – poverty, abused resources, corruption, injustice, inequality… and I was studying ‘American Studies’ which encourages some serious critical thinking about American culture and its influence.
I was, no doubt, unbearable. It was a difficult few months – and it was a blast.
I was pretty judgmental but somehow managed to make a few good friends. Seven years later, thanks to Facebook, we don’t have to keep in touch to be in touch. Amanda lived two doors down in the dorms and was my closest friend in Wyoming. Recently she was planning a trip to Paris, and of course knew I was here…
and so we could get together! Nowhere near either of our homes, and seven years later, with only a couple of short messages between us in the interim… amazing.
We’re both now married and qualified to teach, though not teaching currently. We still get on great – talk talk talking quick as we can.
We spent the afternoon hanging out at our place, while Louis napped, and then hung out some more (this time with Louis’ contributions… quite a few stories) until Luuk got home. It being a Monday night, we had limited options for dinner but managed to find a brasserie-type place down on the main road. Good variety of food and portion sizes – though Amanda’s steak was larger than expected.
I had this yummy shrimp dish (gambas!) with risotto – some of my favourite things. Not an absolutely stellar meal, but definitely not bad either. The risotto was a bit different to what I would usually expect – different rice, I think, and also possibly made with cream, not stock, so almost sweet. Definitely not salty. This might be the first risotto I’ve ordered in France so maybe they just do it differently here.
Anyway, we had a good dinner and then moved onto dessert. The starter might be optional (we had cheese at home so skipped it) but dessert – necessity!
Louis enjoyed the Chantilly cream from the top of Luuk’s coffee ice cream and coffee extravaganza, then munched away on part of my Cafe Gourmand – a coffee with a selection of sweets: the dessert of the indecisive and not very hungry.
We walked home and, once the wee man was in bed, had another drink and talked away another hour, till our guests were near-nodding off on the sofa, I suspect.
Today they’re off to see a top-billing Paris museum and I’m back to my usual napping/sandpit routine, but what a wonderful interlude and catch-up after such a long time. Fantastic!