It all started when I picked Cami (my DRC traveling buddy) up from the airport on Thursday night. We stayed in a hotel together and yapped and giggled until the wee hours of the morning. Cami and I will be linked together for all eternity after what we saw together when we visited Congo. If something ever happens to my husband, I'm going for Cami. I just love her with my whole heart. Then we picked up Carrie (Texas) from the airport on Friday morning. As soon as she saw us turn the corner at the baggage claim area, she burst into tears. The weekend was that emotional. People needed this weekend like they need air. We all three hugged right there in front of the baggage carousels and didn't let go. I knew right then that the weekend was going to be something extraordinary.
The three of us had a loooong time until we could check into our house, but since we still didn't even know where it was, we decided to take a little jaunt out there and just scope the place out. Weird does not even begin to describe it. I now know why there are no pictures of the bedrooms in any of the brochures. We pulled up and there was classic rock blaring out of the speakers on the deck. I knocked on the door and the cleaning crew said I could come in and take a peak. What happened next scared the absolute crap out of me. I am touring the house, noticing the awesome kitchen, hot tub, living area, etc. I kept walking back to the area where most of the bedrooms were and oh. holy. hootch! There was a comatose white haired woman laying in one of the beds- arms all jutting out with post mortum stiffness. I'm thinking, "Who in the world is this lady and why is she here?" I wasn't quite sure what to say. I mean, when you call and book a rental house, would it ever in a million years occurred to you to ask if a comatose old woman was living there?" Ummmm... WTF! (Oh my dod, girls! A half dead woman lives here!) I went back into the car and told the others about it. Oddly enough, when we go back to check into the house, old dead woman's door has a sign on it that says, "Guests- do not come in here!" So this old lady (or her ghost- we still haven't figured out which) made guest number 15. She enjoyed moaning a lot in the wee hours and the strange smell of some- ahem- herbal refreshment wafted from her general direction on more than one occasion, but never once did her door open! Creepy. Lucky for us, Stori (Indiana) is a medium so it all worked out okay. Don't doubt though that the owner of this property will get a very strongly worded letter from me about that whole old lady in my space situation.
After we got checked in, girls from all over the country started rolling in in twos and threes. We sat on our huge deck and laughed and joked and all got to know each other. By dinner time, everyone had arrived. By 10 pm and after a few cocktails we were all the very best of friends.
If you remember, I once wrote about how my favorite pair of underwear was being held together by a safety pin. Behind my back, the girls all decided that they needed to each bring me some new "drawers" or underpants as Carrie kept calling them. So on Friday night, I became the recipient of 492 new pairs of panties and one Ms. Clause outfit for when I'm feeling frisky (or just in the Christmas spirit).
I can't really explain what happened this weekend. There are not words. I tried to convey to my husband last night just how magical the whole thing was. I think that every single person there got exactly what they needed from it. Some needed to get away from their kids. Some needed a shoulder to cry on. Some needed to practice their routines for their HBO comedy specials. Some just needed a friend. How we were all there for one another was beautiful. Some people were going through some tough stuff. We listened, we supported, we got inspired- then we laughed it off and kept going.
I have sat around my house today and smiled a million times thinking over the good memories- and laughing like a nut at all the inside jokes flying around on facebook today. I've made 13 new best friends. There is not anything I wouldn't do for any one of those women. If one of them called me and needed me, I would hop in a car or get on the next flight to be there with them- and I know they would do the same for me. Just having that makes me one of the luckiest women alive. I will apologize in advance because I am sure I will be writing about things that happened on the retreat for weeks to come. Can't help it. It was just that good.
For my girls: Stori, Amanda, Ellen, Natalie, Michele, Jamey, Crystal, Renee, Glenna, Cami, Carrie, Birgit, Sandy and Vagine- I LOVE YOU ALL! Can't wait to do it again next year!
all photos by Ellen Bugler. http://ellenjoyphotography.blogspot.com/