by Afton Rorvik

Note: The following is an excerpt from Afton’s book Living Connected: An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship

Who of us does not love a good story?

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . .”

Or “This is the story of a man, one who was never at a loss. He had travelled far in the world, after the sack of Troy.” 1

We grew up hearing stories, studying stories, writing stories. Story surrounds us.

In a delightful book, Leap Over a Wall, author Eugene Peterson, a master storyteller, explains the power of story: “Story is the most adequate way we have of accounting for our lives, noticing the obscure details that turn out to be pivotal, appreciating the subtle accents of color and form and scent that give texture to our actions and feelings, giving coherence to our meetings and relationships in work and family, finding our precise place in the neighborhood and in history.” 2

So how can we creatively develop our friendship stories?

We can look for others who share our creative passions. 

During my senior year in college, I lived in an apartment with three women, all of whom I had first met on my floor freshman year: Jacqui, Jody, and Linda.

When we moved into our apartment, Linda suggested we name it. In deference to her Italian heritage, she suggested Bella Casa Mia (my beautiful home). It stuck.

These three women brought with them to the Bella Casa Mia (BCM) a love of cooking. We decided to divide up nights and assign cooking/dishwashing partners. And we all agreed to fling wide the BCM doors and invite professors, friends, staff, and family members for dinner.

This way of living felt natural to two of my friends; they had grown up around tables buzzing with food and discussion. I had not. I watched and learned as we had multiple dinner guests each week. What a marvel to see firsthand that food could create such connection.

As our senior year came to an end, we decided to try and capture a bit of the BCM for all of us to take with us as we scattered across the country, so we created a cookbook of our favorite recipes. Jacqui hand wrote them in her lovely script. I supplied the literary quotes. Jody supplied the verses of Scripture. Linda helped run copies on the mimeograph machine and punch holes in the pages. We all strung the pages together with yarn.

We each kept a copy of our BCM cookbook, but we also made extras and gave them to some of the people we had invited for dinner and other friends and family members.

As I look back on it now, forty-plus years later, I realize that not a lot of graduating college seniors would feel compelled to compile a cookbook. But we had to do it. What better way to celebrate the story of our year together—a story of connection based on cooking.

In the years after college, I often turned to Jacqui’s Dutch Baby recipe or Jody’s Strawberry Pretzel Salad recipe or Linda’s Apple Brownie recipe. I did it partly because I loved the recipes but also partly because I loved my friends. As I cooked, I remembered them. And thanked God for that year of cooking we shared as college seniors. And for the lifelong gift of these three women who remain the dearest of friends, committed to their marriages, families, friends, and especially to a deep, life-sustaining faith in God.

When our fiftieth birthdays rolled around, and Linda’s oldest daughter, Kate, graduated from our alma mater, I knew I wanted to do something special. I returned to the story we four women had told our senior year—our cooking story. I put together a typed and bound version of our BCM cookbook. Of course!

After many years of use, my original BCM cookbook had become torn and stained, and I knew I needed to preserve this BCM cookbook, this visual representation of the cooking story we wove together. On days when I felt lonely, discouraged, and disconnected, I knew I would want to pull out this book, cook something, and then text one of my friends, “I just made your stroganoff for dinner! Thinking about you.”

Our cooking story.

1 Homer, The Odyssey: The Story of Odysseus, translated by W. H. D. Rouse (New York: New American Library, 1937), 11.

2 Eugene H. Peterson, Leap Over a Wall (New York: HarperOne, 1997), 3-4.

Per Gen contributor Afton Rorvik writes about living connected, something that matters deeply to her even as an introvert. Her book Living Connected: An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship debuts in October 2021. Afton and her husband John have two adult children and love to walk and hike in Colorado. You can connect with Afton on her website or on Facebook or Twitter.  You can sign  up for her monthly newsletter here.


Hey Perennials! You can preorder Afton’s new book NOW! Living Connected: An Introvert’s Guide to Friendship releases October 5th.