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Walking Through The Door

Last weekend was my first real trip since 2019. I packed a suitcase, held the mail, flew in an airplane, and stayed in a hotel.

In March 2020, my youngest daughter met two friends online through a mutual friend here, the same month our country was shut down due to COVID. She has communicated with these friends via text, Facetime, video games, and phone calls over the last three years. They have been through many ups and downs together. They have provided unrivaled guidance. They appeared in Ella’s life just when she needed a friend the most.

When one of her friends invited Ella to attend their quinceanera, we made the reservations and decided to treat it as a mini-vacation.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to bring you along.

My favorite part of O’Hare Airport

These shells were used as mulch outside of a restaurant.

Florida sunsets are beautiful

This was the moon as we stood in the ocean on the first night. For some reason, it made me emotional.

Beautiful Atlantic Ocean at dusk

Ellie and her friend looking for shells an hour after meeting for the first time in person

My daughter and her friend hit it off right away, as I expected. Her friend was caring, protective, and kind.

Mike and I set our alarms for 6:30 a.m. the following morning in order to watch the sunrise.

This video makes me so happy. Humans humaning. Watching the sunrise, walking their dogs, and drinking coffee.

I make bird friends wherever I go.

Light filtering through the window of the lobby of the hotel.

Mike and I had a drink on the patio overlooking the ocean while Ella and her friend swam in the pool. This evening, we also got to witness a sunset wedding. So beautiful.

I love it when photographs capture laughter

This trip was all about meeting up with online friends. My friend Brian and I met over five years ago while playing the game Song Pop. We were almost on a game show with Jamie Foxx. Another story for another time. But we reasoned that we were too good at the game and would have cost them a lot of money, so we weren’t chosen.

This weekend was our first chance to meet in person, and it was a lot of fun.

I mean, it looks like Lake Michigan, but whatever. Kidding.

As nice as Destin (where we typically go in Florida) was, I realized that being on the Atlantic Ocean is very different from being on the Gulf of Mexico. We saw a lot of surfers this weekend, which was fun to watch.

“What is that loud noise?” I asked Mike when we first arrived. 
The ocean. That is how the ocean sounds. 
The waves are much more powerful here. It felt very different here. Not better, but different.

Cemetery kitty

Historic Saint Augustine reminded me of New Orleans. Mike and I went for a walk early one morning and did some exploring.

Historic Saint Augustine

Restaurant in historic Saint Augustine

Shop in Saint Augustine. We were here too early, so we couldn’t go inside.

We spied in the rental car before picking Ellie up from the quinceanera. This photo of Ellie and her friends turned out really cool. On the far left, you can kind of see her friend’s beautiful red quinceanera dress.

I got the last of the sun on my face before flying home while Mike was filling up the rental car. I was ready to go. I was missing my dogs and my home.

I was going to show a photo from the airport and talk about the worst of humanity. People who were lining up with the wrong ticket, complaining about having to wait. I got caught up in it despite my best efforts. That irritates me.

But instead, I’d like to share a poem that felt very appropriate for this trip and the story of Ella’s friends and what they’ve all been through together.

It is said that before entering the sea

a river trembles with fear.

She looks back at the path she has traveled,

from the peaks of the mountains,

the long winding road crossing forests and villages.

I took this from the middle seat, so it’s a little blurry. As we fly in, we can see the Chicago skyline. That looks a lot like the ocean to me…

And in front of her,

she sees an ocean so vast,

that to enter

there seems nothing more than to disappear forever.

I missed you, furry being. More than you realize.

But there is no other way.

The river can not go back.

Nobody can go back.

To go back is impossible in existence.

Actually, I think they realize.

The river needs to take the risk

of entering the ocean

because only then will fear disappear,

because that’s where the river will know

it’s not about disappearing into the ocean,

but of becoming the ocean.

Fear by Kahlil Gibran

Ella and her friends had a wonderful time. They were everything she had hoped for and more.

My daughter and her other friend were summoned outside the quinceneara to accompany the guest of honor into the party when they first arrived. Their friend needed a little extra courage to walk through the door.

It felt like a metaphor for the last three years of their friendship. Walking each other through various life events. Lifting each other up and guiding them through various doorways.

I am so grateful for these humans in my daughter’s life.

Some argue that online friends aren’t the same as real friends. I’m here to tell everyone that this is simply not true. They may be the most genuine friends you’ll ever have.

I should know…😘

53 thoughts on “Walking Through The Door”

  1. Online friends are every bit as real! Maybe even more so. People share feelings and experiences on their blogs that they might not feel comfortable doing in real life. You can get to know a person deeply from their writing. This has been my experience. Glad you had a wonderful trip, Kari!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. That looks like a wonderful trip…so glad you were able to take it. We enjoyed our stay in St.Augustine and loved the historic section… though the traffic and crowds can be a bit much. Beautiful sunrise video!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh your pictures and word capture this mini-vacation beautifully. I’m so glad Ella had a wonderful time with her friends! It makes such a difference!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Online friends are the only real friends I have. The closest ones I have met with in person anyway.

    When I spied Lake Michigan the first time, I was amazed at how ocean-like it is. The Great Lakes truly impress and inspire me…and I spent most of my life in close proximity to an ocean!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, after the blog party you’re throwing this summer (see the comment I just left on your blog), you’ll have a LOT more in-person friends.

      I always enjoy seeing the reactions of people who have never seen a Great Lake in person. They have no idea how large it is.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh Kari. This made my heart literally swell with happiness. This is just so wonderful; I am glad Ellie got to experience her friend’s important milestone, I am so glad you got to meet up with friends and feel the sun on your face and hear the waves of the ocean. Everything about this was uplifting and heart-filling. Thank you so much for sharing your story and for being you, wonderful you.
    That poem, ah! It speaks directly to my heart. xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This post makes me so happy! For you getting to go on a vacation, especially to a warm destination (March here has been sooo sucky, hasn’t it?!) and for Ella meeting her online friends in RL *and* having a great time.

    Just think, if we hadn’t have met through our blogs, we would’ve never met in RL either!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kari, isn’t it amazing to think that it’s been THREE years since the whole COVID lockdown, in which everyone had to put their trip travels on hold for all that time?!?

    Faaaaaaaaaaaaaabulous photo captures! I lived in Florida (both South and Central) for 20 years. So, these images brought back wonderful memories. To me, Florida has “the most” glorious sunsets. One of my closets friends in Florida had parents that lived in Saint Augustine. People sometimes forget that Augustine is the (first) oldest city in America.

    And yes, the Westside of Florida is very different from the East – Gulf/Atlantic. I actually prefer the East/Atlantic because of the sound of the ocean. But I know many who prefer the West/Gulf.

    Wonderful photo of you in the sunshine! I also love the shot you captured from the plane window!

    ” I’m here to tell everyone that this is simply not true. They may be the most genuine friends you’ll ever have.” — I TOTALLY agree!

    And doesn’t it feel good to return home after a trip? Like Dorothy said, “There’s no place like home!”

    Thanks so much for sharing your trip, my friend. Enjoyed!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES! My oldest daughter’s birthday was yesterday, which also happened to be the anniversary of when the covid shit hit the fan. I can’t believe how long it’s been.

      It was incredibly beautiful. The photos do not do it justice. I wished we had more time to explore Saint Augustine.

      Have you ever visited Florida’s “Emerald Coast?” It’s stunning, I must say. The water and sand are similar to those found in the Caribbean. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. I’ve never been there….yet.

      Thank you for your kind words about the pictures, Ron! That is a huge compliment coming from you. 😘

      YES! I absolutely love all of my online friends. I’m so grateful they (and you) are in my life.

      No place like home. Yes. ❀️


  8. This is such a sweet tale. Hooray for Ella getting to attend this big event. (Do not ask me to pronounce OR spell quinc . . . see?) I love that you and Mike allowed her to make this trip happen. Great pics. Looks like a wonderful get away.

    I agree. Online friends are the real deal. As much as technology can frustrate me, it gets a gold star for uniting and introducing folks.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m SOOOO happy you finally got to go on a trip AND that it was for a special event for your daughter to attend. Both of these scenarios I can currently relate to. We recently learned that we will be going to Florida next February (husband’s work trip that has been cancelled the last 3 years) and I’m planning on writing about my daughter’s friends for my yearly Autism Awareness post next month.

    I have always wanted to go to St. Augustine’s. The photos look so lovely and I know it’s full of history. Yes, a sunrise over the Atlantic is magical. As is the use of seashells for gravel, mulch, etc.

    Online friends . . . I used to be one of those people who scoffed at the idea (though mostly because of a bad incident I had with someone online involving Munchausen Syndrome). Thanks to blogging, I’ve changed my opinion entirely. Who else knows our day to day thoughts like our blogger mates?

    And for those who are on the spectrum, being able to communicate with a keyboard in the ‘getting to know you phase’ is so much easier. I do notice for my daughter, even Zoom is easier for her than face to face conversations (which is the opposite for me). I’m glad that your daughter finally got to meet her friend and I hope this trip only strengthened their bond.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I LOVE THIS FOR YOU! I cannot wait for you to write about your adventure.

      I’d first learned about Saint Augustine from a travel YouTuber I used to follow many years ago. It was very lovely, and we’re glad we have friends there now to visit.

      I’m sorry for your bad experience with online friends. But I’m glad it didn’t stop you from blogging, otherwise I would have missed out on you. And now, Ron. 😘

      YES, and a thousand times YES. This strengthened their bond even more than before, which she didn’t think was possible.


  10. Yes, you should know. I love this so much! The metaphor is not lost on me either. How sweet for Ella and how lucky are her friends? She likes them enough to leave her home and take that chance….so lovely.
    St. Augustine is interesting; kinda crowded, but so much history. I hope you didn’t bring home any unwanted ghosts.
    You are so right; the East Coast is fast and furious (cold, fast water/waves/wind) and the Gulf is sleepy, (warm water/barely a wave unless we have a storm) so very different, but what body of water isn’t the loveliest thing to see? I’m happy you both were able to make in-person connections.

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  11. I felt every ounce of your joy, the sun on your face, the laughter and most importantly spending time with loved ones and celebrating life’s precious moments. This was beautiful, the poem, the images, and the story. Thank you for letting me tag along. I loved every moment. Hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I love this post. I’m glad I waited to check in on your blog until I could do it properly. Your photos are gorgeous, and I’m so happy for all of you that you got to have this trip. I will admit that I am jealous of Brian. If you got to meet an online friend, I wish it was me! But happy for you still. πŸ™‚ I agree that online friends are real friends. I have a few that I would love to meet IRL. I know we’d sit and talk for hours (once we got over our mutual social awkwardness). There’s lots of different kinds of friends, none more real than the others, I think. Just different.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rita, I, too, have always wanted to meet you. I believe we will someday.

      I like how you said “lots of different friends.” Just like when I compared the Atlantic ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. Both are beautiful in their own right, but neither is superior to the other. Just different. πŸ’•


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  13. The photo of the moon over the ocean was lovely, but it was your words (and the Rumi poem) that left me with a lump in my throat. What a lovely tale of online friendship working the best way that it can. I have some wonderful online friends who became friends in real life too – and I am hugely grateful for them. Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us:)

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Online friends are the *best* & most def Real Friends. I love that you & your fam got to experience this beautiful, meaningful trip together. What a wonderful thing to share with each other and with your daughter’s friends & their families. I can see this being one of those core memories that you guys return to… full of happiness and (even better!) full of moments when you noticed that special happiness & held it close. ❀️

    Liked by 1 person

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