Stumbling Upon Old Friends in New Places

Before moving to Germany, Lee and I lived in Columbus, Ohio with our best friend. About two years ago, for a year and a half, we had the pleasure of hosting a beautiful, young Italian doctor in our house while she completed her residency. I can still remember perfectly what I loved so much about having her around. Cadence (our husky) would greet her at the door when she came home, and I could hear an exclamation of “Ciao, Bella!” emanating from the kitchen. She would drink a single espresso from the Bialetti and eat a single graham cracker every morning. She would make homemade Focaccia bread that would make you wonder why you ever ate anything else. She couldn’t always detect American sarcasm and it led to many hilarious conversations.

Anton: [said something presumptuous and rude]
Me: How did you reach that conclusion?
Anton: I took the BUS.
[long pause]
Alessandra: ……. the BUS!?

It only took 10 minutes for me to realize she would be my lifelong friend, and an equally short amount of time to realize it would be really hard to say goodbye when she moved back to Milan.

Well, that day came, and it was hard. As I hugged her in the airport, she told me, “It’s not goodbye. We will meet again.” It was a nice sentiment, but at the time, I was strongly skeptical about the likelihood that I would ever go to Italy. I had no money, and traveling to Europe ain’t cheap.

I also thought it was unlikely Lee and I would ever get married. Or that we would move to Europe. Or travel to Rome. But all those things happened. So what happened next should have been easy to believe.

Ale sent me a message on our second night in Rome after seeing an Instagram posting that hinted where we were. She said that she was in Rome for the weekend also, and asked me where we were staying. I found her location on Google Maps and choked on my own saliva when I realized she was only staying one street over.

Wait. That’s probably an understatement. What I meant to say is, I danced around the room like a Leprechaun (while also choking on my own saliva).

We wasted no time in organizing dinner plans, and she told us to meet her at a place called La Vacca M’briaca (The Drunken Cow).


Lee and I were so eager, we showed up early and stood outside the restaurant jumping at the sight of every Italian girl with curly hair.

Then, finally, we saw our curly-haired Italian girl.

Lee and I sandwiched her in a hug, and couldn’t let go for five straight minutes. I cried tears of joy, tears of disbelief that we actually got this lucky, tears of relief that we did, and just about every kind of tears in between.


We spent hours catching up on every detail of our lives over amazing food and wine until the wait staff kicked us out. Ale also brought along a friend of hers, who we clicked with immediately. We laughed non-stop, and it did so much good for my soul. I was sad when the time came to walk back to our apartment. But, once more, Ale reminded me that it’s not goodbye. When we travel to Milan, we will have a place to stay with warm beds and home-cooked Italian meals. How did I ever get this lucky?


I’m still smiling thinking back on it. We saw Alessandra. In Rome. We ate roasted artichokes and fresh pasta. We drank Nero d’Avola and Amaro. We did all the things we talked about with her but never really believed we would do. Never again will I assume that I won’t see someone again just because they live in another country. No matter what your situation is right now, things change. Circumstances change. But friendships like these never will.

And you can always reach your friends by taking… the BUS.





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