In my attempt to get organized on paper, I dug out an old sketchbook a dear friend gave me before moving back to Miami a couple years ago. Stuffed inside the cover I found one of the first letters she sent after moving back along with another letter from another dear friend shortly after she moved home from Boston. There's not much like a handwritten letter - everybody knows that - and having a moment to soak in these two lovely ladies even as they are far, far away made me inhale a bit deeper today, exhale a bit slower and with a smile.
It wasn't just a reminder of an earlier time, but of a previous me: I was living in a different apartment then; I hadn't yet met my boyfriend; I hadn't found my first job and stopped working as a bartender; I was younger, and yet to learn so many of the lessons that stumbled over one another to whomp me over the head in the following years. I had no idea what was coming at me, but I knew that I had these wonderful friendships, these women whose strength inspired my own, whose wisdom shone on the knowledge I often didn't think I possessed. And that was enough to get me through.
I am a different person these days, with different priorities, different routines, different tastes. But I am very familiar and very fond of who I was before, who I was then.