Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Girlfriending

After every weekend of girlfriending, I wonder, "What can I possibly write this time that hasn't already been said?" It's easy to chronologically recount our adventures one by one, but it doesn't really capture the spirit of what girlfriend time means. Mr. Musky called me out on it this morning. "Does anyone really want to read about this? Do they even care?"

"Some, perhaps. Others, maybe not," I acknowledged.

I truthfully don't know if people are interested in our self indulgent behavior. But I'm not seeking validation from the world. I recount these weekends for the ladies, so when we're 90 and in nursing homes we can pull up our adventures online to prove that we were once spry and dug a stranded, embarrassed snowmobiler out of six feet of snow with our girlfriends.
True story. His buddy came along, and shouted: "Damn! I need to get stuck and be rescued by six beautiful women!" We drew the line when he creepily kept asking us to go boozing though. Because we had a pond hockey tournament to see and a Labatt Blue to drink.
Besides myself and my friends, I write these recaps for women everywhere, of every age, in every stage of life, as a reminder to carve out time to complete the piece of their hearts that is fulfilled by friendship - a space that no man, child, sister or mother can fulfill. Only true friends hold that perfect puzzle piece, and I am a firm believer that we have to nurture those friendships, investing time in them to keep them alive and humming.

As for me and my friends, there is only one way to do this. First, on night one, we have some beverages.
Then the next morning we go outside to play and experience new things.
 Have you ever seen a cross country skier pulled by dogs?
It's an impressive sight to behold.
It's really a thing. It's called skijoring, and it's all the Northwoods rage. Given Miller's current horizontal position, I think it's more suitable for the younger set, not the geriatric type who can't make it up a flight of stairs so well. Nor for those of us who recently participated in our first cross country skiing lesson. We've got some training to do before racing doggies drag us over a finish line.

Aside from all the fun adventures, what I love the most is the girls who join me. They're all interesting, headstrong, willful, loving souls who deal with their own version of daily challenges and need the getaway. I'm amazed and in awe of all of them, for different reasons.

Take her.
Laid off from her long-term corporate customer service career on Friday (JERKS!), she was all in and rode up with me on Tuesday, on the beginning of what I know will be a fulfilling and well earned soul search to figure out what's next. As always, she embraces her unpleasant situation with grace and calm. Her quiet, observant ways continue to teach me to chill out and her laid back view on life grounds me. Not to mention that she knows something about everything and can kick anyone's butt in Trivia Crack.

My kindred spirit. The talker.
We efficiently catch up in two hours time, and build new memories every time we're together. She's well traveled with stories aplenty and she still dreams huge. She's driven and worked hard to get where she is professionally, and my heart grows a little more each time she reminds me how I influenced her to take a risky leap of faith by leaving her hometown to join me at University of Illinois. We are forever bound by that commonality and I will always feel a bit like a big sister to her.

This girl owns a part of my soul.
We communicate by just looking at one another across the dinner table. I sense when she's thrilled, annoyed or hurting, either physically or emotionally. And she understands my heart. In the past few years, this badass started training at a local crossfit gym. I marvel at her physical prowess, and admittedly, I'm a little intimidated. As well as I know her, I never grasped how competitive and determined she is. But I do now. And I want her by my side forever, especially if we encounter a black bear.

Because she lifts heavy shit, and could throw me over her shoulder and run both of us to safety. She's also good to have on a treacherous, icy trail. Clearly, this path in the UP of Michigan proved impassable.
The crossfit backpacker made it a bit less terrifying for everyone, guiding us individually to safety. With a couple of giggles thrown in and a shot of Fireball for good measure.
Opposites attract, but I also firmly believe that those who mirror our values and beliefs are good for us.
Kim is the sweetest ever, a fellow Republican and grounded in her faith. When I face obstacles in life that question what I believe in, people like Kim are there to remind me that kindness and the benefit of the doubt reign supreme. She also proves that it's ok to let loose and go crazy on cocktail night, because we are among friends. And guess what? She wants to go live at her lake house, forever and ever, The End. Amen. We are 100% on the same page there.

Now here's where I lose it.
This gem, this shiny crystal in her hot pink snow pants, makes my heart swell just thinking about her. A few years ago, when I started blogging because I had a lot to say but didn't know if anyone would give two craps, she sent me a message and indicated that I mattered. That she loved what I was doing. I always looked up to this gal in high school, but the fact that she purposefully sought me out to tell me that I was inspiring her spoke volumes. During lunch on Friday, she talked about her oldest daughter, and how she will be interning in New Jersey this summer. I know how close they are, and stated the obvious. "Sheesh. You're going to miss her."

Prophetic, I know.

Her response left all of us with jaws on the table, gawking over our brats and burgers. "Whelp, yes. I'm going to miss her. Because in April, I'm moving to Germany."

Come again? You've been here with us since yesterday, drank pints of martinis and cinnamon flavored whiskey and made snow angels on the lake and helped kidnap our neighbor and went sledding down a scary hill and are JUST NOW TELLING US THIS MONUMENTAL, LIFE ALTERING, FOREVER-CHANGE-YOUR-VIEWPOINT ON THE WORLD NEWS!?!

She leaves in two months to chase a lifelong dream shelved for years while she supported her family and raised her daughters alongside her husband. Now her family is rallying around Mama Bower. They are all waving their European freak flags, and Amy will finally see all the beautiful, inspiring art she studied in college but didn't get to pursue since like so many of us, she took the reasonable route in life.

Not that there's anything wrong with that. The reasonable route is important, responsible and gratifying. But the risky path can provide just as much satisfaction, with a solid dose of adrenaline. For those of us who are able to dally in both? That balance makes our tickers hum just a little more strongly.
When we said goodbye at the fire pit along the cross country ski trail since she had to get back early for a family commitment, I actually teared up. I am thrilled for her. But I also feel like we just got started on our tabled friendship, and now it has to go back on the shelf for a awhile. It's worth it though. Especially since it's not a forever thing and she'll be back.

Once she safely arrived back to the Land of Lincoln, she penned some of the kindest words anyone has ever said to me. I cherish these golden nuggets.

"I've come to think of Jennifer as a treasured soul catalyst. Reconnecting with her has inspired and pushed me to actually do things that I want to do.  Her kind heart and adventurous spirit along with her seemingly effortless role as the Queen of both hospitality and amazing cocktails makes time with her and her wonderful friends (who I consider mine now too) some of my favorite adventures."

I love these girls, and all of the beauties in my life.
Thanks to all my friends for being who they are and for loving me with all they've got.

XOXO,
Jen

For recaps of past girls' weekends, click on the following links:

2010: Girls Weekend
2011: Reckless Abandon
2012: The Push/Pull of Friendship
2013: Best Friends
Seventy-Five Pounds of Shit
Calling all Chickadees 
Southern Girls go Ice Fishing
2013: Buffoonery
2014: The Sum is Greater than its Parts



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