Whew! Another airport. I’m sitting at gate B3 which is decorated in stars and stripes, looking more fourth of July-ish than Memorial Day. It’s the only gate that is decorated. I wonder what that’s all about? It looks like it might be a contest, and they are the sure winners. Glittery garlands are along the backs of all the seats, there are stars and stripes balloons around the screen that announces the flight behind the service desk, and fireworks displays along the countertops. I must say I’ve not seen anything like this. Perhaps it’s the gate where some returning military are coming in. That’s a possibility.
I’m here early. I was worried about getting the rental car back in time, and the roads are so easy to navigate, it was a breeze getting dropped off and to the gate. A week in the southwest and it seems like a month. I’ve done a lot. The conference was great, as usual. It feels so good to be among peers and (mostly) women working toward the same goals. Having worked alone for so many years, it has always been a much needed dose of peer-sharing for me. It helps to know others share similar frustrations, though there is a sense of preaching to the choir. That’s what motivated me last year to do the TED talk. I thought, we are all working to change things, but it’s not going to happen until the general public gets this same message. We’ll see what comes of it.
At the end of the conference I was meeting friends in Santa Fe, but had a free night on my own. On an impulse, I rented a car and drove 4 hours to Chinle, Arizona to visit some Peace Corps friends who’ve been living and working there for the past six years. I hadn’t seen them since 1993 when we were building our house. They’d come to visit us in Maine with their four kids, sleeping in a tent while our place was a construction site. As I recall, the older kids slept in the shell of the house we were building. Probably some huge hazard we chose to ignore. We had similar child-rearing philosophies and since our kids were all the same ages, and they’d had a baby born in Malawi as well, we had a lot in common. Great friends.
As the kids got older and life got more complicated, we traveled less to visit each other. For several years we kept in touch by Christmas cards, back in the day when we hand-wrote long letters in each one. When my husband left, I called to tell them the story; I think I wanted instant shock and support and couldn’t wait for a response by snail mail. I don’t even think I was doing email back then. It was a long phone call, probably two hours of me pouring out my sob story. At one point I said pathetically, “I don’t know what I did to deserve this.” And Steve retorted, “Will you stop that Catholic guilt shit? What does a three year-old in Iraq do to deserve to get bombed?” Well, that made me stop my whining. It was the slap in the face I needed. It was the end of the pity party. That one comment, the sort only a great friend can deliver, changed how I dealt with the situation and I’m eternally grateful.
I love these people. I love that we can go years without seeing each other and be instantly connected again as if it were only last week. I was there for all of 16 hours, seven of which were spent sleeping, and it was so worth the trip. We managed a walk with the dog, hours of reminiscing, great dinner, a hospital tour, and a desert hike. It’s amazing what you can fit in to a short visit. And of course, there were the plans of future visits in exotic locations. No visit would be complete without that!
My life has been filled with so many wonderful friendships, and again, I’m filled with gratitude. I arrived in Santa Fe and met up with Margie and Patti. It was on Patti’s list to visit the Georgia O’Keefe Museum and we were there to share it with her. I love being this age. I love being able to set goals and accomplish them. I love sharing that with those I love.
On my way home to see my love and get ready for the next adventure.
Life is good.