Once More Unto the Beach, Dear Friends

Tomorrow I'm going with Johanna to a YouFra meeting downtown, and I've already stressed myself out about it. The driving, the parking, the time commitment, the high likelihood that there will be an overwhelming amount of Catholic nerds there ... deep breath. It could turn out to be just the thing I'm looking for.

This pre-overreaction is a direct result of my post-vacation blues, where I got to spend a whole blessed week with many of favorite people in the entire world in my favorite place in the entire world. Emily, Sue, Nicole, John, Mark, Michael, and Jacob, all collected in a gorgeous sandcastle house one block from the Ocean City, NJ shore. (I took my watch off the moment I arrived, and didn't put it back on until we locked the house for the last time. The tradition continues ...)

There is absolutely NOTHING like gathering around a huge dining room table every night, eight guests strong, for home-cooked meals and excellent conversation. We had all the time in the world to sit and chat. And believe me, we took full advantage of it! It was just tremendous fun.

Since returning home, however, I have been overwhelmed by steady (and unexpected) waves of melancholy, loneliness, and homesickness for--of all places--SU. I forgot how wonderful it feels to have your friends at arm's reach, available any time of day, for conversations and meals and quiet time. It's an incredible support network: You never have to explain and excuse yourself. You simply are. That's why my friendships with these people are such a constant gift, and why every separation--however right or necessary--is poignant and bittersweet.

My friends don't fill my 'God space,' as Eileen would say, but they're pretty damn close to it. So add them to the crashing surf, multi-colored sunsets, and sun-warmed skin, and you're got one miraculous vacation.