I am in my last day of a Girls’ Trip to the beach. Today is the “travel home” day, so my two girlfriends and I will check out of our condo and return home to Tennessee – two to East and one to West.
Michelle and Sheree have been friends since childhood. Sheree and I met when my mom moved us to Lexington, Tenn., after the death of my father. We were 5 years old, lived just a few blocks apart and went to kindergarten at Ms. Lottie Lee Hay’s school in the Coca-Cola bottling plant building. We stayed together all through school, graduating high school together in 1972.
Michelle moved to Lexington when we were 12, and the three of us were known as the Three Musketeers. I’m not sure anyone ever called us that except the three of us, but we liked the moniker.
We have had our “haven’t seen you in years” times during the almost 50 years since high school but have been back together musketeering on a more regular basis for about 10 years.
Girls’ Trips are a different kind of vacation. This isn’t our first trip together, but it’s the first one in a while. The challenge of a Girls’ Trip is discovering how to meld the personalities of women in a way that leads to an enjoyable week for all. In many ways, it’s easier with a large group because the large one will subdivide, often by interests, into smaller, more alike, groups.
When you only have three woman, well, you see. And, we are three completely different creatures, in spite of some serious commonalities in our childhoods.
I hate to talk in generalities, but my nonbinding descriptions would be that one of us is the “out-and-about” vacationer, another is the “relax-and-chill” vacationer and the third is the “work-a-little-play-a-little” vacationer.
Anyone who knows me will immediately know that I am the third vacationer. And that, I can tell you, makes me a hard person to travel with on a Girls’ Trip.
Fellow travelers worry that I am not having a good time. Fellow travelers are reluctant to do their thing if I am not joining them. Fellow travelers say things like, “You work too much,” even though I am, 90 percent of the time, completely in control of my own work schedule.
It’s hard to explain, although the experiences many are having with their work environment because of COVID-19 is making it a bit easier. When you work at home, sometimes a “vacation” can be as simple as doing some of that work with a different view from the window. I love writing this Kitchen Table Talk on a fifth-floor balcony with palm trees swaying below me and the deep blue of the ocean framing the scene.
Luckily, with these two musketeers, it works. When you have survived the thrills and anguish of high school together, when you have stood shoulder-to-shoulder at funerals of parents and classmates, when you have a shared history of homemade chocolate pies, pancakes with strawberry jelly instead of syrup and Saturday nights in front of the television watching “Fantastic Features,” it’s really not so much a traditional Girls’ Trip.
It’s a family vacation.
Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.