This is a tale of life and paths not taken, paths taken, and how those paths may cross in the most delightful way.
It is about Emma (left beauty) and Corinne (right beauty).
It is completely true.
In 1988, I faced one of those life decisions, do I stay in the National Park Service, or do I take a teaching job offered to me in the west coast Florida county where Mrs. FC and I owned land.
Meanwhile, across the state in that west coast county, a teacher was facing a similar life decision. Should she stay in her teaching position at the very high school she graduated from, or should she take a year off to take care of an ailing mom and help with a family business.
For me, the decision was a tough one. I'd spent so much time chasing a permanent ranger position. I had a brand new baby, Kate to think about as well as Mrs. FC. My decision was not made any easier by the school principal's admonition that, "The teacher you are replacing is only taking a year's leave to take care of her mother, if she decides to come back after that and there's no other position, I would have to let you go."
Across the state, the hometown teacher, much beloved by staff and students, made her own tough decision and left her teaching position to care for her family. Her decision created the teaching vacancy offered to me.
On the beach at St. Augustine, I made my decision to leave the NPS. Somewhere, during the two week notice time and my exit, we found out a baby was on the way (Emma). I packed my bags.
A short while later, in that west coast rural county, the hometown school teacher found out she was expecting (Corinne).
I settled into my new role as teacher and Emma arrived in March.
The hometown teacher settled into her new role as caregiver and Corinne arrived in August of that year.
Emma came home from elementary school talking about her friend, "Corinne".
Corinne went home from the same school talking about her friend, "Emma".
Through birthday parties, sleepovers, and the connections of a small rural community, we got to know Corinne's wonderful family and they ours.
The girls made it through middle school as best buddies.
High school the same.
There's a true lifelong friendship here. A pair of pals who support each other during tough times and celebrate each other's victories with no trace of envy or pettiness.
They set goals. They met them. They raised them. They met those.
They took every challenging class the high school offered, then early enrollment college classes while still in highschool.
They both earned the Florida Bright Futures 100% scholarship.
They both earned the $10,000 dollar Presidential Scholarship to the University of South Florida. They will be "roomies" there in the fall.
Corinne is the Valedictorian for the class of 2007.
Emma is the Salutatorian for the class of 2007.
Perhaps most important of all, they are best friends in the truest sense of the phrase.