Christmas eve, 2012, or as it's called here at home, Noche Buena... Blessed, or "good" night.
It is good indeed, for we are home, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
After two years of a self-imposed hiatus, a cameo at the family Christmas shindig was a must. :) In all seriousness, where else would I want to be, need to be, at this time of the year. No offense to my adoptive homes of Christmas past, but to me, Christmas does come in the form of open toe shoes, sleeveless LBDs and a lot of bling! But, child, please, I draw the line at the palm tree with lights on. Bring me a blue spruce any day, even if it's plastic. SMILE.
For the last three days I have been catching up with family and friends, re-connecting with the culture in the island that watched me grow. Even though I have had to wrap myself in patience and embrace the 90% humidity that allows for creativity to kick in the "my hair will be up in a ponytail for the next 5 days" department, I am good. I am home.
We got here on Friday and it's already Monday. The time does fly when you are having fun, or watching movies with Pops, the bro and the kid. Somethings sure don't change in two years, or four, or ten. Others, they sure do. As we get older and are more experienced in life, relationships, life, and, (did I mention life already?) everything that comes with it, responsibilities and ups and downs, appreciation kicks in. The cool thing, at least for me, is that I appreciate the little things, those things, or people that you don't get to see or embrace every day.
Two nights ago, my dearest friends, all proud University of Dayton graduates, some roommates, others almost roommates, fake roommates, you name it, loved friends, and I, got together for our usual gathering. Like two of them said, they only get together when I come to visit, so as the responsible party for this example of quality over quantity, I MUST come home more often. We laughed, we could have cried- some tears came but from laughter!- and candid and honest conversations were shared. On my part, and to quote the great Ricky Ricardo, this Lucy had "a lot of eesssplaining to do!" Moves, changes of jobs, custody battles, you have heard it all, but they had not, not all. And they, my friends and co-conspirators in all things college, are the mirrors I can't ever avoid. I look at them and they reflect myself, my thoughts, my heart, my feelings. They not only know me, but they get me. Talking to them was like talking to myself and guess what, myself answered back! :)
As friends we have all known each other for twenty-plus years, starting with a random trip to visit UD and Xavier U. our senior year in high school. Who would have known that for some of us, our lives were about to change forever. Not only we all decided to enroll in the place that would educate, challenge, thrill and even bore us at times, we all, collectively, welcomed the daring invitation to an adventure that would take us hundreds of miles away from our families. To that, we said "bring it!"
The transformative years as university undergraduate and graduate students, taught us to live, love, cry, study, ask questions, search for truth, OUR own truth and our purpose in life. Admittingly, some of us figured ourselves out quicker than others, but nevertheless, and while we all took very different paths upon our "St. Elmo's Fire" time ended, the memories remain. CUE "St. Elmo's Fire" theme song- classic David Foster.
As adults we have gotten married, had babies, divorced, found loving life partners, rented, owned, loved and lost. We have agreed and disagreed, but most important, agreed to disagree. We don't judge, because we have learned that it only hurts us. We are not perfect. We wouldn't change anything about any of us----except for the claim that one of my friends made of the non-negotiable need for THEM to have a say in who I date next, for I clearly have issues- LOL!!!---- I love them all. They are the sisters I didn't have and the brothers I CHOSE to have. Three of us have kids the same age. Three of us have lost our mothers. We have lost jobs, gotten promoted, started our own businesses, jumped started careers more than once. We love music, but have a unique and random fascination with the Indigo Girls. Don't ask, just love us. :)
Being a University of Dayton graduate means you have been exposed to the meaning of the word community. Community is about the members and the impact each member has, with his/her gifts and talents, on the greater community in this world. I am proud to be a member of this, some might say, small community. Each of us lived our UD experience to the fullest, in different ways, but as a tight, cultural unit, together. And so, here we are twenty -plus years later, making our worlds better places for those we touch every single day.
Dear friends of the time that has not been forgotten, from the land of Lawnview, and College Park and, Alberta! The land of the Joseph's and the Jesse Phillips and the Myriam's and Kettering Hall's. Where we jumped over the rainbow taking the magical mystery tour making stops at the Shed, that old Blue Moon Saloon and the still-standing, classy, checkered floored Timothy's. May WE continue to be in each others lives, in each other's hearts. May the memories we shared continue to bring us laughter, tears, and the joy de vivre we embraced so long ago!
Merry Christmas to all! Family and friends. To all who have friends who are part of your families, hug and hug a lot, love and love hard, laugh and laugh often. Live, ALWAYS, and live fully.