Thursday, August 2, 2012

Girlfriend Getaway ~ Remembering

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Ruth and I had talked about vacationing together for years. As youngsters, I had spent summers with her family, and she’d traveled with my family on vacations. We double-dated as young women, and kept in touch after marrying, even though we lived hundreds of miles from each other. Distance kept us apart, but Ruth and I were always there for each other in spirit. Now, if only we could be together in person again.

Every summer, we’d declare this was the year. Out would come the day planners, dates would be thrown back and forth, but nothing ever materialized. Other things always seemed more pressing.

But in the summer of 2004, I got serious about the matter. My daughter—my only child—had just graduated from high school and I had run around in circles like a wild woman, trying to do a million things in the months prior. The frantic pace had left me wrung out and done in.

And that was just the physical side. Emotionally, I was an even bigger mess. Not only was I facing an empty nest, I sat at the threshold of a very big birthday. Quite frankly, I was terrified. I just needed to get away from it all. I needed to hear myself think.

So, one afternoon I sent Ruth an email and said, in essence, it’s now or never, girlfriend. She must have sensed my desperation, because in a few weeks we had set a date.

Since we’re both beach lovers, the plan was for me to fly to her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. We’d drive a few hours to a beach condo in Orange Beach, Alabama, positioned right on the Emerald Coast, then spend six days doing whatever, whenever. No time restraints. No deadlines. No responsibilities.

It sounded like a fairy tale. The mere thought that I might actually rest while on vacation sent delighted chills up my spine. I wasn’t sure I had ever done such a thing.

The days leading up to my departure seemed eternal, but finally, on a sunny Saturday morning, there I stood in Baggage Claim, waiting for my suitcase to appear, when I heard a familiar voice calling my name. I hadn’t seen Ruth in 10 years, but running toward each other, the time melted away.

Stuffing the luggage into the car, we headed southeast. By evening we stood on the balcony of our condo, gazing out at an ocean stretched like a shiny blue tray, as far as the eye could see. Almost paradise.

“Oh, my!” Ruth said, her voice taking on that giddy pitch that makes her so charming. “I can’t believe we did this!”

I giggled like a school girl. “Me neither. I keep thinking I’ll feel guilty, but I don’t. Isn’t this fabulous?”

The next six days were filled with a simple richness that surpassed my expectations.

Mornings—defined as whenever we got up—found us drinking coffee around a sunny table on the balcony. Just below, an azure ocean stretched wide, the waves splashing rhythmically to the shore, and back again, as if taking our worries with them.

Afternoons were unplanned and unhurried. We soaked up the sun. We took naps. We strolled along white beaches, looking for seashells. We did a little shopping. We stressed about nothing, barely keeping up with what day it was.

Evening hours were perhaps my favorite. Ruth generally concocted some delicious sweet something—loaded with calories, of course—I’d brew some coffee, she'd grab a Coke, and we’d end the day on the balcony, much in the same way it had begun.

Our conversations were comfortable and unforced. At times we laughed so hard it hurt, remembering funny stories of yesterday. Other times, we uncovered our souls, revealing old scars and some fresh wounds. Then there were times when we said nothing at all.

In those quiet moments, I recalled the words of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. “Here on the island,” she wrote, “I find I can sit with a friend without talking, sharing the day’s last sliver of pale green light on the horizon.”

On our final night together, we had an idea. Since we both tend to be worry warts, we decided that we weren’t going to return home worried about anything—including her son considering flying lessons, nor the fact that my daughter had recently announced she was moving out and skipping college in the fall.

So, taking slips of paper, we jotted down the fears we’d brought with us—all of them. Then we took a match, burned the lists over the sink, scooped the ashes in a cup, and walked down to the beach, where we would toss them into the ocean as a symbol of surrendering our worries to God.

At the water’s edge, we stood mesmerized by the vastness of the ocean. I said, “If God can do all of this, he can take care of our feeble problems.”

After a few minutes of silence, we hurled our ashes into the sea. That simple action felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. Together, we prayed a simple prayer, then sat on the beach for a long while. It was a moving experience and one I draw from even now.

The next morning, my readiness to return to the real world surprised me. Then it hit me. Of course! I had come here fragmented and worn out, full of worry and fear, but spending quality time with a friend, surrounded by nature, had made me whole again. I was equipped for the next stretch of road.

Later I would write in my journal: “Every woman needs unhurried time in which to refuel and replenish her energies. Time out with a friend at the beach is the perfect solution.”


Adapted from the original article, first appearing in The Dallas Morning News.


  1. Getaways and girlfriends. What's not to love?

  2. Oh, that was great, Dayle. Loved every word of it. Photos were fab, too. I feel like planning that kind of getaway right NOW! Nice job. Susan

  3. I'm sending this to my friend, Brenda, with the suggestion that we do just this after her chemo.

  4. It's always fun to go somewhere with best friends. Your beach pictures look so beautiful.
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  5. Last year in Sept a friend of 40years Barb and I headed off to France for a month we had a great time, we spent time travelling around France in two tours one in the north and one in the south and in the middle a week in Paris by ourselves, it is nice to travel with a friend of long standing who you know very well you see everything in a different way and it quite relaxing.

  6. So peaceful it brought tears to my eyes!

  7. Lovely post! The 4 of us need to do that!

  8. Beautiful post, Dayle--pictures are gorgeous, great writing, lovely friendship, surrendering to God all your fears and worries--so uplifting, a real heart warmer--thank you!

  9. As usual your story has something for everyone to relate to in one way or another. Hmmm - do you think men can connect and refresh in the same way?

  10. Oh, how I wish I could do the very same thing!
    Time away, with a friend on the BEACH!
    Paris can wait, the beach can't!

  11. We all need to take this to heart and plan something special! I always feel rejuvenated after a trip to the ocean!

  12. Such a sweet time of fellowship. In my book the beach is the best place for everything!


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