Teresa is one of the few people I’ve ever met who became one of my best friends the first time I saw her. I’m not usually outgoing or particularly friendly when I am in the presence of strangers, but for some reason, I was really drawn to Teresa. Our story goes like this: In the fall of 1975, I was waiting in line in the Human Resources Department of Fort Myers’ preeminent department store, Maas Brothers. I was a recent hire for part time work over the holiday shopping season. In line in front of me was Teresa Felentzer, who, as it turned out, was a recent hire for full time employment. We immediately struck up a conversation. She explained that she had just moved to Fort Myers from her hometown, Tampa, would be living with her mother and sister, and knew no one in town. I asked her where her mother and sister lived and amazingly, they, and now Teresa, lived on Maravilla Avenue, the street where I lived with my mother, in the house where I grew up. How cool is that? Teresa and I became friends instantly. I introduced her to many of my longtime friends, we went many places together, and we shared lots of fun experiences. When I left Fort Myers for college in the fall of 1976, Teresa and I stayed in contact. She picked me up from my dorm room in the spring of 1977, moved my belongings in her groovy Firebird, then, when I moved to Tallahassee in the summer of 1980 to attend graduate school, Teresa (who by then, lived in Tallahassee) was waiting for me in my new home to help me move in. She and I have both moved around quite a bit but wherever we live, we always stay in touch. We used to write letters, but now we are in more frequent contact thanks to text messaging. Teresa celebrated a milestone birthday several years ago and I joined her in Pittsburgh on a trip of a lifetime. We saw the last Pirates game of the season and the first Steelers game of the season, both of which went into overtime/extra innings. Teresa is usually the first person to send me a Christmas card and recently, she was the first person to send David and me a sympathy card when David’s mother passed away. She always writes thank you notes after she visits (hooray for good manners!) and because she is so much fun to be around, her visits to David’s and my house are always too short. As of this writing, Teresa and I have been friends for over 45 years. I’m so glad we were in line together on that fateful day in 1975! Much love from me to you, Teresa!
It is interesting in life that we cross paths with many people, strangers, some of whom a connection happens. Often these connections happen without any effort as they are random occurrences. The Melissa – Teresa connection is one of those. It occurred at a time in life when both of them were venturing into new territory with jobs and, for Teresa, a move to a new town. The opportunities to explore and share experiences were endless. And the connection made was strong. Melissa has far more long term connections like this than do I, but I appreciate the bonds. I think it is wonderful when the 2 of them can get together. Sure, they communicate regularly by phone and text, once it was letters, but when they get together the “picking up where they left off” seems effortless. It provides joy in their lives to share their connections and to have additional adventures together. Some of these include me and it is fun to play tour guide to share our east coast world with Teresa or to explore other experiences together. Looking back, how the connection was made, and grew, seems hard to believe given the lifelong aspect of it all. You just never know who you’ll meet, where, and to what that will lead.
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