I awoke around 7 (planning a short last run/walk with Robin and Amy) and opened the windows in my room. The sun was breaking through, the birds were singing, and I felt completely at peace. What a week! I knew it would continue to unfold in my mind as I headed home and I wanted to capture every last detail in my brain and my senses. The run/walk was a little wet - fog and rain mixed together but exquisitely beautiful. After some coffee and fruit we loaded up the vans and were off. I would miss Tomasso and Marco and their smiles and infinite patience for this group of crazies. ( the things they heard on those long van rides probably make them wonder about the sanity of American women….)
The airport experience was easy, some more last minute gift shopping was done, and we were off to Paris and then Atlanta. We had more movies and wine and food on the trip, savoring every last minute of decadence (Robin and I were in first class so our experience was slightly different…..) and then arrived home.
One of the most wonderful things about travel is coming home. We savor every experience while away but then arriving home is a wonderful type of joy also. No bed feels as good as my own, it’s so fun to distribute the gifts and even the chore of unpacking is fun when you pull out your sand covered boots and realize just YESTERDAY you were dipping your toes in the Mediterranean. We all laughed about how hard re-entry to reality might be, and I think it has been. It has also been gloriously wonderful as we counterbalance the decadence with healthy eating, exercise, and the warm hugs and smell of our children and partners. I have never been more grateful to have extraordinary (SERIOUSLY) women in my life. These people are badasses in their own right, and collectively a FORCE like no other. I’m quite confident we could run the country if asked to…..(we might have to slow down the wine consumption….).
This little summary of our trip is just that - a LITTLE summary; the trip was so much MORE than I can put into words, and I’m confident that each woman would write a slightly different story. (that would be wonderful - the trip perspective from EACH person on the trip - I challenge you ladies to put pen to paper, and by the time we have 13 perspectives, we probably have a NOVEL in the making) LESS interesting novels have been published, I’m sure!
When I wrote the piece about Christy’s bday party in Puerto Rico, I wrote a short blurb on each of the women in the group. I’m going to attempt to do the same here, although it will be hard because I KNOW all of these people so well - I am confident I won’t be able to capture the depth of their badassery. I’m going to attempt to write a small bit about how I see their individual beauty.
Lorraine - you have been my friend the LONGEST of this group. We have shared years and years of experiences together. You are one of the smartest women I know; funny and real and compassionate. You are harder on yourself than anyone could be. You are beautiful beyond words (even though you don’t see it!) and your smile lights up a room. The high kicks as part of your dance routine are spectacular! Let your soft, vulnerable side out - trust the universe and think happy thoughts. You set goals and intentions and then you GO THE FUCK AFTER THEM. I love this about you. You are an example of wonder for your children (they may not see it now, but certainly will someday!) You have a wonderful future ahead with Colin - full of love and adventure! I am looking forward to our next adventure already.
Juli - our story also goes so far back - to window bathing suits and one day cruises and margaritas and late night studying. You have grown into an amazing woman- smart and witty and so beautiful! You have the most spectacular eyes I have ever seen, and we ALL wish we could have your figure! You wear everything beautifully, you embrace life and all of its magic, and I’m so happy we have stayed friends for so long. I proudly call you the only friend who has been to all the weddings. :) And helped me through the endings. :) Follow your heart, my friend, it always knows where you should go.
Christy - ah Christy. I love you so much; I love how you love your husband (who doesn’t love your husband?), your children, and your friends. Thank YOU for inspiring ME with your birthday trip. This one would have never happened without that one. Thank you for freely and wonderfully sharing your tribe with me - I love them like my own. I hope you feel the same after this journey. I think of our workdays in the convertible, of sharing a glass of wine on the beach in Virginia Beach, the women’s march, LeGoo, fishing in key west while strategizing, the facials at Lake Oconee, drinking ALL the drinks, and NOW….the opportunity to work together again!! I’m so excited for that. You are just lovely my friend - you have made my world a better place.
Kristin - the only person I know who completely GETS IT when we talk about our upbringings. You have climbed mountains to get to where you are. You are an incredible wife (I mean…the work you had to do to get to Italy!), mom to your adorable boys, and so focused and driven in all you do each day. Remember to take care of you my sweet friend - ain’t nobody happy if mama ain’t happy. You are caretaker to the world; an amazing friend and one of the funniest damn people on earth. Thank you for sharing your soul and your clothes with me. You are a gorgeous work of art!
Gail - the newest of my friends. You are such a badass and amazing soul! Those twin cutie pies are so lucky to call you mama - you set an example for them that is brilliant and wonderful and WTF does Cinderella DO???? I love your passion for art and food and wine - and I knew we would be friends when I saw the REAL you come out and heard you talk about your life adventures and your wonderfully brilliant family. It means so much to me that you came to Italy (during a difficult time with your family no less) and shared my birthday. I love the REALNESS of you Gail and you make me laugh every day. I love the FOG and the FOL. I look forward to many more years of friendship.
Jenny - my LGF to the end!! You, my friend, are so many things all rolled up into one! You are so brilliantly smart and creative with a tender heart that isn’t seen by many. The combination of those two things is not often found, and if you can harness the power of bringing them together, you might actually rule the world. :) I love your take charge way - the concierge was BRILLIANT IDEA (one of many of your brilliant ideas…your head is so full of brilliant ideas!), and your zest for living life to the fullest is energizing. YOU can do anything you set your mind to - you are an amazing mom (the authenticity with which you parent is a magnificent example to all of us - encouraging your kids to “feel the feels” and be real), have wonderful taste (that blue cape was worth every penny - not to mention the rest of the get up; I hope you feel BEAUTIFUL when you wear it, because you are - inside and out!), Let your heart shine….and all the love you want and deserve will follow.
Amy - my friend that I got to fall in love with again this week! You have been part of my life since 1997 when we joined a drug company together. You lived in the city; I lived in the burbs; I had small kids; you were single….we’ve seen each other go through so many phases of life; I literally now live one block from where you lived and you live in the burbs! (not AS burby…lol) I am grateful for your wonderful shopping sense (or I might be naked most days since I obviously need you to dress me), your self deprecating humor, and your ability to make everyone around you feel special. You are beautiful beyond words and your daughters are so so lucky to have you as a role model. I’ve been in awe of your decorating sense since the 90’s - your home always gorgeous and unique in a way that seems effortless to you! My only regret is you don’t work for Alexion….there’s still time though! I enjoyed every minute of being with you this week and I am COMMITTED to spending more time with you in Atlanta because you truly are one of my favorite people in the world - thank you to Tuscany for reminding me about my Amy!
Liz -Sweet, adorable Liz! I knew I would love you when Zach told me I would. I’m still hoping for some type of union between your Emily and Zach in the future so we can just be the sisters that we actually are. Actually - if they married, what WOULD that make us? mother in laws once removed? Anyway, I digress. YOU are this wonderful unexpected person; seemingly demure, yet shockingly funny!! You are so beautiful inside and out - a deep thinker that loves clothing and skin care products at the same time. Your smile this week made me happy on so many occasions; I could see you just living in each moment, taking it in, and feeling the same level of gratitude that I was feeling. It’s wonderful when you see your own feelings reflected in your friends’ feelings! You are able to live in the moment, eat the food and drink the wine, and laugh in a delightful way. I am grateful our children brought us together, and I look forward to spending more time together at home. I loved reenacting Italy last night at A Mano with our significant others….you are a simply wonderful human being.
Halle - first, you rock a blue bobbed wig like nobody’s business. You always have a wonderful story to tell, you give a beautiful toast, and have more energy than anyone I’ve ever met!! I love your spirit and zest for life, your passion for your family and friends, and your amazing hugs. We have been through many highs and lows in life together, and you give the best advice in the world in a level headed, clear thinking kinda way. I’m so grateful you came on this trip - I know you have so much going on in life; I know it was not easy- I look forward to sharing so many Italy stories on our runs in the future!
(and ps….thank you for all the Seanie hand me downs for Wilson! xoxoxo)
Ashley - my oh so tough but oh so sweet friend. You have a heart of gold, and have weathered many storms with me in this life. I am grateful to my ex husband for bringing you (and others) into my life, and I’m so happy I got to keep you! I adore you and Scott and Carly - individually and as a family. Your love, passion, and dedication to them is beautiful! You are a wonderful friend - someone who has seen me at my best and my worst and put up with me on both occasions. You make me laugh like crazy, your dry wit and your dance moves alike! You took over that dj stand like the badass that you are and OMG I loved the flat Lisa’s you made for the trip. I literally laugh out loud when I see them in the photos. You tell it like it is - ain’t no sugar coating with you, sister….and I appreciate that so much. THANK you for coming on this trip smack dab in the midst of a very busy life. I want to see you MORE in the ATL. We are neighbors, after all, and we’ve spent more time in Italy together than in Atlanta.
Robin - scooby nate! Damn our history is so long I’m not sure I can sum you up in one little blurb. First, you’ve come a long way from Mississippi baby, and yet there is still so much Mississippi in you - this is what makes you PERFECT. Seriously, I heard from everyone on the trip how much they “loved Robin”..and who doesn’t? You are a beautiful, funny, dynamic, southern babe that lights up a room when you enter it. You are so good at LIFE because you are real to the core. You are an amazing mom and wife - balancing all of that with a DRIVE TO SUCCEED at work that is unsurpassed by anyone I know. Success will follow you everywhere you go, Scoob, because people just LOVE you. I love you and am grateful for our 20 plus years of friendship, storytelling, adventures, laughter, tears, joy, pain, marriage, divorce, kids, travel, food, wine, highs and lows. Shine on, sister.
Elizabeth - kid sister, sass, Kentucky lovin bestie. I love to tell people that when I met you you were an atheist liberal and now you are a born again Christian republican….(probably an exaggeration of sorts on either end..but you know how I love to LIE/EXAGGERATE like that) but the beauty is, I love you on either end of the spectrum. You have been there for the birth of my babies, as my marriages fell apart, and through my various highs and lows - all the while with a shoulder to lean on and words of wisdom to share. You have committed in public to one of my friends as her domestic partner for insurance benefits (heehee) - admirable. (we ARE Alexion, after all) You are one of the sweetest, kindest souls I know; you see the good in people always, and you are funny as shit on top of it. We have too many stories to tell (nor should we in a public forum) in this short paragraph, but know that I have loved having you by my side every step of the way. You are so beautiful - inside and out - and I KNOW there is a big beautiful LOVE in your future. In the meantime, you are deeply loved by me and all of your wonderful friends!
PJ - This writing wouldn’t be complete without including you, even though you had to miss this trip - saddest thing ever and the worst timing on the planet for you to be struggling with some health issues. Tears come to my eyes when I think about you not being part of this journey, but the reality is you were next to me every step of the way (WWPJD) JUST as you have been in life. We’ve stirred low country boils (wait - that was Kevin), bought lift serum when we didn’t need it, travelled together, spent more nights together than I did with my husband at the time, moved furniture in and out of so many places, changed jobs, traded in men for others, birthed babies, spent time in the hospital together for each of us and our children, redecorated houses, baked cookies, drank wine - a lot of wine, walked and ran and yoga’d, solved the world’s problems (GO!), talked each other off ledges, simultaneously drove purple Tauruses, cried, and mostly laughed. It’s the laughter I think of most when I think of you sass. Laughing until we cry. Your energy is so all encompassing - you walk into a room and it’s palpable - in a very good way! Your heart is huge - you love in such a big way - be it your immediate family, your extended family, your friends, or the janitor at your kids’ school. EVERYONE knows PJ - and I’m sorry, but we are going to have to do this trip AGAIN so you can be a part of it for real. I know you will be healthy and your energetic self in no time - take care of YOU sister, and let all the people who love you take care of you too. These women didn’t get to know sassqueetcha which is the saddest part of it all. Thank you, PJ, for being one of my very best friends in the world for over two decades. You have embodied the words love and friendship, and I am so very grateful for you.
We are all home now - back to real life - I look at the pictures daily and am grateful beyond belief. Whatever I imagined this trip might be…it was more. THANK YOU to each of you for making 50 amazing for me.
In the words of David Bowie - “Aging is an extraordinary process where you become the person you always should have been.”. Thank you my people for helping me get to where I should have always been and I am grateful to be on your journeys to your uniquely wonderful selves too. Ciao Bella!