This past weekend I drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco to attend an anniversary party. Yes, it was a schlep. Six hours in the car on Saturday and five and a half hours of driving on Monday. But I didn’t want to spend the money on flights, airport parking, etc. so I bit the bullet, loaded my iPod with an audio book and music, and got behind the wheel.
And despite the hours in the car, it was totally worth it.
I was able to celebrate my friends’ 30 years of marriage; I reconnected with people at the party who I hadn’t seen in 19 years; I met some lovely new people; the food was great – but most importantly – to me – I honored the connection with people I care about.
In fact, the entire weekend was about connections. I stayed with friends I had taught with for three years. And it felt so natural to be with them. After sharing an office and each other’s lives on a daily basis, there’s a comfort level and closeness that distance doesn’t diminish. I treasured the opportunity to catch up, laugh, hang out with them.
And I drove to my old neighborhood to see some dog park friends. (Anyone who goes to the dog park every day knows how easily those friendships bloom.) I was thrilled by the joyful greeting I got from Louie, the basset hound, and walking on the familiar trails with my friends was the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
On the long drive home I contemplated the weekend. In our digitally connected world it’s so easy to text, Skype, email, or call friends that staying in touch is almost effortless. But celebrating an important milestone, sharing a meal, taking a walk together – there is no virtual substitute for those experiences.
Sometimes you just have to show up. There is real joy in being there.