I remember spending hours perusing quotes as a teenager, hoping to find one that I spoke to me on some deep level that I could add to the then modern day version of a blog, my AIM profile. Quotes about life, love and everything in between filled the small one-pager, amidst a multitude of random colors, font combos, squiggly asterisks and numerical word substitutions (insert:~*babii CC: 2 cute 2 be 4got10*~).
Back then, one of those quotes, “It’s not where you are but who you’re with that matters,” would have been followed up by initials of my closest friends, some of whom I am still fortunate enough to have in my life. Unbeknownst to my teenaged, pimple-faced self, those words would still hold true, all these years later.
I recently had the privilege to stand by my best friend’s side as she married the love of her life. The past two years since their engagement have been leading up to the memorable day but as I boarded that plane for the trip back south, a wave of emotion, twenty years in the making, hit me harder than the open bar.
True friendships, the ones that last a lifetime, are the rare kind. I am so grateful for the relationships I’ve had since my early days, as well as for the ones built along the way. Although not one to cry, I absolutely lost it sitting in the airport as I prepared to venture back South of the Dixie. Spending a series of days with friends, family, and those that feel like family momentarily tricked me into thinking I missed the place I called home for the majority of my life. The memories and bonds made in that town have always been, and will always be, with me wherever I am. But while the scenery still looks (somewhat) familiar, and the experiences feel the same, everything is so different. People have moved away, and lives have moved on, but this one weekend, with everyone back together, reminded me of the life and people that helped turn me into the person I am today. I don’t miss “home,” I miss the feeling of content felt during the days in that place: the same as I experienced in the days of carefully crafted AIM away messages.
Life changes rapidly and we experience different milestones at varying times. However, it’s those milestones that always bring us back together with our closest, far away friends. Though easy to get caught in the tide, trips back to proverbial house that built me have a way of grounding me and reminding me of how fortunate I am – for the friends, family and experiences I’ve had, or maintained, throughout this journey through life. And for that, I will be forever grateful – for the memories and the moments. And for those I’m with, physically or in spirt, no matter where they may be.