Wednesday, August 31, 2016

With Friends Like These......


So I mentioned at the end of my last post (I know, it was so long ago you probably forgot), that I was thinking of changing the name of my blog. Well, as you can see, I went with Hope Boulevard. I am “hoping” that it will embody the direction that I am trying to go.

And I could not think of a better first entry for this new direction.

This past weekend I spent three days/nights on the coast with some of the best people around. We are all members of a Meet Up Group – 40-50 Year Old Singles. We rented a house on Folly Beach. All 16 of us!

It is not the first time the group has taken a trip like this, but it is the first time I have been able to go. I will admit I was a little nervous.  Some of the people I have known from the first minute I joined the group. Others, including my roomie, I had never met before. I am a bit on the introverted side; not always comfortable in groups. I wasn’t exactly sure how I would fit in the mix. But I was excited too and ready to make some memories.

I can’t (and probably shouldn’t) fit all three days’ worth of activities into one blog entry. To be honest, it wasn’t even about the activities. It was about investing time in one another. It is cool once you realize that not being exactly the same as another is not a pre-requisite for friendship. That house held a diverse sampling of humankind. We all grew up in different areas of the country, with various education, economic and religious backgrounds. Our viewpoints are not all alike. What we did all have in common, and in abundance, were open hearts and open minds.

Most of our meals were communal. People working together to create and then share some amazing food. Unless you have experienced that, it’s hard to understand how special that is. Sitting around a table. Sharing stories. Rubbing elbows and souls.

Sunrise was another group gathering. The porch overlooking the ocean had about 7 or 8 rocking chairs. Every morning by 6:30 those chairs were full, and then some, by those of us drinking coffee and welcoming in the day together. In the dim hushed moments watching the skyline brighten with a background ocean chorus; I’m just saying, that is hard to beat.

And while I do not want to name names, I do want to express my gratitude for a few people that impacted and impressed upon my heart.

 To The Co-Directors. This weekend would not have run smoothly without you. The planning. The execution. All your efforts to make sure everyone was safe, happy and fed. What a wonderful team you made.

To Our Walking Encyclopedia. Who may sometimes have needed help from a phone but was always a wealth of information. (Also providing a weekend-long anatomy lesson.)

To Our Official Photographer. Such great shots to memoralize our time together. And even a step beyond to patiently wait for the perfect shot to provide a never-to-be forgotten gift presented in part by strangers to celebrate a milestone birthday.

To the Recipient of that Gift. What a humble and giving spirit you possess. Thank you for sharing your special day with all of us. (And for the music and crab wrestling lessons.)

To Our Resident Love Birds. Your sweetness to each other reminds us of what is good and pure about the relationships some of us still seek.

To Our Free Sprit. You reminded us that life is short. Enjoy. Pursue the moment. Be fearless.

To Our Brave Heart. Despite challenges and difficulties, you are always up to seize the moment. You are cheerful and such an inspiration.

To Our Sparkle. Your laughter lights up a room and/or dark porch. Up for anything with a thirst for knowledge and adventure.

And last but not least… To Our Fearless Leader. Who made all the arrangements, handled most of the annoying details and still chose the lowliest accommodations. You are the heart and soul of this group.

I will admit at times my comfort zone was challenged. I had to walk back opinions and judgments that were unfair mainly because I do not hold a monopoly on being right. I try to put great effort into being empathic and a viewer of the other side of the coin. I hope to always maintain that type of perspective. It is ok to have our ideas and beliefs tested. It is really the only way to know for sure we are committed to them.

As the weekend was winding down Saturday afternoon and I was walking back from the beach I passed an older couple heading out. By older, I am guessing mid-late 70s. The man was carrying a surfboard. There was a storm way out in the ocean and it was causing the incoming waves to be pretty magnificent. I have lived near the east coast most of my life and have never seen them quite so impressive. Surfers came out in car loads to try and catch the perfect party wave together. This particular seasoned surfer  was also carrying a fairly large surfboard. I was surprised and admittedly a little worried about him struggling in that ocean. So as I sat on the porch I watched for him (or specifically his yellow board) amidst the mass of bobbing heads. I saw him wipe out a couple of times and doggedly go out again. His wife was standing on the shoreline, also watching, in an adorable green bikini that I would be envious to wear at 51; much less 71. It wasn’t too long before he gave up his quest. I watched them leave the beach and cross the street right in front of the house. I couldn’t help myself so I went to speak with them a minute. He was winded and disappointed, but spoke of surfing all around the world and winning a few contests along the way. He couldn’t resist another shot at the crest. I told that rather lengthy tidbit to say this.... He has the kind of heart and spirit that was also residing in that beach house this weekend; and one I wish to claim as well. So here’s to another 25+ years of going for it. Being brave. Taking a chance. Loading up a car and driving east (or north, south, west) to spend a few days with friends and even strangers. To savoring every moment.

These people; these friends and housemates of mine exemplify why I started this blog. We are all single, middle-aged, wonderful loving caring people. Sure, we look at life from different angles, filters or lenses, but we all see a beautiful world. And I have the most beautiful friends.


Hope Out!