Changes in Latitude

I have a friend I’ve known since the 5th grade, which would make it a twenty-five year friendship. Eek—I remember my parents used to say, “I’ve known such-and-such for twenty-five years! He was the best man at my wedding!”

Needless to say, it makes me feel old to have friends for that long. But better that than no friends at all, I guess.

She and I have sometimes gone months without talking, not for any particular reason, I get busy, she gets busy, I move, she moves, I call her parents for her number, her parents move, etc. etc. etc. We always get in touch, and stay in touch, until the next change of number, address, or job. She lives in a different city, so we only see each other a few times a year, but it’s always fun to get together, and my mother’s nickname for us: The Silly Sisters, lives on. We still get very goofy together, and she is one of the few people who stuck with me through my totally geeky times (yes, yes, they’re not over yet, ha ha) and we remain friends despite that…maybe because of that, I’m not sure.

She's had a few jobs (not as many as I have—SO THERE) some boyfriends, some good friends, and some good times. However, like many of us at one time or another in our lives, she has Still Not Found What She’s Looking For, to paraphrase U2. She gets happy for awhile, then decides that in her heart of hearts, what she’s doing is not doing it for her, for whatever reason.

Now the really cool thing about her is, she does something about it. Unlike some people, when she decides she’s had enough of a certain place, she moves on. How many people stay in the same job, the same relationship, the same city or small town, just because it’s easier than making a Major Life Change? Stagnancy (or stewing, as I used to call it) must be at the root of so much unhappiness for so many people.

Before we had children and a mortgage, John and I used to have a happy little daydream that we’d sell all our stuff and move to the Caribbean. Maybe find a cool little joint to bartend in, or as in Don’t Stop the Carnival by Herman Wouk, buy a broken-down old resort. In our daydream, we would just find some magical job, something that would at least keep a roof over our heads and food (not to mention margaritas) in our bellies and groove in the tropics, mon.

Well my Silly Sister is doing just that. She’s found a groovy situation that will keep a roof over her head, and will go down to the islands and just ‘be’. She’ll do some writing, some reflection, and just generally experience that part of life that so many of us would love to say we tried. Will she stay forever? Probably not. But it’s a pretty good way to pass some time, and come this winter when I’m digging my car out of hip-deep snow (okay, when John's digging my car out of hip-deep snow), maybe we’ll think about paying her a little visit. (Ow, ow, twist my arm.)

Who knows where this will lead? Maybe she’ll write the Next Great Caribbean Novel. Perhaps it will just be a nice break in the sun for awhile. Regardless, I’m sure she’ll experience life in a whole new way, and have the memories to prove it.

So raise a cyber-glass to my girlfriend, and rather than a toast (which I’m embarrassingly bad at), I’ll honor her with a snippet of a Jimmy Buffett tune that seems to fit the occasion. Adios, amiga, may your heart be full, and your glass never (ever) empty.

I know I don't get there often enough
But God knows I surely try
It's a magic kind of medicine
That no doctor could prescribe
I used to rule my world from a pay phone
And ships out on the sea
But now times are rough
And I got too much stuff
Can't explain the likes of me
But there's this One Particular Harbour
So far but yet so near
Where I see the days as they fade away
And finally disappear
But now I think about the good times
Down in the Caribbean sunshine
In my younger days I was so bad
Laughin' about all the fun we had
I've seen enough to feel the world spin
Mixin' different oceans meetin' cousins
Listen to the drummers and the night sounds
Listen to the singers make the world go 'round.

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