Disney’s The Fox and the Hound put the expression ‘we will be friends forever…’ into my personal vernacular. I was thinking of this yesterday because I was looking at some pictures on my phone.
My phone took me to New York, Alaska, South Beach home and to Italy.
I went to Italy a few years back with a group of friends.
It was truly a life changing trip that redefined amicable relationships, that while not worn, probably needed some sprucing up.
The trip should not have worked.
Our tour guide was incompetent.
Our tour mates were much older than our group.
Our accommodations left much to be desired.
Our ‘included’ meals were mediocre.
Our center of focus was home, newly married and pregnant.
Our transportation was on a motorcoach.
It was the perfect storm.
And it was, by far, one of the best journeys of my life.
I remember chuckling uncontrollably and talking about the most mundane things while sipping wine and dipping bread in oil, oblivious to the clock or time.
I remember walking for hours on end until my feet gave out, but waking up the next day ready to go again, simply asking for more adventure.
I laughed with abandon in churches and prayed in alleyways known as the ‘halls of urine and despair’ walking through deserted streets in a dark and scary Rome.
I saw statues of Mary as a child, as a woman and as the mother of a slain Jesus – artifacts and religion consuming my every view as I walked, somewhat indignant, through the opulence of The Vatican.
I remember giving my tired legs and feet a rest while enjoying a cab ride akin to a roller coaster cart – finally sitting since somebody else was picking up the tab and these were ‘free, wide leather seats.’ – an expression that became known as ‘Let’s take a cab back to the hotel.’
I remember mocking our tour guide, giving her an unplushishable name, Nanny Mc—-, asking her inane questions, watching her get confused (at times even feeling sorry for the poor woman who had to be going through the beginnings of dementia) and just ignoring her suggestions and going off on our own to enjoy the sites of whatever city we were in at the time.
I remember a little restaurant called Le Soste, where I celebrated my birthday and another haunt in Florence called Il Profeta where my friend Elder B decided she could not continue ‘eating this way’.
I remember getting on a chairlift in Capri that made me forget about my fear of heights and any impending death (should my seat plummet off the side of any of these precipices).
But mostly I remember the kinship we felt, the continuous comfortable feeling we enjoyed and how easy it was. Traveling is stressful enough without having to deal with ‘Bitter Betty’ companions. And while we had plenty of opportunities to embrace the dark side of our excursion and we could all embrace our inner Betty, we focused on the fun, the sights and each other.
What made me reminisce about this trip today was a recent conversation I had with one of the Elders about how long we had truly been friends, one of us always focusing on longevity – the other focusing on the quality of the relationship. If I have to be truthful, Italy solidified my relationships to the point that I can almost guarantee (barring the natural course of events of life) that we will be friends for a long time.
In fact, we will be friends forever.