After initially requesting only a small piece, the guest at the table asked for seconds. No one blamed him. Especially when he explained that American desserts trump those he's savored in his homeland of Germany.
However, while Florian claims the US has an edge on decadent sugar displays, his mother grew up with a view of the Alps that once stirred my soul more than chocolate cake ever will.
Thirty-three years ago, my family traveled through Europe. Toward the end of our second week, we happened upon the Eitzenberger's Bed & Breakfast in Garmisch Partenkirchen.
The charming lodge offered a spectacular view of the Alps. And as we got to know the family during our hearty bread and cheese breakfasts, Dad insisted we sing a few barbershop tunes. In return, Mrs. Eitzenberger and her daughter yodeled for us. Connected by a love of family and music, my dad and the proprietors exchanged Christmas cards for many, many years.
Fast forward thirty-three summers, and before Florian left to spend a semester abroad at Georgia Tech this fall, his grandmother (the elder Mrs. Eitzenberger) encouraged him to look up my dad. The two connected and Florian even shared a traditional Thanksgiving meal with us last week.
As our small world's collided, I valued the unusual sense of unity.
Florian made visiting easy. Almost too easy. My sister even referred to him as "Nathan's German twin" because he looked and acted a lot like my oldest son.
|Nathan and Florian|
It was great fun.
|Nathan, brother Mark, Florian, me, Dad, Mom|
Resurrecting thirty-three year old memories added a flavor to our Thanksgiving that felt similar to the cherry topping that covered that moist chocolate cake. The cake would've sufficed. But the cherry topping enhanced the memorable experience even more.
Bottom line, you just never know when a connection will fire, then sizzle for years, and eventually ignite into something new.
Call it destiny, fate, or a keen sense of déjà vu, visiting with Florian felt surreal and reminded me that crossing cultural divides is meant to enhance our lives. Not to mention that sending yearly Christmas cards may in fact have a purpose and lead to sweet moments far down the road.
It's easy to curl up and stay safe on our side of the street. Oh so very easy. But the world is calling. So let's do this thing.
You may be surprised in just thirty-three years.
All photos (except for the family photos) courtesy of pixabay.com