I had not taken a girls weekend since the days I could still pass for a girl. Before settling down, little consideration beyond whether my bank account could endure it went into skipping out of town with girlfriends. I could pull the door closed without even a fleeting concern for anything left behind as the only one depending on me was a roommate who expected her half of rent whether I was present and accounted for or enslaved in an Aruban human trafficking ring. Since getting married and having children, I had been called out of town for the occasional business engagement, but I had not ventured off with friends on a trip dedicated purely to frivolity and trans-fats.
A girls weekend once you are married or have children is a different sort of trip. Most obviously, you’re not actually a girl anymore. In this case, we were all grown women, a motley assembly of personal circumstances and experiences, united by under-eye puffiness and a profound desire to wear pants that once fit. We weren’t looking for woolly adventures or interested in going to nightclubs named for elements of the periodic table. We just sought quiet, camaraderie and slub cotton. Each of us left behind children, chores, jobs, bills and towering piles of laundry for a couple of days in a place where none of these things seems to exist: Nantucket.
I realized I’d ascended to a more mature vacationing mode as I boarded the island-bound ferry, loaded with names like Vivian and Winthrop. And those were just the King Charles Cavaliers. It was like being a passenger aboard the Mayflower, only faster, in the opposite direction and with gin and tonics instead of tuberculosis. As we toted our bags over pathways lined by antique gas lamps, one of us intrepid travelers stopped short to say she had an idea where to get some acid. Maybe we’re not that middle-aged, I thought.
She had meant acidophilus however, and that was probably for the best as we were all tripping enough over the cobblestones thanks to painfully unorthotic shoes that hadn’t been worn since Zac Efron was born.
The weekend brought spurts of window shopping and aimless strolling and the taking of showers the way they do in movies where actual cleansing occurs. Every restaurant experience was a triumph, and not due to Michelin accolades but because it lacked highchairs and the violent tribal chants of children. We asked each other questions and were able to hear the answers. I went through several pages from The New Yorker, actually reading them instead of using them to sop up a bodily fluid. There was plenty of conversation, laughter and sitting upon couches until the urge for a nap overtook.
Alas my friends lack the fortitude I have for sustained sedentary bouts. Their bodies are enlivened by muscular stimulation and an elevated heart rate. They even buy yoga pants to actually partake in yoga. When the majority democratically decreed it time to rent bicycles and take them for a long loop around the island, I tried to bow out gracefully, citing a missing cardiovascular system. Being the youngest of the group, the others had bestowed upon me the moniker Little Sister, and like all big siblings, they didn’t care that I was sure the adage “it’s like riding a bike” would no longer be used if people knew how old I was before my training wheels came off.
As the futility of my protests crystallized so did the realization the others had exercise accoutrements. I spied cross-trainers, breathable fabrics, and eco-friendly water bottles. I darted into the house to secure my own scant provisions, which earned arched eyebrows when I returned wearing boat shoes and a pajamas shirt, holding a mini bottle of sparkling wine. I heaved a leaden leg over the aggressive male crossbar and began pedaling furiously. From my position as the caboose I resembled the pitiable biker at the back of the heap in the Tour de France who makes the spectators muse, “He must have forgotten to blood dope before this thing.” We cycled past stretches of wind-swept beaches and grandiose homes with names such as Fair Haven and Lazy Days, a whimsical contrast to the name I’d given my 10-speed, Mobile Hysterectomy.
By the time we’d reached the ocean, my core body temperature was like that of a WASP watching her muscular gardener shovel mulch. The imagery of a Parisian woman cycling along with a bottle of bubbly in her wicker bike basket had been lost when the Prosecco became an ice pack between my underwire. I dismounted the bike clumsily and peeled away clothing until I was down to my unmentionables — that’s what underwear is called in Nantucket — and I trotted across the sand to the water’s edge while calling over my shoulder to the others, “If I get in the water, this officially makes me a triathlete.” Wading in the frothy surf, my thoughts turned to my not so distant past. The late nights, trendy restaurants, cool clothes, brushed hair, waxed bikini line. With that last thought, I glanced down at my body, covered only by a pair of threadbare underwear and a tank top, and groaned at the evidence of flagging personal grooming, something I never would have overlooked before embarking on a girl’s weekend when I was still a single gal.
“Let’s go, Little Sister, just 8 more miles back!”
Fortunately the bicycle seat was more effective than any Brazilian wax. Not that I’d know about that anymore.
I leave that stuff to the girls.
Erin Donovan moved with her family to the midcoast where she constantly is told she says the word “scallops” incorrectly. She performs live and produces Web sketches derived from her popular humor blog I’m Gonna Kill Him. Follow her misadventures on http://imgonnakillhim.bangordailynews.com and on Twitter @gonnakillhim.