What Really Happens Over Ladies Weekend?
Well, booze happens, that’s for sure (see Exhibit#1). We always kid that, like in Vegas, what goes to the beach stays at the beach. In all honesty, nothing illicit has ever taken place. What does happen is chatter, gossip, philosophizing, griping and complaining, comparing notes, and a ton of laughing and giddiness. I think it’s called bonding. As we continue to use the word “profound” on this blog—finding the profound in the course of everyday ordinary existence—I have come to appreciate my friends and these rare weekends more and more with each passing day.
Since we only come together for ladies weekend once in a blue moon now—once a year if we are lucky—we find a lot of life has happened in the interim. We really don’t see each other all that often, sadly. Like we used to do at the bus stop when our kids were little, or when Bunco was sacrosanct because we all needed the get the heck out of the house and unwind at planned intervals. Now, with our kids grown or mostly grown, we have all gone our own way, many returning to careers or traveling or caring for elderly parents.
I’m sure ladies weekend looks quite different at 20 (even more booze and boys might be involved) or 30 (short freedom from the kids, mostly booze and spa and shopping) or 40 (focus on the spa). Now in our 50s, there is some of all that (no boys) but lots more introspection.
Ladies weekend is precious time for catching up, and as the wine flows and the hour gets late, we share the small victories and often large problems that have happened over the past months. Dilemmas are discussed, solutions proposed even some secrets are shared. Our kids are finishing high school or college or are newly out in the world, bringing a whole new set of worries and problems to muddle through. Marriages are now long term so of course these aging relationships are a point of discussion and some complaining—not husband bashing exactly, but griping definitely. We still do appreciate them, and hope they feel the same. More a questioning of what comes next and how to keep it real. On ladies weekends, listening happens, deep listening and deep concern. Sometimes I think we couldn’t live without it, that life would be so much more difficult if we didn’t have the opportunity to spill. It is more than the ocean that sends us back home renewed, albeit with a hangover.
As to the ocean, by the way: We have found the perfect ladies weekend landing pad at the beachfront Hampton Inn in Corolla, OBX. It is reasonable off-season, offers a lovely buffet breakfast and warm cookies after 5. There is an indoor pool and hot tub, which we often have to ourselves on these winter weekends. They even have a resident black cat named Cisco who loves to pose for selfies with the guests. Some of the restaurants on the island remain open, definitely enough to sustain us. Our favorite this time was Fishbones Raw Bar and Restaurant on Duck Road, where we perched at the bar and ate steamed shrimp with chilled Coronas with lime. We also love poking around the Island Bookstore, there is one near Fishbones as well as the one in the cute little enclave of Historic Corolla near the lighthouse.
In February two of my friends and I set off for our much anticipated and long awaited Ladies Weekend. I sensed they had a lot on their minds. Among those of us in the “sandwich generation”—often caught between the responsibilities to both children and aging parents and anticipating the cost of retirement—it’s a challenge to believe the road ahead will be as good as the one already traveled. I think we all feel at some point the weight of regret for a path not taken or dreams unfulfilled.
When my friends asked me about this blog and I explained my vision for it—that as we all get older we should look forward to the Second Act with an attitude of expectancy: Like getting that bike out of the garage and pumping up the tires, and discovering the Capital Trail. Or rounding up our buddies and checking out all the region’s craft breweries, or hiking the Blue Ridge. It’s all easily achievable, there for the taking, this newfound freedom of an Empty Nest. I saw the light go on in their eyes. It was an “aha” moment. My fellow Boomers get it, they just have to be reminded.
So later we were out on the beach, combing for the rare sea glass and the occasional starfish as well as the pretty pebbles and small shells that were abundant—yet every one beautiful and fascinating in its own way. It was a kind of meditation. Although it was the middle of winter, this weekend happened to be unexpectedly mild, to the point we were able to shuck off our layers and actually sunbathe. What an unexpected gift. One of my companions is an elementary school teacher, and she was fretting that she wasn’t working on the lesson plans she brought along. The other felt behind the curve as she had planned to catch up on her reading, which she loves, but rarely has the chance to do since returning to the workforce. Ladies I said, sit back and enjoy the sunshine. Sometimes it’s OK to just…..be.