It was as if they had never parted. Paula and Sally sat in the back booth of the same small cafe they frequented as teenagers in their home town. They sipped sodas, laughed, and tried to catch up after years of no communication.
"Look what I brought." Sally grinned as she pulled their senior yearbook out of her huge purse.
"I haven’t seen this in years!" Paula laughed.
"Do you remember this?" Sally flipped to the last page where they had written their youthful, idealistic ambitions. Moving the book across the table so both of them could see, she read aloud what was penned from their hearts over a decade earlier:
"From this day forward, our goals are to have the career of our dreams, marry the man of our dreams, and to change the world for the better." Below was Paula’s bold, flourishing signature and Sally’s small handwriting adorned with curlicues. Their proclamation was signed on the date of their graduation. The women smiled at each other.
Sally’s expression sobered. She had noticed how weary Paula appeared, as if life had been difficult for her. She said a silent prayer for her long-time friend.
"Paula, both of us were accepted at the State University. Why did you go to across the country to attend college?"
"It sounded more exciting than going to a local college. I studied two different foreign languages and planned to be an interpreter at the U.N. Instead, I ended up working for a large corporation with overseas connections. I interpreted business deals rather than government affairs of the world." Paula shrugged, her disillusionment apparent. "Not my dream job and not exactly world changing, but the pay was good. And you? Why did you stay here?"
"Because I got a scholarship to State. I could live at home and go to school. I became interested in sign language when my mother lost her hearing. State University had an excellent program. Now I work at the hospital and several clinics as a patient advocate for the hearing impaired. I absolutely love it!" Sally was thoughtful for a minute. "I like to think that I make the world better for one person at a time."
"I heard you married Kevin. Was the high school sweetheart the man of your dreams?" Paula asked.
A tender look crossed Sally’s features. "Actually, yes. That shy basketball player turned into a wonderful teacher and coach. He’s a good husband, Paula, and he’s really great with kids. That’s what I was looking for."
"I can see you're content. I’m happy for you." Paula paused. "And Michael? What is Kevin's older brother up to these days"
"Oh, I thought you said he was too much like a brother to be interesting.” Sally teased. “Michael has become quite an entrepreneur, owns a local business, flies his own plane. He's done well. He still asks about you, by the way."
"Really? Did he ever get married?”
Sally shook her head, “Too busy, it seems.”
“I’ll tell you a secret,” Paula confided. “I always had a crush on Michael. But I was young and figured there were a lot of fascinating men out there to find--something better than the hometown boys."
"Did you ever meet that man of your dreams, Paula?"
"I thought I had. But the dream became a nightmare. I met Rocco while in Italy on assignment for work. Two careers, two continents...it just didn't work."
"It’s a funny thing about that list of goals." Paula said rather wistfully. "I left to search for something that I thought was better--but never found it. You stayed here and accomplished it."
Behind Paula, the cafe door opened. Sally watched Kevin and Michael stroll in for their usual Saturday afternoon coffee break. The brothers spotted the two friends in the far corner and headed toward their booth. A slow smile spread over Sally’s face.
"May I share an observation with you?" She asked her quiet, contemplative friend.
"Sometimes we need to count the value of what God provides that is within our reach before we chase an uncertain dream."
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