I wouldn’t trade my solo journey in Puerto Rico for anything. Likewise, I wouldn’t trade my time with Carolyn in Puerto Rico for anything. I’m a shrewd negotiator so can pull off two zero-sum requirements at once.
Carolyn arrived on Friday and we spent an entire bottle of wine just scratching the surface of catching up. We became friends almost immediately upon me moving to Green Bay in high school. She was my assigned buddy but forgot to pick me up at the office. I always harbored a suspicion she remained friends with me purely from that original guilt, which I’m totally okay with because it resulted in one of the most meaningful relationships in my life.
She is amazing and we are celebrating 21 years of friendship, this year. We met when I was 16. Now, at 37, I have lived more of my life having known Carolyn than not. I credit Carolyn with my first introduction to yoga, to massages, and even to opening my eyes to travel — eventually. In college I genuinely didn’t get why she was so compelled to do study abroad; the wanderlust bug hadn’t yet bitten me.
Now, after 3 weeks alone in Puerto Rico, I had finally processed enough of my ‘stuff’ to bare my soul fully and completely. And, I found myself in the company of somebody compassionate and fierce enough to listen intently and truly hear me. I found validation that my feelings and actions were reasonable and justified. My mind and soul slept soundly.
God, thank you for Carolyn.
We have never been short for words when together — whether in high school or now. Then, it was swing choir, drama club, and boys. Now, it’s corporate strategy, yoga philosophy, and boys. We’re now Lorelai and Sookie. Our pleasantly incessant chatter has had some amazing backdrops.
There was brunch by the ocean, when the jaw-dropping view was eclipsed by a scene straight from a comedic summer blockbuster. A woman running along the beach had her dog off-leash when said dog decided to waltz up the stairs from the beach to the pool and then gingerly traipse across the infinity pool ledge. By this point, the owner had also climbed the stairs and was calling for her dog to ‘come’ — in reality, she may have been using choice Spanish curse words but I believe the intent was ‘here, doggy.’ The dog instead ran off, evading the pool boy and the owner and somehow made it back to the pool ledge. Recognizing its captured status, it decided to take a new path — through the pool. Eventually, Fido’s Pool Party came to a close and the owner exited. I noticed the pool boy swiftly closed the beach to pool area gate to avoid further shenanigans.
There was also the sand and sea at the Marriott beach chairs. After each dip in the ocean, Carolyn and I have the equivalent of a therapy session to understand how the other experienced their time in the water. Carolyn uses words like, “Freedom,” “Happiness,” Wheeeee.” I explain that every moment is like the slo-mo effect that happens in a car crash. There is a constant inner monologue talking me off the cliff of consuming concern, “Josie, just breathe out and the water can’t get in. You are fine. This wave will pass. You are strong.” In my defense, there is a rip tide warning in effect and the waves are larger than they’ve been all trip. To Carolyn’s credit, every time I’m in the ocean her eyes are on me and she’s reaffirming that I am, indeed, doing fine. And, I think I’ve finally made peace with the sand.