I just returned from a week in California after moving to Arizona two months ago. It was a chance to reunite with old friends while retreating at the ocean in Bodega Bay, enjoying the fall colors of the wine country in Napa Valley, and getting together over coffee and lunch in my old neighborhood of the San Francisco East Bay.
I experienced a whirlwind of emotions while visiting with 19 wildly wonderful women during my 144-hour visit. I traveled over 350 miles, slept in 4 different homes, ate at 8 different restaurants, saw 6 horses galloping on the beach, received 2 massages, watched 3 movies, took 4 walks along the coast, relished the beauty of 3 gorgeous sunsets over the ocean, went hot-tubbing 1 time, had breakfast on the patio 1 time, rescued 1 stray dog, and completed 17 scrapbook pages in the family photo album – all while capturing many moments of joy in 33 pictures.
But it isn’t really about the quantity of the things I did. It’s about the quality. I didn’t just bounce from place to place and person to person. I spent precious time celebrating priceless friendships for which I am grateful. I shared stories, worries, and dreams with women who chose to carve out time for me in their extremely full schedules. I laughed, cried, and then laughed some more with those I feel blessed to have in my life. With these friends, I share a bond, a relationship that gives us permission to be ourselves, show up authentically, keep our hearts open, shine our lights brightly, and accept ourselves for who we are, not who others believe we should be.
I return to my new home in Arizona with a heavy heart wondering how I will keep these friendships alive. Then I look at the 33 photographs and I see the freckled faces, sensitive spirits, huge hearts, and silly smiles – and I am filled with gratitude for not the quantity of time shared but for the quality of memories made.