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How Do You Solve A Problem Like Ulrika?

August 2nd, 2010 by admin

On the drive back from the ski weekend, somehow Winona and Ulrika wound up together in the furthest back seat of the 4 x 4. Dusk came down. Will was absorbed in driving.  The two people in front of them fell asleep. And in the darkness and quiet, on the long dull rainy drive home, Ulrika tells Winona how she wound up in Wellington.

Her tale is not unusual. Love; perfidity; heartbreak; seeking a fresh start somewhere far, far away from the scene of the emotional crime. Many single expatriates follow that pathway to Wellington. Her single friend Willow tells her that the dating scene is rife with them, each of them with great lumpy duffels of emotional baggage, and with their own nation’s dating expectations. The result is the opposite of a melting pot as everyone, unintentionally, offends each other.

Ulrika’s heartbreak is fresh enough that she still dwells on details. Winona can see her, barely. Without red lipstick, she looks pale and tired. Winona recalls that her expat co-worker, Jennifer from America, runs around with a crowd of other Yankees. But how many Swiss expatriates are there for Ulrika to pal up with?

Forcing jolliness into her voice, she encourages Ulrika to get out there, do things, meet people. It’s not the same as when she talks to her single friend Willow – but Willow is her actual friend. She knows that Ulrika knows that she knows Ulrika finds Will rather attractive. In a larger city, she’d be putting up more walls between her and Ulrika.

But the motorway signs are now saying that it’s less than 100 km to Wellington, and when they get back there, it’s a small social ecosystem that awaits. They’ve got to sort something out. Winona says, “When it comes to different scenes and groups and such, an American friend of mine said she was told that there’s one of everything in Wellington – but ONLY one. So, she was warned to tread very carefully, and try not to offend anyone.”

And hopes Ulrika gets the right idea.

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