Girls Gone Wild?

gratitude

I’m coming off a weekend away with a dear friend I’ve known for over half my life. We’ve been close friends for 22 years. It was a fabulous yet draining weekend–it was supposed to be a typical Girls’ Weekend. It was anything but. She wanted me to write about how Karma bitch-slapped us for all the stupid (and possibly illegal) shit we pulled when we were younger and reckless and invincible–when our skin was taut, our bellies were flat, and consequences didn’t matter as much. We had quite the unexpected weekend that may or may not have involved law enforcement, an impounded car, possible bribery, a girl named Mo, several 7-Elevens, a bowling alley, a lost wallet, a suspended license, and many other things that need not be named. Yet we didn’t do anything wrong! It was the confluence of bad luck and timing. We couldn’t believe that we were actually playing by the rules, but every time we turned around, we became more and more mired in the briar patch. After all the stupid things we pulled so many years ago and never got caught–we, at 40 years old with our creaky knees, were called up to face the music, it seemed, of past foolish decisions.

My friend wanted me to tell you all the details about how crazy this weekend was. It is certainly one of those stories we’ll still talk about in 30 or 40 years. But this morning, I realized the absurdities weren’t what I wanted to share today. Maybe later–it really was a clusterfuck. But today, I’m processing how we got here. And who we were, and who we are now. In one sense, she and I haven’t changed a bit. No matter how much time passes between us, I know who she is, and she knows who I am. I look at her, and we’re still 20 years old.

But through two decades, we’ve seen each other through marriages, children, divorces, career decisions, geographic moves, and a lot of tears and laughter. Each of these changes us. On the flight back home alone, I reflected on the weekend and how wonderful it was to see her and spend time with her again. And I processed all the heavy life issues we caught up on. I wondered, “How did my life come to this moment?”

I met her when life was full of possibilities, when we were young and vibrant and optimistic. We had only just begun writing the stories of our lives. We could do anything in life, and we did do a whole hell of a lot, good and bad–mostly very, very funny. Life, as it’s apt to, put us through the wringer. It has shaken the way we see the world, what we believe to be true, how we thought the world worked. We’ve mourned the loss of what we thought our futures held, of the lives we built before endings and betrayals and disappointments. We’ve questioned some of our decisions, and where to go from here.

I never for a moment thought I would be knocking on the door of 40 as a single Momma of two little ones, living in the suburbs, working a stable and sensible job. Granted, I’m not known for my sensible shoes or clothes, but my suburban lot in life was not something I ever planned, or wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I love the life I’ve built. But who I am today and my life as it looks today was not ever anything I wanted to strive for.

But wait–Who I am today?…I’m so much less anxious, and rigid, and black and white than I ever was. I am more patient and kind and loving. I am more thoughtful and measured and calm. Those struggles in life–I dealt with each of them in ways that brought me to this kinder, gentler, easier version of me. I stumbled into me.

Some moments I lament how un-normal my life is. Well, our Girls’ Weekend (La Femme Hangover??) was certainly not normal. So, par for the course I suppose (speaking of which, if anyone asks, I did not want to commandeer a golf cart). I am reminded there is no such thing as “normal.” Despite how ridiculous the weekend was, at each step of the way, we turned to each other and said how grateful we were to be going through it with each other, and we enjoyed our time together. Such is life. Be grateful for who you’re with at each moment and enjoy your time together. No matter how crazy or not normal or unexpected it is. 

The law enforcement official who may or may not have been part of this adventure kept saying “I hope you’ve learned your lesson.” Yes ma’am. I’ve learned my lesson–of gratitude. 

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