When Old Friends First Meet
Have you ever had a friend like this? Someone you’ve known for so long that neither of you is sure whether it’s been ten years or twelve years. Someone who remembers your birthday, always asks about your family, shares favorite recipes, and lives far away? A friend who lives so far away, in fact, that although you’ve known each other for what seems like forever, you’ve never actually met?
Meet Heinz and Christine, as we just did. After perhaps ten, perhaps twelve, years of an Internet-only relationship, Heinz beamed himself from the south of Germany to the south of France, and ended up with his charming wife and granddaughter at our lunch table.
The first few moments were a blur of sorting out our languages, adjusting our preconceptions to the reality of living, breathing persons, and focusing on the bright link that has kept us in touch for twelve years. Or was it ten?
Although Heinz and I had a rich history together, especially a kitchen-variety history, it had all been told in writing. It’s quite something else to hear the voice that speaks the words, and making the transition from pixels to sound waves was a lot like the difference between looking at these figs piled with foie gras and truffle mousse, and popping one or two into your mouth. Or was it three?
Because we’re both cooks, and cooks are always at their best when they’re around a table heaped with food and wine, soon the stories were tumbling out of us like a tangle of green vegetables over rare duck breast, which is to say juicily and refreshingly. Satisfyingly, filling in the little empty corners in our understanding of each other until it seemed that we’d often sat together in just this way. Or was it the wine?
And before we knew it the afternoon flowed into evening and we were still at the table, laughing and catching up on the things we hadn’t been able to talk about for lo these ten long years. Or was it twelve? No matter, because in any case we reset the clock today, and now we’ll count from this lunch forward. And next time, it’s his turn to cook.