But since we don't all live in the same house (like we did back in our senior year of college), nor do we live in the same neighborhood (like we did in all the other years in college), nor are we even in the same state (two in PA and an hour apart and one in NC!!) - it's important to us to do this - to make the effort to bring all of us together for a big, wonderful, whiny, messy, hilarious weekend at least once a year.
Meeting halfway for us, means heading out to Richmond,Virginia: a four hour drive from the north for the Studers and Fiores and a hike up from the south of about the same distance for the Hubbards. With kids ranging from six years old down to 18months, it's a trek to say the least - but pulling in at nearly the same time and getting that wave of relief that we were with 'our people' was awesome.
Doing our #aktpluskids trip means quite a different thing than getting together with my two best girlfriends like the good old days. Long gone (like long, long long gone) are the days of staying up late and giggling over drinks and then sleeping in and enjoying a long brunch at some hip little hole in the wall diner. Like, long gone.
Our trips now mean mostly sharing. Sharing snacks, and water bottles, and photo stream albums, and seats and laps, and toys, and diapers, and group texts, and stories from our lives in these short little bursts riddled with interruptions of things like, 'honey, don't put that in your mouth,' or 'where does it hurt?'
Our trips mean meals together, which is symbolic and important in and of itself. Even if the meals are breakfast at the hotel pool, or mostly corralling kids back to the table at restaurants that tease small children with their seemingly inconsequential attributes like a staircase or nearness to a parking lot.
Meals where food gets divided, shared, spilled, and well, some is eaten and some is packed up in takeout containers for when any of the kids are inevitably hungry in the five minutes within the table. Meals that start out as an order-in pizza party in the hotel room and sweetly morph into a surprise birthday party for my son with cupcakes and hidden presents that give him a grin that leaves a lump in my throat.
Our trips mean packing up and heading out to brave exciting and interesting tourist spots that are mostly selected by how much energy it can expel from our six wild things. We got to visit the Romp 'n Roll indoor play space, Sweet Frog ice cream shop, the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Maymont Park, our hotel pool, and Three Lakes Park & Nature playground. A little rainy and chilly weather was no match for our kids as they marched, skipped, climbed, explored, jumped, and raced their ways around.
It's most definitely a different kind of girlfriends weekend than we used to have, both filled with more joy and love but also more challenges and detours. And we each now live in our own little version of motherhood; drowning sometimes in the worries and pride and questions and doubt that comes with our own unique kids. And it would be incredibly easier to decide that we live too far away, and we have too much busy happening, and new babies to grow, and our own lives to try to juggle.
But we also know that life is too short and too fast and too messy, and sometimes you blink and impossibly eleven years have passed since you all slept under the same roof and sipped on glasses of boxed wine while watching Sex and the City episodes. These two women are my very best friends; they know the writing on the walls of my inner soul and not only that, but when it was written and in what font and color, and why it was written in the first place. The relief of being with my girlfriends always outweighs the challenge it takes to come together in this season of life.
And I hope with all my hopes, that we will always believe that as the seasons continue to change for each of us. Because life IS too short and too fast and too messy and someday we'll blink and my kids will be creating wedding guestlists and I won't even have to ask to include my best friends because, of course, they will already be listed, not for my benefit; but because their influence and support and stories have been important and valuable to my kids.
akt fo lyfe.
love you so much.