Hey, Girl, Hey!

11 Dec

beach viewIn most areas of my life I don’t take good very care of myself. I don’t exercise enough; I eat too many sweets and not enough green vegetables; I don’t spend money on new clothes for myself because deep down I believe I don’t deserve nice things (that, coupled with the fact that I hate the way my body looks in a dressing room mirror.) I spend a lot of time primarily taking care of the people I love while neglecting my own needs or wants.

Then I go and do something HUGE for myself: I agree to spend a couple of days in a rented beach house with ten of my best girlfriends whom I’ve known since our days together in junior high school.  Somehow, against all odds, we’ve managed to remain close friends for almost forty years. Every so often we plan a getaway together without husbands or partners, without children or pets. Just us.

The beach house at Mussel Shoals was stunning—right on the water between Santa Barbara and Ventura with the most spectacular views of the ocean imaginable. Everyone brought a ton of food and we all pitched in together, cooking up gourmet meals and then cleaning up afterward. As the wine flowed and the coconut cake was passed around, we talked for hours and hours about our lives; our families, our joys and sorrows.

We laughed—actually, we hooted, we guffawed—we pretty much shrieked like uninhibited second graders running around on the playground during recess. We were vulgar and crass and stayed up until two a.m. talking trash, (Hey, Girl, Hey!) laughing so hard our stomachs hurt the next morning—or maybe it was just the red wine and chocolate.Hey girl hey

After a brunch which included juevos rancheros and mimosas, we took a long walk on the beach and with the cold December wind whipping at our faces we shared our stories with each other. Some of our tales were joyful, filled with newly found love or excitement over a new creative project in the works. Other stories were filled with sorrow and devastation. And then we cried. We cried because we were in a place where we felt safe to open up and reveal our pain to each other without judgment or criticism—a place where love, concern and support for each other decanted faster than the bottles of red wine on the kitchen counter.beach walk

After spending only two days with these women, I became funnier, prettier, and more talented than I was when I first arrived. These women, who’ve only become more beautiful as they age, allowed my capacity for love to expand like a hot air balloon—and not just the love I feel for them, but more importantly, the love I feel for myself. They brought out my best—that special part inside of me that sometimes gets lost in the messiness of life.

As I drove toward home, I felt lighter and more emotionally buoyant than I have in a very long time. I was full up again, satiated with the unconditional love and acceptance that these women offered up so freely to me. As I headed back to my ordinary life, I realized that what I had just experienced over the past two days was indeed extraordinary and I felt blessed.

Off to my left, as the Pacific Ocean unfurled like a sparkling blue comforter laid down just for me, my spirit soared with gratitude.sunset at mussel shoals

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16 Responses to “Hey, Girl, Hey!”

  1. Kelly Garriott Waite (@kgwaite) December 11, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    What a great, great post. Sounds like a wonderful time.

  2. Michele Abbott December 11, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    Right on Sister! Well said. So glad to have you all in my life. I too came home with the twinkle in my eye and stories to tell with renewed joy and animation. My friends remind me again how lucky we are and why it’s important to stop and spend time keeping the connections alive and well. “Hey Girl… Hey.”

    • Allegro non tanto December 11, 2013 at 1:19 pm #

      And you, as always were the life of the party! What a fantastic time we had…Can’t wait for the film festival!

      • Michele Abbott December 11, 2013 at 3:44 pm #

        aw thanks! it’s all about the mustaches… but I would venture to say your reading was a big highlight too 🙂 and so it continues. I hope for a long, long time.

  3. injaynesworld December 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

    How fabulous! The better we feel about ourselves, the better we take care of ourselves. You are awesome in every way, Jessica. Own it, girlfriend! Much love…

    • Allegro non tanto December 11, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

      I really feel lucky to have so many groups of women friends (our writers group especially!) We are indeed lucky.

  4. lflrosen December 11, 2013 at 2:07 pm #

    There’s nothing like life-long girl friends to remind us of who we are and to feel free to let down your hair. You’re post made me want to plan something with my best buddies. Hold those feelings close to your chest and re-live them often.

    • Allegro non tanto December 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm #

      I’ve been re-living them every day since I left the beach!

  5. Becky Green Aaronson December 11, 2013 at 5:18 pm #

    I’m so happy for you, and jealous of you, for this magic in your life. I love, love, love that you made this happen! There’s nothing more energizing than surrounding yourself with people who “get you” without explanation.

    • Allegro non tanto December 11, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

      The best part is that I can always be me around these women!

  6. Britton Swingler December 11, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    I love your friends already. I’ll bet each one of them feels as grateful for you as you do for them. I have always admired those who are able to stay so close to a group of friends for so long–it is such a gift to have the kind of history that engenders a rare and deep love and acceptance that only comes with time, experience, and togetherness. I’m glad you are breathing easier.

  7. Rossandra White December 12, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    Reading this, I felt such a rush of pure love and appreciation for my girlfriends, the old and new, no difference–you ,dear Jessica. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to burst! With that great big heart of yours you evoked these feelings.

    • Allegro non tanto December 12, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

      Oh, Rossandra, you are so sweet. I’m so glad you’re in MY life!

  8. debatterman December 17, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    ‘After spending only two days with these women, I became funnier, prettier, and more talented than I was when I first arrived.’ — Don’t have to be there to know that feeling oh-so-well.

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