For several nights I've been scanning and scanning pictures...dozens of pictures depicting a rite of friendship that is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year - my annual Lago Women's Trip to Port Aransas.
My friend Nancy asked for the photos months ago - she wants to compile a scrapbook. I jotted it on my list..."photos to Nancy"...and had very good intentions...but the months flew by and suddenly, we're down to the wire once again.
The problem with 'film' photos is...they're film! They have to be pulled from an album, scanned and saved, one by one. But I discovered an 'up' side to this - I was forced to slow down, really look at the photos for the first time in ages...think about the years that have come and gone in between...the things we've survived, the things that we just couldn't overcome or control.
Ten years doesn't seem that long ago - until I take a closer look at our faces. I had just turned 40 the first year we went! I don't think I'd ever realized that before...never made the connection. No wonder I had the overwhelming urge to pack up my things and escape my life...my kids, my husband, my house and all that comes with it...not forever, of course...just for a few days.
I just wanted to step into a void - which I envisioned as the beach. I could see myself on a lounge chair facing the waves, reading a book (this is before I needed my readers!) and sipping on a tall, cold margarita. I could feel the sun warming me...the surf and the gulls singing to me. There would be no meals to cook, no dishes to wash. I'd just eat dry roasted peanuts. Maybe some salsa and chips. No one would be calling "Mom! I need..." or "Mom! Can you...?" I would just be me. I felt "I" and "me" needed to get re-acquainted.
It wasn't too hard finding some women to go with me...but it wasn't as easy as I expected. But those of us that went were lightheaded...downright GIDDY..from the sense of freedom.
Mary Kay, Jacque, and I were piled into Conni's van. That first year, and for a few years afterward, we made a loop below San Antonio on the way to pick up Nancy, who had moved away but even to this day is considered a Lago Vista Woman.
We picked Rachel up at the tiny Port Aransas airport - her pilot husband Carl dropped her off - the plane was full of her kids, waving goodbye. I can't remember where they had been.
Tamara, one of my Deer Park friends, and Marla, her sweet sister who recently passed away, met us at the condos. I'm glad I had that weekend with Marla. Kim and Susan also met us there with their husbands (in another condo, of course!)
That first year we decided it was so much fun...such a great idea...that we had another girls' weekend in November (a fabulous B&B in Fredericksburg)...and another in April (another fabulous B&B in Salado) and were planning a trip to New York City!
Tom pulled me back down to reality. Once a year was plenty...I guess.
Over the years, some faces stayed the same, some replaced others. - with moms, there are always going to be scheduling conflicts...Girl Scout camp or training, football games, band competitions...you-name-it. We have a tendency to put others first. Especially our kids. Or even other people's kids.
I've been selfish enough to go every year. With no regrets, whatsoever. I never had to resort to eating just dry roasted peanuts - what a surprise to discover some women actually LIKE to cook! And some really like to clean up! Live and learn...
But it caught on. One year there were about fifty women from Lago Vista overrunning Port Aransas! We were everywhere!
Naturally, back home...being such a small town...rumors spread like wildfire: "Oh..." (wink,wink) "...you were at Port Aransas!" (another wink, wink.) A few of us originals, who just craved a quiet escape (and no rumors), decided to go on a different weekend from the masses.
We also wanted a chance at the Absolute Best room - the one that had a wall of windows facing the ocean. Enter "Hurt and Misunderstood Feelings, Episode #1".
That's the problem. As I perused each picture, remembered what was going on before, during, and after each particular moment captured in time, I thought of all the misunderstandings, hurt feelings, separations that have occurred over the years...despite the happy, laughing faces frozen in the photographs.
And it makes me really, really sad.
I see women who at one time were best friends...closer than sisters...laughing and hugging in pictures, but who now refuse to speak to each other. I see women that I myself once considered close friends, but that I haven't seen or talked to in months and months, even though we live in the same little town.
So many changes over such a short period of time. Our children have grown up. Marriages have weathered huge storms...or fallen apart. Our children have graduated, gotten jobs, had babies. We've gone back to school, gotten new jobs, moved away. We've shared...withheld...judged...hurt feelings.
Driving home from Port Aransas after that first trip...or the second...or even the third, I would never have guessed that in this year, our tenth, best friends would no longer be talking...or that the women I once saw once a week... confiding, laughing, crying, supporting...would turn judgmental and distant with each other.
What happened to unconditional friendship, to writing "the bad things that are done to you in sand" and "the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble"? (Arabic Proverb)
But no matter how sad all of that makes me, in my mind I see the dolphins dancing around the ferry, picture the sunrise from our balcony, and hear the surf and the empty dancefloor at Sharkey's calling me (because we go before the crowds hit.)
Port Aransas, here I come...
Over the years...