And That’s What Friends Are For

I spent the first weekend in June at Amelia Island with three girlfriends. I do at least one “girl’s trip” a year.  We pick a place we’ve never seen, pack an overnight bag and hit the road. This is a wonderful way for those with husbands, kids or both to leave them behind for two or three days to decompress with sightseeing, girl talk and liberal amounts of alcohol.

Now for the travelogue portion of the diary.  Amelia Island and the little town of Fernandina Beach are as beautiful and charming as I had heard. Our hotel backed up to Fort Clinch State Park and was a half block from the beach and just a mile or so from the historic district. The historic district is filled with Victorian homes on shady lots dotted with huge oak trees. The downtown area features a small harbor on the intercoastal waterway. There are shops and restaurants and an art gallery that features local artists. It is very pedestrian friendly

On the first Friday night of the month, there is a free concert in the historic district. And Saturday mornings feature a farmers’ market filled with gorgeous produce, artisan breads, and delicious olive salad (I adore olive salad). Every restaurant we tried was very good and the little cupcake shop we found was filled with fabulous sweet treats.

There is a great little bar and grill right on the beach called Sandy Bottoms. The food is good and they have live entertainment at night and since it was only a half block from our hotel, we didn’t have to have a designated driver. We lunched there on Saturday.

At this point, I must introduce the cast of characters. Gwen and Jean are married (but not to each other) and have no kids. I have known them for many years. Jean is my movie buddy. We share a love of cinema and usually see two or three movies a month, almost always on Tuesdays, because Tuesday is dollar popcorn day at our local cinema. It’s really now $2 for a small popcorn on Tuesdays. They raised the price in January, but we still call it dollar popcorn day. Jean and I are also soul sisters of a sort since we share the same birth month (July) and both of us feel a birthday should be celebrated all month long. This idea originated with another dear friend, Deb.

Jennifer rounded out our foursome for the weekend. I have only known Jennifer for a few months. She is divorced and raising her teenage son. This was her first vacation in several years. I am single and childless. I often joke that most of the world’s problems can be attributed to one thing – too many people. So by remaining childless, I like to think that I am part of the solution.

The four of us range in age from late 40’s to early 60’s. We differ in our political and religious beliefs but we can engage in spirited discussions of our viewpoints and still remain friends. Our lunch time discussion for some reason landed on the topic of aging and dying.

At this point I said, “At least you guys either have a husband or child who might be there if something happens. If I should die at home, it’ll probably be a week before anyone checks on me. My body will be decomposing in the house.”

Jean piped up, “I’ll notice if you don’t show up on Tuesday for the movie.”

“Like I said, my dead body will be rotting in the house for a week. The neighbors will be calling the police to check on that awful smell coming from my house!”

“That’s awful,” Jennifer said. “I’m going to call or text you every day to make sure you’re still alive.”

“Okay with me.”

That was on June 4th. On July 1st,  I received my first text from Jennifer:

               Ok so I’m late. It’s July 1 and I will msg daily to check that you are alive.

And to her credit, I got another text from her the next day. Not only did she check to see if I was alive, she invited me to see a movie with her and her son.

I am so grateful for so many things in my life, but I’m most grateful for my good friends. They are a diverse group and represent a cross section of ethnicities, ages, politics, religious beliefs and ideologies, but they all have good hearts and the ability to laugh at themselves and the world around them. They keep me grounded, sane and feeling loved. And they occasionally check to see if I’m still breathing.

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