The Lunch Club Revisited

So my three best girlfriends from junior high school came for a visit.

As I awaited their arrival, with fresh flower leis, I started tearing up about how much it meant to me that we were going to have a vacation together for the first time in almost 40 years. 

Although you don’t need much clothing to come to Hawaii for just five days, these women don’t travel lightly. Each one of them came with a very heavy suitcase packed to the brim with a Just-In-Case-I-Might-Need-This-Item. These are girls after my own heart.

After we carefully piled their luggage into the back of my small SUV, we headed straight to the grocery store. Of course, in all the excitement of seeing each other, and proudly packing the unwieldy luggage into the trunk, I forgot that my grocery bags were in a compartment underneath all that luggage. So we had the pleasure of unpacking those heavy bags one extra time (in 90-degree heat) before heading into the store.  

We agreed that we wouldn’t be doing much cooking. After all, we were on vacation! But, we still needed to stock up on breakfast items and snacks for the guest house. It turns out there is no better way to get reacquainted with your childhood friends than grocery shopping with them. They debated over which cheeses they should buy and how much? Who drinks coffee? Who drinks tea? Macadamia nuts or almonds? Both. One has a gluten allergy. One doesn’t eat tomatoes. The cart was quickly filled with eggs, butter, bacon (these girls know how to party), bagels, cream cheese, cheese, crackers, hummus, guacamole, veggies, fruit, ice cream, and dark chocolate. Beer or Wine? Turns out they prefer hard alcohol. Two are vodka drinkers. The other one likes tequila.

For the next five days, we ate every meal together, and stayed up as late as we could talking and playing Cards Against Humanity. If you haven’t played (I was a newbie), it’s a little bit like adult Mad Libs. It’s fun, silly, and totally inappropriate. It makes you laugh. Whether you are drinking or not. It also makes you feel like you are 14 years old again… which was kind of the theme of the week.

We did a little bit of everything. 

We took long walks in my neighborhood. We fed carrots to the goats and horses up the street. 

We went to the beach. They snorkeled in hopes of seeing giant sea turtles. I am not a snorkeler, but I happily sat on the shore and read a book. 

We took a walk on the ancient lava fields, along the coast, where we stumbled across a Monk Seal who had just given birth to a pup a few days earlier. We were so mesmerized by this that we lost track of time, so it got too dark to do a second snorkeling adventure.

But on the way home, we had a Steven Tyler celebrity-sighting right outside his house. He happens to be one of my girlfriend’s all-time favorite rock and roll stars, so this was a great bonus for her.

We went to my favorite yoga class twice… and they loved it too.

We ate fish tacos and shared french fries… because they don’t count when you share them. 

We drank cocktails with fresh squeezed juices from my orange, lime and guava trees. 

We went shopping at the outlet stores.

We shared mini-pie tarts at this darling little pie shop. The Lilikoi (passionfruit) pie was the favorite. Although, the Key Lime was pretty outstanding too. One of my girlfriends is on a mission to replicate that Lilikoi pie for her Thanksgiving bake-off with her in-laws. Apparently, it is very competitive. I hope she wins and puts her sister-in-law to shame.

We talked about our children. They all seem to be thriving and independent… which makes us all exhale a little bit.

We talked about our relationships -- past and present.

We talked about our careers. One of us is winding hers down. One is starting hers for the first time. The other is enjoying her work and might be named Employee of the Year! I am envious of the one winding down her career. And yet, I cannot seem to do that myself. I am more driven than ever to find my “true calling.” Which, in turn, makes me equally envious of the one starting her new career. As for one who might be named Employee of the Year, that is just awesome. Since I run my own production company, and am currently the only employee, I could technically name myself Employee of the Year. But I don’t think I deserve it this year. Maybe next year. 

Being with these three women was not like some kind of high school (or junior high) reunion. I don’t like reunions. High school reunions always feel kind of forced and formal. You get about the same information that you do on Facebook… just headlines. No real deep connection.

This was different. Being with these three women was like being with family. While I may not snorkel and they don’t play tennis, we are totally in sync with just about everything else. We have similar feelings about love, life, and spirituality. We are all highly-productive, multi-tasking, mothers, wives/ex-wives, cooks, neat freaks, business women, daughters and sisters. We are girls with the same DNA... without even being related.

It is an indescribable feeling to have reconnected to people that you have known since you were little. In spite of having only gathered as a group three times in 40 years,  there was no awkwardness. There was no communication gap. We are all 50-something women now, and we share a bond that is undeniable.

I like to think that we haven’t changed that much. Okay, maybe we have a few more wrinkles and different hairstyles, but we are essentially still 14-year-old girls at heart. We still love books, music, television and movies. We still love talking and sharing. We still love discovering new ideas, recipes, diets and coping mechanisms. Lots of coping mechanisms.

The five days were a blink. In one moment, I was picking them up at the airport. Then a moment later, I was dropping them off again. The only proof that time had passed were the wilted flower leis and the significant dent we made in the groceries… especially the dark chocolate and the bacon.

I felt an ache when they left… as if part of me was leaving too. That’s because my “sisters” were leaving and we were not done having fun.

But the morning that they were packing up, they were discussing the next trip. So we might make this an annual tradition.

Maybe by then, I will be up for Employee of the Year too. Either way, I cannot wait to do it again.