I guess you can go home again. Or at least get in the vicinity. This past weekend I drove a total of 28 hours to and from an event in Knoxville, Tennessee, which is only about an hour and a half away from our recent home of ten years, Johnson City. Both cities nestle in the spectacular beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I can honestly say I’ve never lived in a prettier place.
I’m good for about 6.5 hours by myself in a car, and after that I resort to hanging my head out the window, singing loudly and badly with the radio, and drinking multiple Arbonne fizz sticks to keep alert and my vehicle on the road. Since it’s 14 hours each way from Dallas to Knoxville, I had to break the trip up. Fortunately, I have two good friends who have settled near the Nashville area, which is only about four and a half hours from Knoxville. Fun Fact: Tennessee is so long that if you live in Johnson City in the upper right corner of the state, you are closer to Canada than to Memphis. Yep, it’s a long sucker. The equivalent of California laying on its side for a nap. So, on the way out to Knoxville, I stayed with my friend Anne who I had not seen for a couple of years, and on the way back with Betsy, who I had seen more recently but had missed an equal amount.
The event itself brought even more friends into my life for a day and a half. They are all business partners as well, but man, we have a good time. It doesn’t feel like work. I love my job, which consists of helping as many people as I can reach their dreams, or at the very least use personal care products that are healthy and not cancer-producing. (*cough* Johnson and Johnson talc lawsuit *cough*). My biz partners/friends and I go to seminars, gather for meals and beverages, and talk and we become better together. My theatre friend Paige also popped down and joined us. She’s a pistol and fits right in. A bunch of us found a great little crepe place for dinner Saturday night in Old Town Knoxville, and we were THAT table. The table I always wanted to sit at growing up when I felt like an outsider and a loner all the time. There I was, getting to be part of a group of people laughing and talking and so comfortable in their skins. Loud and vibrant and fun.
As much as life throws at me, especially the front part of 2017 which has been pretty terrible, this I know: I am rich in friends. Just like a couple of weeks ago when I got to stay with my dear friend Jane in Los Angeles at her Studio City home, I was swept up in gracious hospitality this weekend. In all three of my overnights, we talked and talked and talked, comfortable with any subject. While both of my friends this trip live in the Nashville vicinity with gorgeous homes, they are quite different. One lives in the suburbs, with lovely meandering neighborhood streets and cul de sacs that encourage kids to play outside and ride their bikes and be free. The other home is on acreage with a pond and a forest, “way out in the sticks” as Betsy said. The way to Betsy’s house involves a progression from the highway to a two way to a gravel road to their house and explicit directions like “if you get to the graveyard on the left, you missed the turn”. It was fun getting there, and my Benz didn’t mind the gravel a bit. I got a little lost on the way to Anne’s but lucky for me I have a good sense of direction and Google Maps on my phone so no panicking. I missed my exit for Anne’s because I was listening to a fantastic reading of “The Prisoner of Azkaban” on CD and got swept up in the narration of Harry creating a Patronus. If you perhaps don’t know the Harry Potter series, a Patronus is a magical creature who is able to protect you from frightening monsters who want to suck your soul out of your body. A Patronus is hard to make, but once you have the knack of it, they can be relied to show up when you need them.
My fabulous friends are my Patronii* – they chase away heartbreak and loneliness demons. They fly in on silvery wings shining brightly and make the world better and happier again. I got to be with a whole flock of them this weekend, and have come away feeling wanted and needed and loved, and really what can be better than that?
*not an official plural of Patronus, I made this word up but it felt right. Apologies to the miraculous J.K.Rowling.