New friends are special too

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Special to the Opelika Observer

My last column was about the importance of old friends, and I’m not changing my tune on that. There is nothing like old friends; however, meeting new friends has its perks, too. I’m not saying we should expect immediate gratification from new friendships, but sometimes, who knows, maybe you’ll end up on a boat.
I had a speaking gig in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, this past week, and that’s just where I wound up. Although it’s not the first time I’ve had an awesome experience following a gig, it is the first time I’ve ever wound up on a boat. In fact, it was a sailboat. I’ve been on a lot of boats in my life, but this was my first time ever on a sailboat.
A few years ago, I had a gig for the University of Florida at an agricultural research center in the Florida panhandle. I met an elderly gentleman who invited me to his 9000 acre farm the next morning. His farm was filled with peanuts and cotton. He took me on a tour and showed me the whole process from the ground to the combine to the finished product. I’d never seen anything like it. I had no idea what the process of either entailed, because I was only ever privy to the finished product.
It’s the same thing with the boat. I’d never been on a sailboat, but all I ever imagined was the finished product—the actual sailing part. There was a lot of work that went into it before we ever went on the three hour tour…the three hour tour. There were apparently a lot of hungry osprey in the area, because the boat was marked with their fishy presence, so we had to clean the boat before we set sail. Nobody wants to be out on a dirty boat.
The battery was dead, too. Granted it was a sailboat, but you have to have power to get out of the marina and into the bay. I never thought about that part. I just thought it magically happened. Regardless, we didn’t have a lot of wind, so we needed the battery more than usual.
It was a beautiful day. We were in the mid-seventies in the second week of January. It should have been cold and miserable, but, other than the lack of wind, the weather conditions were absolutely perfect. The bay was calm as bathtub water, which made the dolphin sightings all that much better. They came within just a few feet of the boat.
When we got back to the marina, we grabbed our belongings, cleaned up, and battened down the hatches before going to the local oyster bar for a fresh dozen. It really was one of those perfect days, all because of the new friends and the new relationship with them. In spite of all the negativity in the world, there really are a lot of good people out there, so cherish the friends you have, but don’t be afraid to seek out new relationships, too. Good friends can only enhance your life.
I had another gig in South Florida last year. Some of the great folks, my new friends, down there have invited me to come back to stay at their guest home. I think I need to take them up on their offer real soon. I’m noticing a pattern here. Maybe I need more gigs in Florida. There seems to be a lot of good people in The Sunshine State, but really, there are good people everywhere.
Jody Fuller is from Opelika. He is a comic, speaker, writer and soldier with three tours of duty in Iraq. He is also a lifetime stutterer. He can be reached at jody@jodyfuller.com. For more information, please visit www.jodyfuller.com.

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