We were late like January’s rent, so had to take the whiplash front-row seats at the theater. We didn’t mind though; my Sista-friends and I were pleased to see the theater so packed even though it was two weeks after Girls Trip’s release. We would’ve attended the first week, but we were out of the country on our own girls’ trip.
I’ve taken girls’ trips for as long as I can remember. I guess some could say that I’ve been taking them forever, since it was just me and my mom most of my life. We’d regularly jump on those $49 People’s Express flights to New York and morph from mother and daughter into girlfriends. For 48 hours, she wasn’t harassing me about grades, or nagging me to straighten my hair or posture, or to clean my room — and I wasn’t a sassy, eye-rolling, child who thought she was far more intelligent than she was. When we were away—when we were out of our family-box with societal rules and pressures—we indulged each other’s whims. She’d take me to the garment district to satisfy my love of clothes; but I’d let her negotiate over each item (though I would always be embarrassed) to satisfy her Big-Time business tycoon negotiator fantasies. We’d walk down the diverse, sensory-overloading streets of New York, invigorated by the energy, talking in staccato clips, pausing to buy dollar slices of pizza and hot dogs (my mother loved nothing better than a good hot dog). We saw Broadway plays (I contend to this day that CATS sucks), and off-Broadway plays and off-off-Broadway plays. The trips were about livin’ and indulgin’ ourselves. I got to know who my mother was – outside of me – on these trips.
Leaving my mother to go to college ferried in a new variety of girl’s trips. Instead of 2 women in a fancy Manhattan hotel, college trips were 13 females stuffed into a cheap motel somewhere down South. It wasn’t about thriving, but surviving. My friends and I learned to depend on each other during those trips. How do we get to an away-game on $53? Regina met a cute guy and they need some alone time, can we give them the bathtub as their suite for the night? The ice machine is broken, how are we going to chill the Mad Dog? I got a check in the mail from home today—let’s roll! Who has some lotion, a dress, socks, etc. I can borrow? Can somebody slap this perm in my head before we go to the club?
We were young, free, and broke. We were brave, fearless and scarily naïve. We took rides from strangers, stayed on the floor of apartments of people we met 2 hours before, went to after-parties of folks we’d met in the club, caught rides, fell in-and-out of 24-hour road trip-love. We were accepting of each other’s foolishness. We got so drunk that we had to battle for toilet time and space, peed on the side of the road in every Southern state, had sex 5-feet from another person in hopes that they were asleep. We bonded over what messes we were and how much fun we were having -surviving our messy lives.
Then adulthood snuck up. The world expects that you aren’t quite so messy: no one expects you to pass out drunk or to pee on the side of the road once you are grown. Some don’t even expect you to take girls trips. It’s as if now that you are an adult—you aren’t supposed to like fun, be silly, or be without your spouse for more than 8 hours (if you are married). That formula doesn’t add up to me. I’m not passing out or relieving myself on the side of the roads; however, I take at least one girls trip per year (Las Vegas, L.A., Napa, Cancun, Cabo, Grand Cayman, New York, Mykonos, and so on). These trips give me life—literally. They remind me of who I am at the core, without being defined by who I am to other people (mother, wife, boss, etc.). The weight of everyone else and their expectations are left at home, allowing me to be as light and bubbly as the champagne we drink by the pool (and by the beach, and in the lounge, and in our room). We, my girls and I, allow ourselves and each other to be lazy (sleep until 10:00 if you want to. Don’t move all day if you don’t want to); flirty (yes, fine bartender, please bring us another and make it diiiiiiirttty); irresponsible (yes, we said another bottle); adventurous (try it! jump! Look at you!) and indulgent (buy it honey). We laugh until can’t see and reveal parts of ourselves that we don’t allow others to see. We bond.
Women need that — bonds with other women; and sometimes getting away, leaving behind responsibilities, expectations, the need for perfection, standards, and judgmental eyes, frees us to just be us.
“I think that is one reason why women live longer than men. Friendship between women is different than friendship between men. We talk about different things. We delve deep. We go under, even if we haven’t seen each other for years. There are hormones that are released from women to other women that are healthy and do away with the stress hormones … It’s my women friends that keep starch in my spine and without them, I don’t know where I would be. We have to just hang together and help each other.” —Jane Fonda