This weekend I headed back to Chapel Hill, North Carolina to meet up with my girlfriends from college. It had been a couple of years since we have all been together and I was very excited about the trip. Although it would be much cooler to say I didn’t care what I looked like for the weekend…that what I wore, how much I weighed or how dark my roots were didn’t matter…that would be a lie. The truth is I did care. It wasn’t about impressing my friends or trying to look better than them...it was simply about showing some improvement.
I love the emails that start about three weeks prior to these trips. One girl will say, “Hey ladies! What’s the plan?” Someone will email back “Plan? I PLAN on getting drunk from the time I am there until the time I land back home! I SO need a break!” Another friend might say, “You know it! The old girl is back so WATCH OUT! HOLLER!” And so on and so on. It is important to note that most of these emails are most likely sent while these women are driving minivans, packing lunches, and unloading the dishwasher. Good to remember when you are setting expectations.
Everything was going as planned until two weeks prior to the trip when I received the following email:
“Kelsey, bad news…no good on childcare for girls weekend. Husband is going to be out of town, looks like we are going to have to bring baby Carson with us…grandma will pick her up when we arrive… Lsorry”
Normally that news wouldn’t have been a big deal. But when your flight consists of completely sold out, 6-hour red-eye from LAX to RDU, this becomes a problem. In one quick email, my hopes of an ambien + wine + kid free start to my weekend were over.
There is not much to say about the flight except that it was close to unbearable. That sweet child who we all love so much on Earth became a demon while 40,000 feet in the air. From the moment we went through security, until about 2 hours into the flight, she screamed as if she was being tortured. She wiggled, banged, screeched, and spilled until eventually, as her mother held her in a hog wrestling rodeo hold, she finally fell asleep. The fact that we didn’t have a ticket for her made it even more fun. For the remaining 2 ½ hours, we sat frozen, afraid to move and overwhelmed with fear. At point during the flight, my girlfriend and I looked at each other and said, “This was a bad idea. We should have just stayed home and organized our linen closet.”
Somehow we made it, handed a naked and exhausted one-year old to her grandma, and headed into Chapel Hill. When I saw all my friends, they strangely recognized me right away. I could barely believe it because I was certain all my highlighting, self-tanning, crunching, and shopping would have made me unrecognizable. Not so much. We all hugged each other and spent a good thirty minutes telling one another how good we looked, how much fun we are going to have, and how great it was to be back. We checked our phones one last time and then committed to the next 48 hours.
With no sleep, a time change, and deep desire to relive our past, we met for cocktails at the hotel bar. We started the evening with adult drinks like Cosmos and beer…we ended the evening with not so adult drinks like Irish car bombs and Goldshalger shots. We went to every bar on Franklin Street, both old and new, and relived each minute of our four years in college. Eventually we found an Irish bar that played Hip Hop, Katy Perry, and JLo…we had found our home and things were looking up.
Throughout the night, I brought out dance moves that I haven’t used in over 10 years. At one point, I fell down on the dance floor. My friends may say it was because of the drinks, but in my heart, I know it was simply because I took it too low for my legs to handle. Later in the night, a few of us decided it would be a good idea to buy some cigarettes. There is nothing cooler than watching a bunch of moms who have never really smoked before, pick up the habit around 2am in a college town. Slowly, over a span of 5 hours, we had become those thirty something women I used to feel sorry for. Why did we think dancing in a circle holding hands was a good idea? Is requesting “Get on the Floor” at age 34 really appropriate? These are the questions that keep me up at night.
I am not sure when we all knew it was time to go, but the signal was given, and we eventually got into a cab. The price of the cab ride was $30…the distance we traveled…3 blocks. Some things never change. We got back to our hotel room, threw on our pajamas and listened to old school rap. We laughed, we made fun of each other, and we ordered pizza to our room.
The following day we took it down a notch. We all walked to the football game, bought UNC gear for our kids, and had dinner together. And this is what I realized…getting away these days takes a lot of work. There is a lot scheduling, organizing, and planning that has to take place. Lists have to be made and car pools have to be set up. But in the end, no matter how much we have to do to make them happen, they are a necessity. They remind us who we were before life got complicated. They make us laugh, and in the end, they give us a reason to take off our sweats, throw on self-tanner, and show everyone that we have made some improvement.