I have been surrounded by amazing women for pretty much my entire life. I can look back at a specific window of my lifetime and name at least a handful of ladies that have significantly influenced my life and from each time frame I’ve stayed in touch with at least one of them. But, life gets busy. We evolve, move, and our priorities change. I am not close to every single one of these women today. There are some I haven’t seen in years, some I have owed a phone call for months, some I get to see annually, and others who brighten my life daily. However, when I think of any of them, my heart fills with warmth, yearns for the next time we will have the opportunity to laugh together until our faces and stomachs hurt, and hopes and prays they are experiencing happiness and love in their lives.
A couple weekends ago, I was reminded just how much I love time with my girlfriends and how, because I can’t think of a better way to explain it, it fills my soul. A group of my college girlfriends and I sneaked away to California for a long weekend. We have been taking this trip for 10 years. Yes, this was our 10 year anniversary, and you better believe we told every person we ran into whether or not they were interested in hearing about it. Straight out of college, we all dispersed and went to different cities. Our trips started in these locations and then took us to Las Vegas for our five-year reunion. Between our sixth and ninth years, several of us took up residency in new cities and states, so we started the cycle of visiting each others’ new homes again. But, for our 10th year we wanted to do something bigger. So, we reserved a vacation rental home in Sonoma County and spent four glorious days in wine country. For the first time in four years, none of us were pregnant which we thought was fate and took as a sign to drink more wine!
Since returning from my trip a couple weeks ago, I’ve been reflecting on our time together quite a bit. It has brought up all sorts of emotions and feelings out in me like how amazing it is, with all the coming and goings of life, that we have successfully made this trip each year for the last 10; we’ve all changed so much since we met but still love each other just as much; and my relationship with these ladies continues to deepen even though we only see each other once a year.
The bottom line is, this trip happens every year because we make it a priority. I think it was my friend Kelly’s mom that told us we had to make sure this trip happened the first year after graduation. She said it would be easy to put off just starting our careers and having ridiculous student loans in the back of our minds. So, we listened to her and this trip has happened every year since. We talked about this a little bit during our time together. Our husbands are well aware of this annual adventure and, for those of us who have been at our current jobs for a while, so are our supervisors, colleagues and employees. Therefore, it has become a standard and one of things we most look forward to throughout the year.
One of the sentiments that hit me most during my trip was just how much I had changed since I met these girls. I am a different person today than I was when we met and one that, I’d like to think, is a better friend and human being. My priorities have shifted from shallow interests to deep passions and appreciations. And these girls have changed in ways too, some more than others. In a way, we have watched each other grow up. We have shared joys and tragedies, and with each giggle and good cry have deepened this life-long friendship we continue to build. Trying to find words for the way I feel about them is similar to trying to describe how you love your husband or child. They are just that important to me and mean that much to me.
The night before we all flew back to our respective regions of the country, we were enjoying a bit of the wine we purchased throughout our stay. We decided to share the things we love best about each other. (If it hasn’t already been clear through all of my writing, I am a firm believer in telling those you love and appreciate how you feel. I want the people I love to know just how much I value them while I still get to share and celebrate it with them.) Anyway, I have never sat around a table and, for the sole purpose of doing it, shared why I love every person in that room. And even though I’m usually very open about my these feelings day-to-day, I felt really vulnerable. But, I have to say, it was an incredible experience. It felt raw and true to share deep thoughts we, maybe, had never verbalized as well as to leave myself wide open to the comments coming my way. I was floored to learn one thing that came up several times about me was something that I have struggled with and at points considered a weakness not a strength. I loved learning that they value this quality in me and according to them, I’ve nailed it!
In my head, I have been living in wine country since I got home. I came home refreshed, full of life and love, and with a renewed perspective on what matters most: the people I love. The weekend was just that good. I am so blessed, in so many ways. And I count these girls and this annual trip as one of my greatest blessings.
Tell me, have you had a trip or something else that has made you feel this good recently? Do you also put value on time with girlfriends day-to-day or through trips together? Do you struggle to leave your kiddos (it’s never easy!)? Please share, I’d love to hear your thoughts and stories.
Pictures Courtesy of My Girlfriend, EO