Boca Grande

There are places we only get to see once in our lives. We say hello; we pass by. And then there are the places to which we return again and again until they are written in our bones.

We only get a few of these in life.

They are the place equivalent of our very best friends. The ones you were lucky enough to stumble into, and would never be fool enough to let go of. The ones that soak in over many many years, if we’re lucky, a lifetime.

Boca Grande, Florida is one of mine.

This crane was a real dandy.

I’m here with my mom on a very undeserved vacation. My only excuse is that I can’t legally work in Canada, so…

Anyway, the ocean and I had some catching up to do.

Oh, how I’ve missed her.

Boca Grande is the smell of Coppertone sunscreen and hair full of saltwater dried in the sun. It is freckles you forgot you had gathering on your nose. Loose tank tops blowing in the breeze, white sand, excited dolphin sightings, my mom’s salads–with hearts of palm, artichoke hearts and avocados topped with olive oil and lemon juice–and an endless supply of La Croix mineral water in cans.

It is playing tennis with Dad, even though I’m terrible after another whole year of not playing and reading books, with Mom, and a thousand other traditions and memories….

..and comparing last night’s sunset to tonight’s.

And an ice cold beer to toast the moment the sun melts into the horizon, knowing how good you have it, and drinking it all up–every last drop.

Goodnight, Sun.

Boca Grande is an ocean as still as glass.

The same old pier languishing–picture perfect–in the water.

And endless blue.

The ocean and I, we have an ancient conversation. How can this water know me so well while remaining an eternal mystery to me?  What a funny feeling to return to this shore year after year–and feel the same to the core, and yet entirely different.

Some notes from Graham and Clinton’s Wedding

For me, college was all about girlfriends.

Me, LL and the bride, Graham.

I went to a southern public university, and I was never really interested in the boys and they were never really interested in me. For four years, this made me wonder what in the dickens was wrong with me.  But no matter. I’m glad I had four years of boys on the side.

Because these girls? There’s just nothing like ’em.

Now there are boys around.

The bride and her groom.
Dan and his boyfriend Robbie.

But we still have a world–and memories–that are all our own.

Graham, Sky, Callie and LL. In the Bonds.

After all, we’ve known each other longer than they’ve known us. Going on 14 years to be exact.

We have spread out over the country: north, east, west. And as much as we try to resist the tug of our adult lives, we see each other less often.
But we’re still here.
And there are still weddings.
Beautiful Graham!

Sometimes, I wish I could turn back the clock to that little bubble of time.  When it was all about us. Drinking too much Natty Light out of obnoxious sorority cups. Studying late into the night while gorging on gummy candies and Diet Cokes. Sneaking away for cigarette breaks. The days of ridiculous road trips to Florida nipping on vodka in the back seat, singing Jesse’s Girl and Pour Some Sugar On Me and the Gourds’ version of Gin n’ Juice. Dancing like our lives depended on it.

Kelly and Mary Lorraine!

But I think that’s what made it special–that is was a bubble and we only got it once.

And now we have this, which is just as good, maybe better.  It’s harder sometimes, but we know who we are.  These weddings mean so much to us because we remember what it took to get there.  We called each other with devastating crushes and broken hearts; we talked about our dreams, worried we would never get jobs, called again when we got into grad school or decided to move or stay put and when we fell in love.

Maybe we knew each other before we ever really knew ourselves.

Anyway, we can still dance like silly people and belt out Hey Ya! with the best of them.

We can still stay up too late, sit on each other’s bed, talk about everything and nothing for hours on end, and drink that last beer (or two) that we really don’t need.

That’s the thing about old friends–you pick up right where you left off.

It’s just that now we have to say goodbye, fly back to our corners of the world, and start wishing for the next reunion. Sometime. Sometimes soon, I hope.