When I left Europe in the 90s, I wish I could have seen more – Greece, London, Scandinavia – but I did explore small towns (see Volksmarching from February 2015) and enormous views (see In the Shadow Of A Tower from January 2013) during the two years abroad. Likewise, when I left Florida, I checked off almost every nook and cranny from the bottom of the Keys (see The Florida Keys from August 2014) to the tip of the Panhandle (see The Next Chapter from November 2011). On the couple of occasions when I have gone back to the Sunshine State, the visits were brief, some less than forty-eight hours (see Michael from March 2021), primarily designed to see family and one or two friends. I like to fly under the radar, or in these couple cases, drive.
On my last visit, nearly a year into the pandemic, while waiting to bump into someone I planned to see, I unexpectedly bumped into two people I did not expect to see. Most assuredly, they did not expect to find me along this trail in the middle of a weekday. In between the upbeat songs of the outdoor background music, we exchanged smiles and surprises. Like me, they took an unannounced day off and even switched from a bike ride to a scenic walk along the same trail I selected on this day. Like stumbling upon a roadside attraction that wasn’t part of my original travel plan (see Beautiful Beasts from February 2012), crossing paths with these two friends brightened my warm day and reminded me that sometimes, the universe thinks you need to bump into old friends. Thanks, universe!
The departure date of my Superhero’s travel abroad slices right into the middle of my Florida excursion. He was supposed to join me here, but now he will leave while I am on the return drive (see Sliding Days And Sliding Doors from March 2021). As if we haven’t worked hard enough during our relationship that we should be able to enjoy a simple road trip together, I can’t yet know that his overseas project will be cut short and only last three months. Today, though, I still wish we could be sitting together, walking along this trail together, meeting up with my friends or my son together. We instead are now separated for what we expect to be two years. I already miss being with the man I love. Thanks for nothing, universe.
Again, it’s warm today, and I realize I left my bottle of water on the bench, and I go back to retrieve it. I again cross paths with my friends as they head home, watching them walk away hand in hand. As the background music changes tone, they are already a step ahead of Elvis’ sentiment as he reminds all those in earshot to “Take my hand.” The classic melancholy song makes me think of the beautiful man being taken away by his work, “Take my whole life too.” Still, how unbelievably lucky am I to have someone to hold my hand through life? I stand alone on this sunny day in the Sunshine State crying, seeing two people in love, grateful for the same. Thanks, universe, for reminding me of what I have. “I can’t help falling in love with you.”