I have a tradition that started when I turned 50. Every year since then, around my birthday, I drive to Jacksonville, Florida to visit my friend Mary. This year, on my birthday, Mary and I took a day trip to St. Augustine.
Here’s the thing, my birthday is in January. Always has been. It’s cold where I live in January. Not so much in Florida. Typically, I don’t visit my friend on my actual birthday, but this year there were some circumstances that led me to visit just a wee bit earlier, and I was there on my birthday. The weather was great in St. Augustine!
The day was crisp and gorgeous, a perfect way to spend my birthday, and yet it wasn’t.
My friend is amazing in her support and encouragement. She wants the best for me, sometimes more than I want it for myself.
And this particular birthday, due to circumstances I neither wanted or ever expected, I needed just that. Visiting her was what I needed on this birthday, this year.
We had lunch on the balcony of this historic building overlooking a body of water near the historic part of town. That’s the thing about this trip; it was good, but I don’t remember much about it. I didn’t take notice of much that we did. I just enjoyed the light breeze on my skin as we strolled down the cobblestone streets, and the warmth of the sun, because I knew I was going back to cold in just two days and it would be awhile before I would feel that sensation again.
And I was right. This was what I went home to. It felt fitting somehow, because this year, this set of circumstances felt very much like Winter in my soul, which is another story for another time.
This trip that I took reminded me of the vacation my family and I took to Disney World in September 2001. We were at EPCOT on 9/11 (see Remembering 9/11) when our country was attacked by terrorists. In fact, we were evacuated from the park, although at the time we didn’t know why. It seemed odd and unfitting to be on vacation while the rest of the country was forever changed and so many people had lost so much.
This was a similar trip for me but on a very minor scale in comparison.
St. Augustine is a wonderful city full of history and attractions. I want to visit again one day when I know I will appreciate the oldest city in our nation more than the trip on my birthday.
But at that time in January, St. Augustine and my friend provided a warmth and distraction that was balm to my soul.