This week, an old dear friend came to visit us with her husband and kids. Laurie and I met at Sprachenschule, language school, when we had both first moved to Hamburg, Germany in 1994. Laurie had come over to live with her new love, Oliver, and I was there with Micha because he had just been promoted to run the German Division of Staples. Both of us were bewildered and out of our element. Our morning classes turned into lunch dates. Soon Laurie and I were unpacking her freshly arrived goods from the states and we were laughing about becoming German Hausfrauen.
Laurie always had an incredible eye for antiques, and soon she and Oliver were making trips to Sweden to scout the local markets for cool things to bring back and refinish. I was the witness at their gorgeous November wedding, at the Witthues Restaurant in the Hirschpark of Blankenese, one of the most beautiful parts of Hamburg. Micha was the official translator.
A few years later, Claire came to the world, and I would spend Wednesdays at Laurie's house, because Oliver had to work late. We drank coffee and walked through the streets with the baby carriage.
We both ended up moving close to each other, us in an apartment in Blankenese and they in a lovely historic home which they completely renovated. We would walk to each other's house and bring breakfast. Soon Eliot was born. We made each other cakes, we would dry each other's tears, we coped with all the changes in our foreign lives - together.
And we both decided to leave Hamburg in 2003.
Me for Italy, and her for Washington. My last nights in Hamburg were spent at Laurie and Oliver's, talking and eating, helping Claire with her homework. They are unforgettable moments for me. I will always remember the taxi which would take me to the airport when I departed for Italy -- I looked out the rear window and saw Laurie standing in the street, crying. We had just been through so much together.
So you can imagine what it meant for me to have the family here, even for three short days. Claire is a leggy, gorgeous 11 year old, and Eliot a bright eyed and animated 8 year old. We talked late into the night, drank too much wine, ate too much food. It was heavenly.
Those of you who have been here have seen Laurie's antique picks from Sweden, they dot the rooms and the kitchen. It was fun for her to see the pieces again. And of course, I think of her every time I see them.
I am so thankful for this short visit, and that we both have put our time in Hamburg into historic perspective, and realize the growth opportunities it has given us. We have both grown older, and wiser. It was a gift, one to be very grateful for. Old dear friends. Nothing like them.
Please visit more Gratitude Friday Club posts by my friends whose names are in the blogroll to the right. It always pays to be grateful. Always.