Last day full day here, breezy and cool, but sunny. We drive up the 5 to San Clemente, to meet up with one of my friends of longest duration, whom I have not seen for many years. He and I met in 7th Grade, only six days apart in age, both drummers in the school band, although he was actually extremely good and I was just almost competent. He was funny and smart, filled with confidence and talent, not afraid of what anyone thought. His dad had a PANTERA, J.f.C.! Such a star, in our little Wisconsin junior high school. In 9th grade, his dad got transferred to California, and we were all so stunned and sad. There was no one else like him, and we missed him so much.

But today, we are reunited at the San Clemente Pier, and he carries his adorable 2-year-old girl in his arms. He is one of those friends where we can just pick up where we left off, no matter the time span or changes in our lives. That is such a nice thing. We mess around on the pier for awhile, then drive to a cool little Mexican restaurant for lunch, then head off to Dana Point, the town he moved to when he left Wisconsin.

It is such a beautiful place, so dramatic with yellow cliffs and trees bent in graceful twists from the ocean breezes, big dark brown rocks sticking out of the clean green water. I wondered if the people who live there can truly appreciate how pretty it is, or if they just get used to it and it becomes everyday, common, normal. I mention to my friend, as we walk past the Ocean Institute and its tall sailing ships to the beach, that us poor saps left to rot in the Midwest thought he was the luckiest guy in the world, to be able to move to CALIFORNIA as a TEENAGER. How could anything be better than that?

Much to my surprise, he tells me it was awful, and he was miserable. The popular beloved kid in Wisconsin became the uncool misfit in pretty Dana Point. He missed us as much as we missed him, and all the lovely views and nice weather made no difference at all. I had no idea, until today. After a couple of years, he switched over to an alternative school, a better fit, and regained his natural happy and optimistic self again.

So much in life comes down to the meaningful connections we make with people.

Late in the afternoon, my friend and his daughter had to get back on the road up to Los Angeles, and I thanked him for coming to see me and showing me part of his old life. I know I will see him again, hopefully much sooner than nine years, and it will be easy and fun, and we will learn a little bit more about each other once more. I suspect he sees the 12-year-old in me as I see in him still, and that is a real pleasure, to know it is all still there.