The Journey

My friend Maria was waiting for me at my house when I got home from work the other night.

“Let’s go out for a drink,” she said as she waited for me to unlock the front door and then walked in the house behind me.

I didn’t want to. The last thing I felt like doing after a long, busy night of running around on my feet all night at work, serving and talking to people, was to go out for a drink and socialize some more. I was beat. Tired. I smelled of kitchen grease and gourmet seafood dishes. I had chocolate smudges on my hands leftover from the bread pudding we serve for dessert with the early bird dinners. My hair was a mess. My face was glossy. And all I wanted to do was eat and take a shower.

“Come on, just one drink,” she said. “I’ll drive.”

There wasn’t much persuading to do with me. But there never really is with Maria. It’s always an adventure when I’m with her—a guaranteed good time. Been that way since high school, and I doubt it will ever changed. She’s always on the move, always up for adventures and always down to try new things. Aside from that, she can’t sit still for very long, so I knew the night would take us to a few different places. I hadn’t seen Maria in a week or two, so naturally I decided to go out for a drink with her.

We went to Coconut Cove, and I was excited that there was no line greeting us as we pulled up and parked alongside the joint. The parking lot had only a few cars in it, and I figured tonight would be low-key—a chill, casual spot where we could sit and talk, relax and catch up on the recent events having occurred in both of our lives.

We did just that, deciding to settle at a table away from the crowded bar in the corner, by the bay. She talked as I sipped. I talked as she sipped. And before I knew it, we were finished our first round of drinks.

We sat for a while after that with no drinks at all, and Maria noticed a change in me. Sitting by the bay, looking out over the island, watching the moon reflect light out onto the water had changed my perspective for the night. Who wouldn’t be relaxed?

“You feeling better now?” she asked me.

I felt like a million bucks.

“It’s kind of dead here,” I said back. “Let’s go somewhere else.”

“Cape May it is.”

We got back in her car and drove through the islands to get to Cape May. We listened to some new songs on her iPod. We sang at the top of our lungs—screamed, really. Then an old jam came on next on her shuffle. The strum of the guitar from “The Long Way Around” by the Dixie Chicks echoed through the speakers.

It was our favorite song back in high school, and we’d listen to it for hours as we drove around in her car, going nowhere in particular. Pretty much like that night. It was our favorite thing to do together—drive around in her car. We hadn’t done it in a while, and we both knew it. So we decided to skip going out to a bar in Cape May to continue the harmless fun we were having simply by listening to music and driving around the islands.

It turned out to be a good night. We cruised around Cape May, and as Maria drove, I looked out the window at all the old buildings, all the old places where we used to hang out when we were younger. It brought back memories. My mind wandered and raced when we would stop at a red light, and I’d see another spot. A trip down memory lane, I’d like to call it. With a friend who was there with me for all of it. Doing what we were doing tonight—setting out to drive nowhere in particular. But the simple fact that we set out at all was enough for us. As Maria likes to quote, “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.”

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