Coffee shop. Christiansburg, Virginia. The swim team has practice, so our daughter is at the aquatic center, but the pool is on holiday hours so I can’t swim this morning. I sit on a wood and metal stool at the bar facing the main road to the big box stores. I see the reflection of the pastry case in the window glass. The baristas have a breather before the morning rush and are leaning against the counter talking. I hear their chatter, and the occasional hiss of the milk steamer for mobile orders, and the beep-beep-beep of the oven, and the crinkle of paper as a warm pastry is inserted into its sleeve.
As soon as I pick the girls up from swimming, bring them back to Starbucks for their Friday morning treat — the highlight of their week — and then drop them off at school, and then have one meeting at 8:30, I will get to leave town for my annual Girls’ Weekend.
There are five of us with matching tattoos. Or at least five variations of the same five-petaled flower. We got them in Chicago one year. Four of us have been friends for over 30 years, and the fifth more than 20. Over the years our weekends have changed, from the wild days of pre-married life, to wedding showers, to baby showers, to parenting young children, to parenting teens, to our aging parents, to our aging selves. Every year for at least the past five we’ve wondered about perimenopause, and if we’re going through it, and how much is menopause going to suck.
Always we laugh. We laugh so much it hurts, so that my face hurts, and my abs hurt, and my throat becomes raspy by the end of the weekend from all the late nights talking. These women are my rocks. We’ve known each other since our tender childhood and college years. We know each other’s every flaw, and every strength. We are raw and open with each other. We tell each other how awesome we are, we bitch and complain, we celebrate, and we eat and drink and lay around all weekend doing nothing, hardly even leaving the house. And it is amazing.
I’ve got a suitcase full of sweatpants, a (large) tote bag full of liquor, and a phone full of podcasts to listen to on the drive to the Georgia Mountains cabin we rented for the weekend. I’ve killed a few minutes by writing this, so now I’m down to three hours before I leave town. I’m ready to go.