Nika turns 30 today! To celebrate her birthday here, she and Scott drove from Maine on Friday. I picked up her friend, Clarissa, that same evening – she had flown WOW Airlines to get to the US from Ireland. And last night, 2 more friends drove 9 hours from Philadelphia. In addition, Ariella and her new beau, Ross, flew up from DC. It’s a fun, full house.

Often, I talk to Nika on the phone, and we email back and forth. I hear from Ariella as well. But there is nothing like seeing them in person.

And Nika’s friends must feel the same way. They are early in their careers. Money is not a given. Moreover, they are a generation that shares often on the internet. Yet, look at the time and effort they put into getting here, getting together, in person. It makes such a difference.

A few years ago, I was visiting Ariella in Paris. I had not made plans for this trip, it was unexpected. I wasn’t “hyped” to see this or that piece of art. So it was due to Ariella’s insight and wisdom that we ended up inside some amazing museums. I distinctly remember the sensation I felt when I saw – in reality – Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”. I had seen it in many photos. But I was unprepared for the visceral impact of the real thing: the vivid and nuanced color, the depth of the texture and that distinct feel of the human hand. It took me aback; shocked me, I admit. And I realized why so many people travelled to see this – the actual piece itself.

Reality. Cherishing reality.