Last week, after almost three years to the day since we’d last hugged, I got to see my best friend in person again. Let me just say, the run towards each other by the airport baggage claim could’ve been a slow motion movie reel. We obviously also cried because we were so happy.
I got to Tallahassee around 11AM on Wednesday and Pagelyn was waiting at the airport for me. We stopped for lunch before going back to her home, never breaking conversation the whole time. That afternoon, we picked up her boys from school and took them for their scheduled haircuts before going back home to drop them off, pack up her bags with mine, and drive to Panama City Beach.
When we got there, it was already dark so could hear the ocean outside our patio balcony, but we couldn’t see it. We unloaded our bags and then went in search of some dinner (Taziki’s Cafe; delicious!) and groceries for breakfasts and lunches. I had gotten up at 3AM that morning for my flight so it was a really low-key, early evening back at the condo. Though, to be honest, it’s not like we had any wild nights out, haha. We spent most of our time together simply talking…and talking…and talking some more, like we had been starved for in-person conversation flow.
The view from the balcony the next morning was stunning.
We slipped off our sandals and walked along the waterline, soaking up the sunshine and the ocean waves lapping at our feet, cold at first, but warming as we got used to it.
We knew, based on the forecast, that Thursday was going to be the warmest and sunniest day so that afternoon, Pagelyn gave me the full 30A tour, starting in Rosemary. In turn, she got the full experience of what it’s like to try to walk around a scenic area with a photographer, haha. (Hint: it’s slow going!)
That evening, we went out for dinner at Uncle Ernie’s Bayfront Grill before curling up back at our condo under our throw blankets with the sliding doors open, listening to the ocean waves and chatting the evening away.
Friday was much colder, as well as overcast and windy. We didn’t have any plans so we made things up as we went. Our condo building had an indoor/outdoor pool that is closed off to the outside during the winter months so that it stays warm so we made use of the (very) hot tub, alternating between that and the indoor part of the pool. After we ate lunch in our condo, we decided to go explore a nearby state park, St. Andrews State Park.
We loved the state park so much that we went back the next day for family pictures when Bryant and the boys came to join us. Friday evening after we left the park, we went back to our condo for hot showers, clean hair, and then we went to Boondocks, where I had the most delicious fresh grilled shrimp and scallops and I had my inaugural tasting of fried pickles, which are amazing!
Saturday morning the sun was back out, but it was only in the 40s so we took our books and blankets down to the deck chairs and read. Bryant, Lucas, and Jacob were coming to join us in the early afternoon and we went to the state park again to take their family photos. (It had warmed up to the 60s by then, but was still chilly!) That evening, we grabbed pizza for dinner and finished it off with Kilwins ice cream (I highly recommend the Kilwins Tracks flavor!). The boys were (rightly) exhausted and there was also a one hour time difference between Panama City Beach and Tallahassee so when we got back to the condo, it was time for showers, PJs, a little bit of TV, and then lights out.
Sunday morning, we needed to be out of the condo by 10AM so Bryant took the boys down to the pool to swim while Pagelyn and I got things packed up. We went down to join them for a bit before we all went back up to the condo at 9:30 to get them dried off and the cars packed. When we got to our door, however, we found out the code, which should’ve stayed active until 10AM, was shut off already so we couldn’t get in. After some mild panic, several phone calls that went to voicemail, and some shivering little boys, Bryant found a security person to manually unlock the door so we could get our stuff out.
I had a longish layover in Atlanta so I walked the entire airport and all the terminals, racking up many miles and almost 20k steps. I was thrilled to get assigned to an exit row not once but twice (the leg room!) and without a seat mate so it felt a bit luxurious as far as plane travels go.
Waking up my kids the next morning was the best feeling. Henry leapt out of bed to clamber me with hugs. Perrin reached her arms around my neck, murmuring “mama” with her eyes still closed, smelling like sweet, cozy sleep. I loved being able to spend time with my best friend; it was so good for my soul. But it is equally good to return to my family. I missed them so much.