I have a Mary Englebreit poster that I love, it is called "Don't Look Back" with a little girl walking down a path with a fork in the road. The sign post on the fork says, "This Way" pointing one way, and "No Longer an Option" pointing the other way. (This is such a great metaphor for life in general. Tried to show it in this post, but no luck! Go the Mary Engelbreit store under Art-posters, and you can see what I'm referring to. I tried to give a link, but I'm challenged in this area, and it didn't work 10 times in a row, so I gave up.)
Life's twists and turns have sent me down many roads, and one of the more adventursome and life-changing forks sent me down the country roads to live in rural mid-Missouri for about 10 years. At first, the living was just as a week-end home owner of a lakefront home. This was a play house, where we went each weekend to play in water, eat bar-be-que, fish and relax from the stresses of city life. Neither myself or My Late Sweetie were retired, so living here full-time was a dream for the future.
Then, in 1997, an opportunity arose that made living in "Small Town Missouri" full time a reality for me. The local Cathlic Parish wanted to re-open their Catholic School and were looking for a principal. Why not, I said to myself, and that was it. The fork in the road was one where going the other way was "No Longer An Option".
I lived there for 7-1/2 years as a full time resident. I loved the work, and met so many wonderful people while I lived and worked there. We had our challenges, but going through the challenges together with friends made it much more bearable. Sweetie and I bought another country estate, with a big house and our own lake, and lots of trees, his dream house, for sure. But when the Swetie got sick, we had to move back to the city, to be near medical services and help from our kids, something that sends a lot of country living retirees back to their city roots.
But my friends down there are such excellent friends, we IM each other, email each other, share in woes and joys with each other, and occasionally get to see each other! I've kept going to my trusted eye doctor down there, driving right past 20 eye doctor's offices 4 blocks from my house. Part of the reason is that I trust this man, he and I discuss options for treatment, and his staff is warm and friendly. The other reason is that it gives me a legitimate excuse to drive 200 miles round trip to visit with my friends!
Yesterday's trip to the eye doctor was just like that. After my appointment, I met my bestest ever friend from Small Town at her home on the lake and she and I shared lunch and much private conversation. Then her neighbor came over, and we shared a bottle of wine and some good laughs together! After our visit, which was way too short for my tastes, I met my other bestest friend after she was finished with work, and we met for dinner. She invited the current principal of the little school to join us, and we had another 2-1/2 session, with dinner as the sidebar, jabbering, lamenting, exchanging laughs. It was wonderful to be with these beloved people for an afternoon.
On the way home, I noticed my leg was going numb from sitting for so long! Doesn't matter, the pain and stiffness were worth it to be with good friends and share conversation and experiences, just like I would be doing if I still lived there.
No Longer an Option---I guess it is no longer an option to live in Small Town MO again, but I sure can relive the memories and continue with the friendships, no matter if I live 100 miles away now. Our hearts are still very close!