Old Friends = New Guests

By - November 26, 2007 (Updated: May 30, 2016)


It’s been over seven years since Andrew and I got married on a beautiful Saturday in May. It’s also been over seven years since I saw my University roommate Marilla on that same sunny Saturday. Last Friday, that finally changed.

Although it often freaks me out when I think about how much of my life is out there on the internet for all the world to see, it has had some advantages as well. One of those was re-connecting with my former roommates from my days at King’s.

I met Marilla in my first year of university. She was a friend of a friend and was going to Dalhousie, where I took some of my classes, but she often found herself on the King’s campus during our first two years of dorm life. At first, I thought she was a shy, quiet Newfoundlander (an uncommon occurance) and I’m not sure exactly what she made of me. I soon learned that my initial assessment was slightly off, and in a couple of years we found ourselves living in a dilapidated house with a gaggle of other girls.


Although Marilla was often the voice of reason in a crowd of slightly-insane women, she had an almost imperceptible sarcastic wit that always made me laugh. The two houses we lived in together were always crazy, often noisy, but almost always fun. Among us all, there was a lot of sharing of clothing, late night pizza binges, all-night coffee-driven study sessions Due South marathons, a few drunken benders, and the occasional hormone-driven spat. It was a crazy time, but one of my favourite ones as well.

But, as these things happen, after we graduated we all drifted our separate ways. A couple of us got married, some went back to home provinces and time went on. The last time we were all together was when Andrew and I married.


Fast forward to a few months ago when I reluctantly joined Facebook – I found one old roomie in the Northwest Territories, two more in New Zealand and there was Maril, right across the pond in England. We caught up a bit; we planned; tickets were booked and Friday, I finally got to see Marilla again and meet her fiancée.

They arrived on the Eurostar, Friday evening, and after meeting at South station, we had a nice diner at Soul and played catch-up. We traded the inevitable ‘how did you end up as an expat?’
stories; swapped tales of ‘who’s doing what with whom and where are they now’; and basically tried to fill in the gaps of the past seven years. Once we were full and tired, we had a quick night-time wander through Grand Place to see the lights. Then we went back to the house and chatted some more over tea, before heading to bed.


The next morning, we were a bit slow out of the gate, but after all Marilla and Alan were on vacation. Once we got ourselves together, we headed to Cook & Book for lunch and then had a stroll around Leuven. Having walked off a few too many calories we decided to recharge in Sablon. After a frantic chocolate shopping-spree we collapsed at the Wittamer café where Maril had her first Belgian hot chocolate. It seemed to pass the test.

We decide we were too filled up on chocolate to deal with supper so we decided to catch a movie. Although Maril was a bit disturbed during the first 30 seconds, we all more or less enjoyed the film in the end. Finally ready for a bit of sustenance, we had some pizza at Mano a Mano and then headed home for tea and bed.


The next morning we got up earlier and with a mission – Alan wanted to visit Autoworld. Andrew and I are finally able to cross that off of our Brussels to-do list now, (although if Dad visits again, I think we will have to go back). After the museum we had some brunch and then did some more Brussels sight-seeing. We went out to the Atomium, and drove by the basilicas, the palace and the Asian pavilions. We also made sure Marilla and Alan had authentic Belgian waffles.

Then it was back to Grand Place for a quick walk around in the daylight, before jumping on the train to South Station.

It was great to catch up with Marilla again after all f these years (even if we were both feeling a little old) and it was great to meet Alan. So a big thank you to both of them for making the trip over. We had a great time. Let’s make sure it’s not seven years until the next visit!

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
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  1. Comment by Megan

    Megan November 26, 2007 at 21:29

    I’m very jealous. Nobody ever visits Yellowknife.

  2. Comment by Andrew

    Andrew November 27, 2007 at 08:32

    It was great to see them both! Now we have yet another reason to go visit the greater London area 🙂

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