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I’m on my epic birthday trip of many stops, and I just finished my first stop (Florida). At the moment I’m in the Tampa airport thinking about my time here. It was great, better than I imagined it would be.

I’ve been gone for almost 10 years. I’ve moved before and the friendships I made in various places faded over time. It’s hard when there is distance and no plans to return. I have kept in touch with a few close friends from New York, but that’s about it. I contacted one of my FL friends a while back to ask about various people, which led to some zoom calls to catch up with everyone. I never thought they would all still consider me a friend after all these years and no plans to return, but they did, and do. It made my heart feel really good.

These last days were spent seeing my friends and we all had such a great time. It’s as if no time at all has passed! My friends look just the same. Maybe there is a new hair color (gray 🙂) but the person is the same. One thing I did notice though, that almost everyone has had major health challenges, heart attacks, strokes, pain issues, cancer, bone/joint problems, some serious stuff. People are still very much living their lives but there have been very challenging times along the way, and some are still dealing with daily issues impacting their lives in a big way.

Now that I’m in a better position to travel more, I’m definitely not letting 10 years pass before I go back to Florida. You never know what tomorrow will bring and especially at our age, you need to do things today! Two of my Florida friends, people quite a bit younger than I, have already gone.

My Florida experiences makes me think about real friendship, that kind that lasts. It feels the same if you saw each other last week or ten years ago. My friends may not be blood related but we are family in every sense of the word, and any of us would be there for each other at any time.

I also don’t think this blog is such a big deal, but I learned that my Florida friends read everything I write. Maybe I should write more! I also learned that they are still watching the music videos we made at the beginning of COVID because we were trying to keep our skills sharp. Maybe we should make more videos. You just never know when something you think is no big deal makes a difference to someone else.

The banner photo is from yesterday when we all got together for brunch in a popular restaurant. There was a balloon guy making the rounds and when he learned that there was a birthday girl in our group, he had to make her a tiara.

Now, Joel is headed to Portland, Maine where he will meet up with his son and visit his mother. I’m going the other direction, to Tulsa where I will see my mother who I haven’t seen for a long time, and where I will meet my sisters for the first time. Yeah, I’m pinching myself that this is really happening.

Then, we will meet up in Seattle for the littlest granddaughter’s 4th birthday and a visit with family there, before we head to California to see the rest of the family. And then, just one more stop before returning home. (story to follow at some point)

When you get to the end of the road do you wish you had spent more time at the office? Do you wish you had accumulated more stuff? Nah, it’s the people, the relationships, the connections you made that are important. I’m going to use my remaining time, health, and resources to enjoy the relationships that are important to me. “The future’s uncertain and the end is always near” (the Doors, Roadside Blues) I’m very thankful for this time and this opportunity to see the people who are important to me.

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