Driving down that road, through this breath taking landscape, I seem to travel through time. Names, places and faces I had long forgotten start making their appearance in my mind again. As I look out at those majestic mountains, famous for their pink hue, I can't help but remember some the best years of my youth.
It was the roaring '80s, we had puffy hair and wore way too much make up. Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston sang on the radio and life was all about surviving in an all-girls' boarding school, skiing and catching a glimpse of the boy you had a crush on.
We were teenagers, everything was either fantastic or tragic, black or white. We were at the top of the world (excuse the pun) one minute, and crying bitter tears into our pillows the next.
At that age, if you are lucky, you make friends that last a lifetime. On the week end I sat with one of these and we talked about our friendship. We come from two very different worlds: I was a New Yorker from a pretty atypical (here) family of mixed cultures and religions, with half siblings and step siblings spread around the world. I did fine in school but I was admittedly more interested in hanging out with my friends on the slopes than in Latin. She was a girl who grew up in a really small town in the mountains from older, very strict parents. She played an instrument in the town's musical band, she excelled in school and attended church.
She went on to travel to lands I have only been to in my dreams and studied an exotic and difficult language, only returning a decade ago to marry her first, long-lost love. Life is funny that way isn't it? She now has two children and lives a few minutes away from the school where we first met.
|Oh, if you could smell these...|
We were not in touch for years and now that we are, we only speak sporadically and more often than not for work reasons: we ended up choosing the same career path, me by chance, her with great dedication and focus. The last time we saw each other was four years ago. Her second child was still a baby and my second was not even an idea yet. Well, perhaps a dream, a hope, but not a part of our lives yet.
So no, were are not per se the best of friends who share joys and trials, who exchange thoughts and details of our daily lives, but when we do get together it is like we have never been apart. We ease into a routine, our husbands chat away, our kids play without fighting and we just get each other, if you know what I mean.
So we spent a lovely long week end in the Pearl of the Dolomites. The weather was not great but that did not keep us away from the beautiful trails and forests. We watched marmots (also known as woodchucks, a larger species than groundhogs and prairie dogs) run around while we munched on our sandwiches.
We ate a delicious risotto made with mushrooms picked by our host and casunzei, both the traditional red ones filled with beets, and the green ones made with spinach and mountain herbs. Both are doused in butter and sprinkled with smoked ricotta and toasted poppy seeds or chives. We drank wines of the area and I discovered a new favorite grappa, latte della suocera (or mother-in-law's milk).
|Casunzei with spinach. How cute is that butter with the Cortina brand on it?|
|Latte della suocera|
|Casunzei with red beets|
As I walked down the streets of my adolescence pushing a stroller and holding my daughter's hand I had to smile remembering the bunch of us girls walking down the mountain singing Madonna at the top of our lungs, sharing a cigarette and giggling. Times change, we change but some of the good things, like friends, are here to stay.