That's 30 years, we figured out last week...wow.
Over those 30 years we've been roommates, co-conspirators, road trip companions, trusted advisers, drinking buddies, counselors, shoulders to lean on and cry on and laugh on, intellectual equals and challengers, spiritual seekers, truth tellers, comedians, commiseraters in love and everything in between...she's family to me. Without question, our bond is as strong as blood.
So when she asked me to drive across the country with her to pick up her father's things (he passed away last year), I didn't hesitate in my response. Of course I would go with her.
While my family is always my first priority, I married a supportive dependable man who adores our kids and is very skilled at spending time with them and finding fun things to occupy their time. And I married a man who loves me and respects my relationships and my sense of obligation to have my friends' backs when they need me.
Oh, how this man blesses me. Seriously, he sometimes seems too good to be true.
So it was armed with my complete trust and faith in Rich (after we were sure it would work logistically for him) that I planned my trip to Jen's place in South Carolina for the road trip of a lifetime.
I flew into Charlotte and then Jen and I (and an old photo of her dad) took off from her house in South Carolina and headed toward New Mexico. She had the trip all planned out and organized and she thought of absolutely everything. She had rented a minivan and she figured we'd split up each 25 hour trip into two days of driving with overnights at nice hotels in Arkansas each way, and she even arranged a three day layover in Albuquerque at the home of an old family friend who still lives there.
Over 50 hours on the road, 3,200 miles driven, 7 states covered (not including my trip from Ohio to South Carolina), 1 train to Santa Fe for the day, 1 policeman who kindly told us our tire was nearly flat in the middle of Nowhere Texas, 1 hero in a tow truck who saved us at least a few hours of daylight, a couple bottles of wine, and many discoveries and adventures along the way...like I said, the road trip of a lifetime.
We saw steep winding lush mountains, wide rivers that are so iconic they have their own songs, miles of spiny fluffy brown and white cotton fields, barren stretches of land scattered with skinny longhorns, one very "Big Texan", city lights sprawling out for miles, deserts and mesas sprouted with thorny bushes and tumbleweed, acres of wind farms with towering wind turbines that were industrial and graceful at the same time, pueblo homesteads dotting the New Mexico landscape, and everything in between. The beauty of all of that wide open space, flat horizons and endless blue skies that seemed to stretch to the farthest reaches of the earth was something to behold.
Truly. I'll never forget the stark magnificence of it.
Throw in all the quality time spent with my soul sister who I only see three times a year tops, and, well, it was a very special trip for me. I feel blessed by Jen that she asked me to make the trip with her. Honestly, there are few people in this life who I would want to make a 50-hour road trip with, and my girl Jen is at the top of that list. I love you to disgusting degrees, sucka!
So today and everyday I thank God for these amazing, inspiring, important people he's put into my life and for the incredible opportunities he gives me to learn and to grow closer to those people and to him and to see more of this staggeringly beautiful place he's given us to call home.