My life is so different now from that first hike. Jay proposed- Danica my stepdaughter moved in, Mila - my second stepdaughter would come to visit, and since then -we have had not one but two babies- Brooklyn and Cali. We have since lost two of our fur kids. Sadly Mirage was in a hit and run on a Christmas Eve last year- the saddest christmas of my life- but four sweet days later my gorgeous baby Cali was born- and filled my darkest hour with some light. Austin, our cat got sick, he rapidly began losing weight and getting what appeared to be cancer according to one of the vets. Towards the end he did not leave my side- he even ate and drank which game me hope and then one day- he meowed to go out and has never returned. I read animals do this when it's their time- my heart breaks, but without closure of a final goodbye it does not feel real. I often think I see him in the shadows of the night, only to realize it's not. So odd how I can spend 6-10 years so intimately, working from home, seeing them every day, sleeping with them, thinking of them as my "kids"... and then one day, just like that, they're gone, and my family as I knew it just six short years ago is so different in such a short period of time.
I wonder how those people who live in that houses life might have changed- if at all. Do they ever look up at our house and lights in the night and wonder the same thing?
This area, unlike NYC and RTP is not transient. More often than not the people I meet were born here, have grown old here and will most likely die here. Very few travel outside these areas and even less have plans of moving. Jay and I are nomads, Rolling Stones. Between the two of us we have moved 20 times, multiple statues and even countries. Although I am not shy at making friends, (I always say a stranger is just a friend you haven't met yet") I often am reserved to really truly get close to anyone - - sort of unconscious affect to avoid the pain of losing friendships after I inevitably move as I always have.
I am thankful to social media - especially facebooked for this reason. So many people get to participate and stay involved in our lives and vice versa- no matter where we live.
On trips -Jay and I have been to 75 countries and countless cities and towns- we often meet people through our adventures. Jay calls these encounters- a reason, a season or a lifetime. You never know how the person you meet- albeit a fleeting period of time in the scheme of your life will impact the rest of your entire life... or, perhaps just a flickering shadow in the memories of your life.
Our most recent example would be our newest friend -Wayne; we met on the ferry from Ireland to Liverpool. He only takes that ferry twice a year- we happened to be on one of those two voyages. Out of thousands of people aboard, we happend to sit next each other. Rather then remain silent- he started a conversation about our accents and inquired where we were from. As an Irish fellow, he happened to live in the states when he was 16. We ended up chatting for the entire three hour voyage- even while Jay fell asleep in between us. I had plans of playing matchmaker with this delightful, polite single young man with the adorable accent to one of my single friends (you know who you are). He even helped me to entertain (and wrangle) some of the mischievous Irish, and UK baby/toddler girls who wandered around and became friends with Brooklyn and Cali to prevent them from waking Jay up while taking selfies while he slept with his IPAD and giggling. We became friends- and then FB friends- -and now somebody who I might never have seen again will forever be our friends.
I am also reminded of Narayan, our tour guide in Nepal- one of our honeymoon destinations. We spent three days with him and we loved it there, and being in his knowledgeable, warm and inviting company... we promised if we ever went back to scale Mt. Everest or simply eat the delicious local cuisine called MoMos- it would be with him. Imagine a few years later how devastated I was when the earthquake hit Nepal- and how relieved I was when he marked his family safe on FB (I would have always wondered and worried had we lost touch).
Perhaps my biggest reminder is my South African friend "Dad Deon"- who was my tour guide in SA the month before I met Jay. During that trip- My grandmother passed away -and I got extremely sick. Deon was more of a dad to me then my real dad ever was. He cared for me, consoled me, took me to the doctors and insured I felt loved and taken care of....even when I was all the way around the world, without my closest family or friends, I was blessed to have my dear friend Jared- as well as the new friends I made. I of course became FB friends with him and his beautiful wife Vinessa and family and think of them all often- all the way on the other side of the world- but just a click away thanks to Facebook. We are like tech savvy new version of pen pals.
Heck I even met my sister and brother thanks to facebook - but that deserves its own blog. :)
Sure, there are many more people I have met that I have not connected with and may never see again. Times like this, when I am feeing melancholy and thoughtful I think of each of them. I wish them health and happiness and hope that one day, someday our paths might cross again. I am thankful for the evolution of technology- and that people I meet along the way I can connect with and share in this crazy journey we call life. There are so many people I have only met a few times but our lives have become interwoven and they have truly earned a place in my heart (and on my newsfeed).
I am not sure if we will grow old here, or move in a few months. I don't know who will enter my life, or who will leave it... or who will cross my path along the way. I do not know when the first time I meet someone if that is the last- or the beginning of a lifelong friendship... but I hope it is. I hope to know you, I hope that my journey is filled with amazing people like the ones I have been blessed to know so far. I don't know where my destination will take me, or any of us... but I am excited for the journey (and to have YOU in my life...be it a reason, a season, or my lifetime).