I forgot just how beautiful the ride along the Merritt Parkway is, the trees perfectly lining the twists and turns of the road. Add the golds, reds and greens of the season and it was truly a breathtaking view through my windshield. As I drove I recalled the 3 1/2 years of commuting over 2 hours each way for a position that ultimately convinced me I was done with corporate America. My mind recalled the excitement of the new role, the people I met and the work that we ultimately completed.
I was flooded with memories of restaurants whose owners I became friendly with given how many evenings I spent eating sushi and drinking wine with them. I was flooded with memories of the people at the hotel who knew me by name and would even recognize me at other venues in the area. I thought about the nights I drove into New Haven to have the best Japanese food, or to Madison to have the greatest Lobster roll ever! The bay in Guilford that I kayaked and the beach at Hamanasett State Park that I watched the sunset all flooded back to me as I sang classic rock songs along with my radio!
I was about to meet my very good friend Kimberly at one of my favorite restaurants in the state, Crave. I found Crave a few years back after a funeral I attended on a Saturday in the little copper town of Ansonia. I met one of my very good friends there for lunch and loved everything about the restaurant. The exposed brick and storefront windows gave you the feel of being in Manhattan. The food was perfectly prepared and the service excellent. I ate there a number of times once I found this slice of heaven.
I hadn’t seen Kimberly since her wedding in March in Aruba. There is never a time that I don’t leave my time with her better than when I got there. She is always optimistic, always interested in what is happening in my life and always filled with love. We yapped for 3 hours sitting on the deck on the side of the brick building barely noticing other patrons. Our food was exquisite, the drinks were refreshing and different and our conversation went from topic to topic. It was exactly what I needed when I called her and said, “I need a long drive, I want to see leaves change and I’m in the mood for Crave! Meet me and let’s have lunch!” She was so excited to join me.
We easily could have talked for 3 more hours, we were just getting started. My heart was overflowing with love. As I began to make the 2 plus trek home, I realized that connection, that real connection was something that had been very lost over these few months. Oh yes, there are people I have seen over these months, but connection is different. Not everyone is connected with you, in the moment, listening intently, asking you probing questions, helping you think through things you hadn’t realized you needed to think through. So often, people either want to talk not listen, or don’t know what to say so they say things that are about them, not about what you need or want. So often, people are so wrapped up in their stuff, focused on their past or their future that they miss the moment with you. So often, people don’t even listen other than to judge you or tell you they understand when they really can’t. None of this realization is new or a judgement, it is how most people are, especially during a time like this year. This is where the connection with Kimberly is so different. Her heart is right there, intently listening to you and then helping you see something different, even when you didn’t realize you needed that.
As I drove back down the Merritt, across the Tappan Zee Bridge (it will always be the Tap to me), I realized all of this. I have some amazing people in my life who truly love me for me. I have some people that I am truly connected to, where time together is beautiful. Kimberly is one of those people.
The long and winding road that took me to meet her in Connecticut was filled with memories and love. The road home was filled with love and inspiration. Everything about the time together was about love, respect, laughter and generosity.
Follow that long and winding road to whoever you need to be with to give you love, respect, laughter and generosity. It is worth the 2 plus hour drive for a 3 hour lunch!