In 2000, Tirrell and I (then just dating) went to Mons, Belgium to study French. Within minutes of arriving, we were accosted by a German girl who’d heard us speaking English to one another.

“Hi! I’m Cordula. I’m German. Are you American? I au paired in New Joisey. I loooove Dunkin’ Donuts cwawffee.”

Okay, so maybe it didn’t go exactly like that, but I came away laughing because this German chick had picked up a New Jersey accent. Kinda cute.

We ended up becoming good friends. My French studies, I’m sorry to say, suffered as a result. Tirrell would kick me out of his room unless I agreed to speak French nonstop. Since that didn’t sound like fun, I’d opt to go across the hall to Cordula’s room and drink “cwawffee.” It didn’t occur to me that she was still getting to practice a foreign language.

Flash Forward

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Ah, for the miracle of Facebook. Cordula and I caught up sometime in the last five years online. I always get a little green with envy when I see her pictures of her traveling from one point on the globe to another.

So a few months ago, we started talking about meeting again. It didn’t work out for us to meet while we were in France, so we planned to meet in New York City in May.

So here we are.

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We’ve spent the last five days exploring every nook and cranny of Manhattan, which is her second home. It’s been a relief to do essentially no planning and just follow her as she points out the Empire State Building (her favorite), the Freedom Tower, and the best Starbucks. Girl’s got a gift for finding the best bathrooms in town, too. We joke that she should have an app and a tour of Bathrooms of Manhattan. My favorite was in Trump Towers, though I was disappointed that it didn’t have gold toilet seats. At least it had toilet paper.

 

Traveling with friends — even ones you haven’t seen in 14 years — helps you open up in new ways and experience things you wouldn’t have otherwise. It’s been great to reconnect with her, and get to know each other anew.

I’ll end by quoting Cordula, the coolest German I know:

Friendship is not about time or distance.