Monday, March 6, 2017

Watered Down Weekend

Two weekends ago found me at a watered down girls weekend at the cabin.

Watered down carries a negative connotation, if you're looking for a classic martini up. But if you need just a little help powering through your cocktail, a splash of H2O is perfection.

I describe it as such merely in terms of the number of people present.
For four blissful days, this gem and I savored coffee all morning. We ate brunch in the early afternoon then motivated our butts off the couch, into some outerwear, and onto trails graced with freshly fallen snow, breathing in the crisp winter air and getting lost in the woods with just our shadows for companionship.
We stopped for wine on the trails, commenting on how darned good it tasted - better than normal.
Was it due to the perfect chill it achieved in our backpack? Or the company sharing it? Our overachievement by selecting the most difficult trail? Perhaps borderline dehydration after miles of hiking?
All of the above.

Post hiking and skiing, we savored apéritifs fireside and nibbled on both home cooked and delightful restaurant vittles. We returned home to warm up, rest up, and do it all again the next day. Our husbands and kids fended for themselves, extra appreciative when we walked through the door on Sunday afternoon.

And us? We recharged, reset, and refueled our souls with some much needed girlfriend time.

We paid dearly for our over-ambition. Five miles and an elevation gain of 730 feet later, we both felt the skin tearing away from our heels, fully protesting the torture we put them through in the name of a challenging snowshoe trek through the abandoned national forest.

"You know," Michelle commented once we arrived home with this drink in hand:
"We never saw another human being on the trail today. Aside from the restaurant, we never encountered another soul. Not even one car on the way home from dinner."

That's just the way I like it sometimes - devoid of human interaction, except for those I choose to engage with. And while additional friends surely would have made for additional laughs and shenanigans, it would have prevented me from connecting so deeply and broadly with a new friend.

After spending 80 hours straight with the same person, one of two things will happen:
  1. You'll connect deeply on so many levels you'll wonder why it took so long to become fast, comfortable friends despite living in the same neighborhood for years and working out together for months.
  2. You'll bug the ever living hell out of each other and call it quits. 
Truth be told, self doubt still arises when I consider forging new friendships. I even at one point, in recent history, agreed with a friend at the sentiment that once you hit 40, you don't need any more friends. We're too set in our ways. We have enough people in our life already. One more isn't going to significantly impact us in any meaningful way. It's too much more to manage. We don't have time.

We are so wrong for feeling that way. People need to come into our lives at every point along our timeline, for varying reasons. The sweet neighbor I made friends with at the age of six may not fulfill my needs as a 40-something, but there might just be a tribe of women in a fitness class who do.

By nature, I'm an over-sharer. I told that woman way too much in way too short of a window of time, probably scaring her off to the guest bedroom at night to text her husband: "SOS! She's a freak! I know her ENTIRE life story and I need some air! SEND IN THE RESCUE SQUAD! AND BY THE WAY...IT'S DARK AND CREEPY HERE, THE DEER WEAR GREEN STATEMENT NECKLACES, AND THERE'S A HAIRY GORILLA IN THE CLOSET!"
Maybe that's all true, but maybe not. Because she confided back. Until the dark settled around us and the fire crackled away, and I put one more log on because there was so much more to say. To share. To create the foundation for a deeper friendship that we would both walk away from more fulfilled, more loved, more appreciated.

We not only share the common bond of trekking through four inches of snow on quite possibly the hilliest trail in the midwest (730 feet is significant, folks. Especially when your footwear sucks and your snowshoe breaks on mile 3). But now we share the deeper bond of stories told, experiences shared, and trust exchanged. I know that she won't tell everyone  what I talked about, and she also has my confidence. It's how friends are made. Mutual trust, risk in sharing, assurances cemented.

If we hadn't spent the weekend together, she might not have stopped by with another friend last Friday night, for just a little while, to pick me up when I felt sad. Now I know - we needed that time together. I've already counted on her, and she's already delivered.  I look forward to returning the favor some day.

I am lucky to have a lot of friends along my timeline of life. Friends who come to me in good times and bad, trusting I can listen, understand, advocate, counsel. But the sweetest part? Is that they are there for me in return. None of them could ever replace my husband or kids, nor should they. But they fill a giant, gaping hole that would be empty and depressingly void if they weren't there to challenge me, make me belly laugh, and listen with a compassionate ear.

To my newfound, true friend who I know will remain in my life to the end,
Cheers. Next time, let's order two flights of wine. :)

XOXO,
Jen

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