That’s what a sign said last weekend as we walked through the Wilmington, North Carolina airport retrieving one of our friends who had flown in for the girls’ weekend that has taken place every year since 1995. That sign extolled the beauty of the Carolinas and the fun to be had as families and friends vacation there.
For 22 years, our friend has opened her Bald Head Island, NC home to us. Most of us became friends as we were also career colleagues, one of us is our host’s friend from college. Some of us still work, some are retired. There are just several of us left from the orignal invitees. New friends have been added so that for the past eighteen years or so, it’s been a group of the same 3 to 6 women who attend on any given weekend. Last week there were five of us. Our weekend begins on a Friday and ends on a Monday and often, it’s the only time that many of us see each other in person throughout the year since we’re scattered around the country.
On these trips, we cover a lot of ground. What a gift! We drink wine, we eat, we shop, we walk on the beach, we look at the sunsets. The artist among us may go off and paint or sketch – but more often than not, she is drawn back into a conversation so that little painting actually gets done. And we talk! Conversations run from the frivolous to the deadly serious. Through these years, we’ve shared happy times and sad. We talk about the graduations and weddings of our children, the births of our grandchildren and the sharing of all the pictures of these bundles of joy. We support and encourage each other through illnesses, divorce, deaths of loved ones. Some of us revel in retirement and others can’t imagine leaving work. Because this is a very involved, activist group, there is a good deal of discussion about politics and the world in which we live. And there’s the usual talk of exercise, cosmetics, anti-aging routines and “procedures.”
I try to explain female friendships to my husband and how, in my opinion, male and female friendships differ. I’ve observed that men tend to do things together while women share emotions more readily and thus I think that many female friendships run deeper. I am blessed to have several clusters of very good friends. I hope you all have groups like this who give you the same joy that my friends give me. As the ad said, “you should be here” (anywhere) with your good friends.
From the Bald Head Island group over the years I’ve learned:
- Laugh from the belly every day – preferably with family or good friends doing it with you
- There’s a lot that can be handled in the company of a friend, with a glass of wine and the sight and sound of the ocean alongside you
- If you ever suffered fools, stop it right now. You don’t have time to waste on this anymore. You never did.
- Try new things
I used to hate dabblers. I thought of them as flighty, flibbityjibbets, unable to stick with anything, evidence of a certain lack of character. That was also in the days when I had no time to try something just to see if I might like it, so maybe there was a touch of envy going on. I was fully committed to everything in my life. So uptight that if I started a book, and then found that I didn’t like it, I usually plowed on to the end because I had made a commitment (to the book???) – sometimes I never enjoyed it, sometimes the reward was a surprising reversal found only by seeing it through to the end. The nuns who taught me would have been so proud!
Today I hope I have a “why not” attitude and the freedom to try something and then, set it aside if I don’t like it. Or, the ability to admit that while I may not become a virtuoso maybe the journey of putting myself out there might be enough.
I have a new “why not” that I’m interested in trying. Never having envisioned myself as a painter, lately I find myself intrigued by the question of whether I have any talent in that direction. Interesting coming from a person who stared for some time at the Mona Lisa on a visit to the Louvre, looking for a rush of emotion to overcome me as I took in this icon. When I left, I was convinced that I had no soul. I will say that I was excited that I was seeing the actual Mona Lisa, because, after all, it’s the Mona Lisa. I mean who am I to say “Meh” to her. Centuries of people have found this a magnificent, intriguing painting and I walked away feeling somewhat sorry for the bloke who painted the work on the wall opposite the Mona Lisa with everyone’s back turned to it.
One of my Bald Head Island friends retired a number of years ago. Already a wonderful writer, she turned her attention to painting. And I have to say that whether you’re talking about her florals, or her animals or her human portraits, she does fantastic, beautiful work. Surely, she had been painting all her life. No, she says, she simply picked up a paint brush a few years ago and started taking classes and found this new talent and passion.
George W. Bush also found painting post-presidency in his mid-sixties. No matter what you think of his governing abilities, his skillful portraiture of veterans he sent into battle is getting reasonable painting acclaim for this novice artist who again started rather late in life. As a side note, his painting of these veterans has also resulted in a book and a charity to honor and aid veterans maybe as a kind of atonement. And again, before picking up the brush four years ago, he had no prior painting experience, just the desire and obviously, some very good tutelage.
Hmmmmm. I think I need to add painting to my list of things to try. But in the meantime, it will have to get in line behind (beside?) my study of Italian and the several writing pieces that I’m trying to complete.
Until next time…..