On Jan. 2, we woke up at 3 a.m. to finish packing and catch a 6:50 a.m. flight out of Philadelphia. By the time we reached our layover point in Phoenix, snow had already begun coating the streets of Philadelphia. We watched the news on TV in the airport terminal and felt fortunate to have escaped the East Coast snowstorm just in the nick of time.
Hours later, we stepped off the plane into weather that was 82 degrees and sunny. We marveled at the airport with no walls and changed from sneakers into flip-flops. The new year was already off to a great start.
We took a break from volcano hikes and beach trips to spend that Saturday afternoon at the lone sports bar in Hilo, Hawaii, cheering on the Eagles as they faced the New Orleans Saints in an NFC wild-card game. The small bar was practically empty when we walked in at 3 p.m., but we quickly befriended the small group of fellow Eagles fans who gathered there.
There was something surreal about watching live images of our beloved city, sparkling with bright colored lights and snow against the dark nighttime sky, while wearing shorts and shielding our eyes from the bright afternoon sunshine streaming through the windows. We sang the Eagles fight song when the Birds scored and fell nervously silent as the score got close. We chatted with a handful of new Philly friends who gathered at the bar, and we texted our old Philly friends back home.
It dawned on me then that the way we were spending that afternoon was perfectly consistent with a lesson my parents strived for years to instill in us. No matter how many miles from home we might get and no matter how many challenges we might face in the coming years, we were never to forget where we came from and what it meant to us.
Lynn Kolodinsky writes from Norristown.
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