- There's a church every 10th of a mile, I swear. I have to agree with my friend Martha's son who opined, when they moved down to Florence, SC 6 years ago, "Mom, the Christians here must not get along very well since they have so many different churches - can't they just worship together?!?!?"
- People down there drive fast - REALLY fast! And very recklessly. People were passing me on double yellow lines on two lane roads with blind spots. Scary!
- The best route, as noted by Google Maps, really is through some of the most quaint little towns I've ever seen - it was a beautiful drive (when I wasn't in fear for my life from the insane drivers!)
- Myrtle Beach is a looooonng way from home, but every mile became more than worth it when I got hugs from Manny & Martha!
Good friends are absolutely the best tonic for what ails you. We laughed, reminisced, looked at old photos Manny had the forethought to bring along, took lots of new photos with three cameras AND three camera phones, and drank lots of wine & tropical drinks - but never got drunk!
I also came to the very sharp realization that what I miss about having a spouse, what I miss about being in love, about being in a relationship, is affection. I miss someone looking at me with love in his eyes. I miss knowing that if something happened to me, I'd be mourned by the person with whom I am more close than anyone else on this earth. I miss cuddling while watching a DVD, sweet soft kisses, and the anticipation of reuniting when one of us has been away for awhile. All of those things had been missing for so very many years during the last half of my marriage, at least. How sad that is, now that I see it in black & white.
That being said, the realization of what I have was just as jarring - I have friends with whom my relationship, despite many years apart, has blossomed and bloomed as beautifully as ever. I had that last summer when George reunited with Sam and me for our MSG reunion, and I experienced it again in living color this past weekend. My friendships, both long-term and newer, are my salvation.
I have friends of all ages, ethnicities, spiritual beliefs, body types, and orientations. I have friends who give THE BEST HUGS in all the universe! I have friends who love me for who I am, despite the fact that I'm 100 lbs overweight and I snore monstrously at night (and Martha managed to share a room with me for three nights!). I don't need a spouse who scorned me because of these things, who abandoned me when I wasn't the 23 year old girl he married. I don't need to feel guilty for being me. My friends love me no matter what. What a relief! What a blessing! What a gift!
So, though I miss romantic affection and some of the trappings of a serious romantic relationship, I don't miss love. Because it surrounds me, always, near or far. If you're reading this and I am fortunate enough to call you my friend, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I love you!!!