Today I left Rome by express train to Milan, and then by local train to Sesto Calende where I was greeted by an old, dear friend, Ulla.
We met in 1969, when I was 15, she 16, in the city of Liège, Belgium, where I spent my school vacations (I was going to boarding school in Germany) with a colleague of my father's and his family, the Gillets. Ulla, from a small town near Bonn, spent her breaks with the Gillets working on her French. We became good friends, and have remained so, through thick and thin.
I went to her wedding to a Belgian man, Emile, several years after we met, and visited them at their home outside Brussels a few times. After they moved to Lago Maggiore in northern Italy, David and I visited them there, and I visited on my own as well. When they divorced, after 35 years of marriage, and Ulla partnered with a lovely Italian man named Roby, I came back again. And in the meantime, Ulla has been to California with her two children, Lisa and Till, and Lisa's husband, Vincent, all of whom live back in Belgium. Since then, Ulla has acquired three funny granddaughters, and Till has found his partner, Laure—whom I met today for the first time, a delightful young woman. It has been very fun to see Ulla and Roby again—we figured it had been eleven years since the last time: we picked up our friendship as if no time has passed. The best!
Ulla and I went for a walk along the lake late this afternoon, between aperitivi and pizza. It was a beautiful afternoon. I took a couple of pictures—but the picture we need is one of the two of us. Hopefully Roby can take that one tomorrow morning before Ulla heads off to a long day of work (she teaches at the European school in Varese) and I head off to Venice.
And . . . here's the photo of the two of us, which Roby took the next morning in the garden. BFF!