My BBF (British Best Friend)

by Natalie

My British Best Friend is phenomenal. She uses words like “keen, proper, and lovely” in everyday conversation, and for some reason I harbor this fantasy where everything is better in Britain. To anyone who will tell me that it rains all the time there, I simply suggest a cup of tea while sitting by an English fire. You can curl up with an Austen for good measure, or if you’re more modern, anything by Rowling should do just fine. I will admit I have a completely romantic vision of Britain. I imagine that everyone walks around all the time perfectly content and happy in their Britishness. This is based on my experience when I went there for a wedding this summer, but generally everyone is happy at weddings. They served peas at dinner and I nearly died of delight. I have never eaten peas in anything except for penne vodka here in America. It’s not even that I really like peas. I just like that they’re so British. And despite my trepidation, the food was good. Really, save for a rather unfortunate experience with eggs benedict, I enjoyed everything. I have not had a good cup of tea since being back in the States. It just tasted better in Britain.

But anyway. This is supposed to be about my British Best Friend, not tea, though tea has played tremendously into our friendship. Her name is Hannah, and we met when fate would have it that we both chose to spend the summer studying abroad in Valencia. Well, Hannah chose to study in Valencia. My parents kind of just told me that was where I was going to go (and I must say, it was a rather expensive way to get rid of me for three months – I learned quite a bit about ATM fees the hard way).

I met Hannah in the kitchen of our piso, while she was eating a tomato like it was an apple. She has assured me numerous times that a) this is not normal British behavior in regards to tomato consumption, and b) she’s not really sure what possessed her to eat it that way that day. She had on these terrific dangly butterfly earrings, and I was just ecstatic to meet someone who spoke to me in English.

It didn’t take too long before we realized that we are trans-Atlantic soul mates. While everyone else was happy to go to the bar, Hannah and I were perfectly content to go get ice cream then go back to our flat and watch Friends (which has provided her with an amazing understanding of all things 90’s and American). There was the awesome night where we had the entire flat to ourselves (because we shared it with eight other internationals, most notably a very friendly but stinky Belgian, and a Korean girl who was studying Spanish and Hungarian. I didn’t get it either). We cooked salmon in a dijon dill cream sauce and danced around to my retro 90’s American music …Britney Spears…I tried to sound cool by calling it retro, but I don’t want to lie to you. It was Britney Spears. And I loved every minute of it

Not only is my BBF fun and chatty, she is wise and thoughtful. There is no better person with whom I could have spent my time in Valencia. Hannah kept me sane when I completely lost my calm, listened to endless emotional rants about my then-now-ex-boyfriend, and accompanied me to see many a dubbed over movie (If Sex and The City 2 was as bad in English as it was in Spanish, I am glad I have not wasted the time to see it here). Hannah dutifully woke me every morning for class, and accompanied me on a jaunt for Chinese food in a far away city when some friends of mine came to visit from America. Side note: If you ever go to Spain, eat the paella. Chinese food in Spain does not equal Chinese food in America, despite my father’s claim that Chinese food is universal. It is not.

Hannah has had the same boyfriend since she was sixteen, and as of this summer he is now her husband. After saving for a year I flew over to be there for the wedding, and we now have another memory. When I get married I’m doing it British style. We’ll have a ceilidh, which is pronounced not at all how it looks, and is such a fantastic type of dancing that I had a massive blood blister for a month, and could not walk properly for three days. I will take care to advise my wedding guests that they should wear flats (something all the British people apparently knew already). Unfortunately I do not really like guys with accents, so I’ll probably not marry a Briton, but I shall continue to dream that one day I may live there, drinking endless cups of tea with Hannah, and only occassionally running in fright from garden slugs.

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