As excited as I am to be leaving Florida to travel West, to explore new places, hike more trails, and meet new friends, it is the friends I leave behind that make starting this journey so hard. The footprints in my heart are forged by friends so varied. Some acquaintances leave only a slight indentation, as in shallow dry sand, but those trodden by coworkers, hiking partners, neighbors, and lovers are forged in the mud of adversity and in love. These are deep, and strong.
My early life was a procession of living in new locations, leaving old friends and discovering new ones every few years, but recently I have become more static, sent out roots: forays into new experiences have been recreational, social, or business related. These adult bonds of friendship are stronger, the footprints deeper. Our shared experiences have shaped my life. These are the footprints that will remain forever: they will fossilize into the dinosaur tracks of my life.
Leaving my home, seeing some friends before I go, calls to others, hugs, tears, happiness: Goodbyes and promises of visits in the future. All of this activity has saddened me, but at the same time rejuvenates me to continue to explore. My life is meant to follow this course. My strength has always come from my independence, from sharing new experiences with new people, some of whom become the friends of the future.
Already I feel camaraderie with the new contacts I have made with others who share this next stage of my life. These are the people like me: they feel the same anticipation as I, the uncertainty of what the future will bring. They will share my new life of seasonal work, my love of the outdoors.
Only time will tell how deep their footprints will be. In the meantime, though old friends may be far away, their footprints remain deep in my heart.