Frans and I have two really good friends. Their names mean“rock, ancestor’s descendant” and “work, industrious, and fertile.” They are a Son of Adam and Daughter of Eve.
They would understand that last Lewis description; they are familiar with analogies and fairytales, stories and mythologies. Frans and I met at their wedding, and beyond that the source of our story together converges in a tiny mountain town in Switzerland called Huemoz, a town on the side of the Alps, a town where the roads zigzag up and down the mountain, where there are tiny chalets, a church, and the view is almost too beautiful to believe.
We lost contact for a little while.First, Amelia was there. I came later that day, unknowingly to fill my position as the missing roommate Amelia had been searching for all day. In the months that followed, we shared a room and bunk bed, swapped clothes, took walks, processed through our pasts, played silly games, cooked and hung laundry together. We danced a lot. We visited Italy with our friend Emily on our ten-day holiday with our companion Rick Steves.
Three and a half years later, Frans from the Netherlands made his annual trip to Huemoz with three buddies. On the side of the mountain by the zigzag path, he met Per-Ole, a Dane staying in Huemoz after a stint in Japan and a brief sojourn back to Denmark. They became fast friends.
Frans visited Per-Ole in Copenhagen where the two sat in a friends garden and prayed, among other things, for their wives.
A few months later, Amelia returned to Huemoz. Per-Ole returned to Huemoz. The two became friends, allies, and they fell in love.
I got a call from Amelia one day in June. We were able to reconnect in a way that is rare and refreshing, and by the end of the conversation I had promised to book a flight somewhere between three other weddings and come to hers.
It was there I met Frans. Our story is in more detail. It’s called The Story I and II on this blog.
Per-Ole, the established rock, and Amelia, lush and generous and hospitable, are closely woven through our story. Frans and I have been twice to Amelia’s home state of Tennessee. Once to meet each other, once to become engaged. Per-Ole and Amelia have been to my state, Florida to celebrate our wedding, and they’ve visited us in our digs in Amsterdam. The missing link was Per-Ole’s hometown, Copenhagen.
Last week we got a chance to go, filling in the missing link.
It’s funny, but I came with the only context of Copenhagen I had, Lois Lowry’s Number the Stars, which I think I read about 20 times between the ages of 8 and 15. It’s juvenile historical fiction about young Danish girl, Annemarie Johansen, whose family plays a role in the Dutch resistence by helping to smuggle their Jewish friends across to Sweden. Many Danes took part in this quiet and dangerous rebellion against their Nazi occupants, and the result was that about seven thousand Danish Jews were safely transported to Sweden’s nuetral soil.
The story’s title is from Psalm 127, which references God counting all the stars one by one.
He who numbers the stars one by one and calls them each by name…
We ate like kings. Never underestimate Danish pork or potatoes. I will also include Rye Bread here and it does deserve those capital letters. The peas from the pea pod tasted like candy. We dipped ourselves in the cold sea and saw Sweden. We feasted on a blanket under the sun in a royal park. We drove through the Danish countryside to the beach and afterwards had the best ice cream I’ve ever had. It made me greedy and a bad cone-sharer with my husband. We swapped stories and ideas late at night around the table, sipping tea and eating Dutch drop.
Four friends, from four parts of the earth, numbered and called by name.
Meeting in Copenhagen was a good idea.