I've visited Sarasota many times since I left almost two years ago, but things seemed different this weekend. I'm not talking about the excessive building downtown and eastward. Nor the insane traffic. But the difference was the peace I found.
And I guess that's what awesome friends are for: to help remind you who you are.
I made the trip to attend my friend Nicole's wedding. I briefly lived with her and we've worked together, too. We've taken two adventures, one to Washington, D.C. over a Fourth of July weekend and the other to see Jimmy Carter teach Sunday School in Plains, Ga.
I've always considered Nicole one of my little sisters. I'm proud of her life accomplishments and am happy my Lil' Sista has grown up and got married!
Stephanie is my Big Sista because I wasn't born with one. When I moved to Sarasota she took me under her wing, both in work and socially. She and her husband Den have been my rock, through the good, bad and not so pretty. I'm lucky to have them in my life.
"Kashi" [American name: Kathy] is one of my team members from my Oct. 2004 trip to Japan and made the drive up from North Port to see me. We spent the afternoon at the Sarasota County Fair and a downtown crafts festival. Had to visit the fair, full of foods on sticks, including the deep fried Twinkie she's holding.
And then of course, there's Grandma, who had breakfast cooking for me this morning and sent me home with homemade cookies and Easter chocolates. What diet???
There wasn't time to see everyone but someday soon, I'll stay longer. To my Sarasota buddies, thanks for help making my world go 'round.