Often in the past, about this time of year I’ve had a ticket purchased to fly into a friendly little airport in Southern California.

Last year at about this time I talked to the friend I’d go visit to see if she thought maybe I should quickly try to get a trip in before travel was possibly discouraged. She couldn’t recommend it. She sent me a link to a news article about “cavalier” behavior in her part of the country.

We’ve often gone for years without seeing each other. Then one of us would decide I should come visit. I’d show up standing outside the airport by the curb. She’d arrive probably a little bit late — maybe after winning a tennis match — all tall and tan and toned. And I’d be standing there by my roll-on suitcase — all none of those things.

I love early March in Southern California. It might be rainy, but between showers the skies are clearer than other times of the year and there’s a profusion of plants in bloom. My friend would point out to me that I’m doing that contented deep sigh thing I do when I’m getting really relaxed. She’d kick her son out of his bedroom (which he was always remarkably agreeable about doing), remind her daughter not to lock me out of the bathroom between the two bedrooms, and I’d be like the family pet for a few days. I was always willing to scurry out to the car to run any number of errands, rolling down the window and possibly sticking my head or a bare foot out into the somehow clean-smelling smog — sometimes it was “natural haze.”

She was quite devoted to the church she went to when we were growing up. (Even though she didn’t have quite the right touch to be in the handbell choir.) It was much larger than the one I attended. One summer she got me to ask my parents if her family could borrow our pop-up tent camper to go to some church-related camping event not too far away. I was invited to go along. My folks eventually agreed. I made a point of remembering highlights of the campsite sermon partly in appreciation for them letting me go. I still remember Pastor Jerry saying, “Don’t curse the hurt, don’t rehearse the hurt, disperse the hurt, reverse the hurt.” I don’t remember any of his specific examples. As adults, we’d probably settle into a corner booth of some establishment new to me and do just that though — recall without rancor broken hearts and broken bones. But also teeter-tottering, telephone calls and riding through country road ditches on our small engine motorcycles.

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This year, its bare toes by the bathroom heater for me. (The new one has an oscillating feature!) I might even write a few postcards and imagine the smell of orange blossoms.