Since sharing about the restaurant Il Bio months ago, a lot has happened. In those months, I have made a lovely friend. Her name is Andrea, and she and her husband are the sole owners and employees of Il Bio.
This woman is stout, effervescent, and pleasantly curious. She has a wide crescent smile. She has shown me a sort of love I didn’t really think I’d get to experience on Earth. I thought I’d probably have to wait a long, long time to see it. I came to a country I’d never been to before on a semi-whim, intentionally pushing expectations away. Within 3 weeks of being in Vienna, I caught this little mama waddling around the 5 tables in her red-and-white-checkered restaurant. She gave me a tiny tour. I met her goofy husband, who was cooking in the narrow kitchen right in the middle of it all. They told me to come back, and I did. I came back, and I came back, and I took my mom (when she visited) too, and then they let me eat in the kitchen while they cooked. Each time I would come into their restaurant, whether alone or with friends, Andrea would take time to check in with me. She would stick around my table and chat with me about my day and my studies. She introduced me to her daughter, who my mom and I talked to for an hour one night. When Andrea invited me over to have a meal on Sankt Nikolaus day, I was introduced to her entire family. We ate tender schnitzel and two types of potato salad– one tangy, one creamy. We were crammed into a living room/dining room. Nine of us were there for hours into the night, comparing our childhoods and discussing places we wanted to travel to in the future. Because of the simple warmth of Andrea, I was eating a family meal in a family home in the winter.
I didn’t expect this. How could I have? I did dream of warmth in food, in a cozy home with too much on the walls, in family, and in a tiny restaurant not too far from me where I am always welcome, but I didn’t expect to see all things things so soon. I was given all those things and a lovely friend.
That night around the table, she jumped to ask everyone at the table, “Do you all know how we met? Lauren FOUND us.” Truly, truly, I didn’t, or maybe I did–but only technically. It just feels so much like she found me.
(Andrea in her dining room)
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<p>Hello, hello! I'm Lauren Franklin, and I'm a junior at the University of San Diego. I'm an English major with a minor in psychology, and I'm trying to squeeze in as many theology and art classes as I possibly can. I would love to be the sort of student who's constantly found in the library studying away, but that's not always the case here: What bring me the most joy are grand stories, fresh produce, the green rolling outdoors, and creating and learning with friends who want to venture out together.</p>