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Seven years ago, my girlfriend, Kimberly, and I were walking hand-in-hand along Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and casually gazing at the street vendors’ interesting wares. We approached one vendor’s kiosk and marveled at his hand-painted conch shells as he sat there and worked diligently. As we walked away, I heard the vendor call out. “Hey, Papi,” he said in a heavily accented baritone. I pivoted, and the dread-locked man smiled at me. “Enjoy the moon.”

“That’s an interesting thing to say,” I said as Kimberly and I walked back toward him. “What does it mean?” He stopped working and addressed me like a sage professor.

“It means nothing more than what it says: Look at the moon. It’s beautiful tonight. You and your lady should be sure to enjoy it. After all, the moon is meant to be enjoyed with friends,” he said.

The response made Kimberly and me smile. It also made us realize that we’d been so intent on the goods of Las Olas, we’d completely neglected the massive orange-hued harvest moon high in the night’s sky. Still, despite my surprise, there was something inviting, even something familiar about his words.

That was seven years ago this summer. From then on, when my job as a reporter sent me to lands near and far, I found myself staring at the moon each night — a grounding reminder of the vendor’s weighty comment. And even now, as I write this, my first column as the new editor of American Way, I think back on the vendor’s abrupt remark as a way of introducing myself, because:

We have met before, you and I. We crossed paths in Fort Lauderdale when I did a turn as a newspaper reporter. We met at White Rock Lake in Dallas while jogging on a March afternoon. I waited on you back in 1996 at the Hard Rock Café in Hollywood, and I carried your golf bag for 18 holes at Chagrin Valley Country Club in Cleveland as a teen. We studied together in Don Ranley’s journalism class at the University of Missouri and then again in Sam Freedman’s graduate book seminar at Columbia University. We shared some great times at Wrigley Field that summer I spent in Chicago, and we also collectively cried when I sat next to you on that Chinook helicopter as the Army evacuated the Louisiana Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. All the while, that constant and invariable satellite loomed bright overhead.

Last month, when I learned I’d be the new editor, Kimberly (now my wife) and I walked hand-in-hand around our neighborhood in Dallas as our daughter blazed a path before us. When we stopped near the playground, I squeezed Kimberly’s hand and pointed to the moon with my other one. And I smiled.

“Adam, you’ll do a great job,” she said. “You share a passion for life and travel with every one of your readers. Just do what you have always done; listen to their needs, wants, and desires, and enable them to truly enjoy their time on American Airlines.”

As you read this issue of American Way, which is full of stories that address your travel wants and needs, stop for a moment and look out your window. Then look at the person sitting next to you. Enjoy the moon: The moon is meant to be enjoyed with friends. I am honored to be on board with you, and I genuinely look forward to more stories and interactions. Until the next time we meet …

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Adam Pitluk
Editor