Travel

The Women Gathered

WOODSTOCK, NY * MAY 2014 * SONY NEX-7 * LIGHTROOM 5

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Oh, Woodstock. You unexpected love...

It's been my experience that tradition carries the most meaning when those participating make it their own. So when one of my best friends, Teenie (Christine), told me that her sister Liz was organizing a bachelorette weekend to celebrate Teenie and her approaching wedding, I was excited. I knew there would be no penis-shaped candy, no hot-pink bachelorette sashes, no fake veils, no stripper grinding his junk in my lap. If that's your thing, go for it. But it ain't mine, and it'd be hard for me to authentically show up at a bachelorette gathering if it meant mustering enthusiasm for gummy penises and banana slings.

Fortunately the weekend was magical and in all the ways I imagined it would be: lots of long conversations and lazy meals, walks outside in a stunning environment, honest sharing of experiences, quiet, laughter, ridiculousness. Sadly, I have few photos of the magic and the ones I do have aren't up to my usual standards as unbeknownst to me my camera was stuck on a faulty setting; here's the best of what I got.

Liz found a stunning cabin in the Catskills near Woodstock, NY. On Friday, I was the first to arrive. I had the place to myself as the others wouldn't arrive until Saturday.

I don't know that I can fully describe the deliciousness of sitting in the quiet and how very deeply I needed this silence. I struggle immensely to still my mind to the present moment. I am easily overwhelmed by planning and organizing. The details of my life are constantly running in my head like a news ticker on the bottom of the TV screen...but three times as fast. Traveling as much as I do doesn't help and living in the city just throws gasoline on the problem.

An evening of cloudy, mountainous solitude was an incredible gift.

I slept soundly that night.

On Saturday morning the rest of the group arrived. The clouds still hung low, draping heavily over the mountains. We spent hours talking and went for a walk at dusk.

How quickly I fell in love with this place.

And how quickly I fell in love with these women.

one of the few pictures I'm in and Lizzy and Teenie had their eyes shut. I still love it.

The sun came out the next day and the space completely transformed.

Morning yoga! Megs (on the left) and a giggly Teenie (on the right).

Bachelorette in relaxation mode.

A beauty, when blurry and in focus

What I loved most about this weekend was the opportunity to meet some of the most precious people in Teenie's life, and to come to know a little bit about how they have shaped each other. Marianne, Teenie's cousin (more like a sister), gave a toast at dinner that had most of us in tears. She captured the unique joy, humor, inspiration, and comfort, she finds in her relationship with Teenie. Those of us who know Teenie well can resonate with that in our own way. She has a special way of bringing a childlike (read: authentic, uninhibited, free, and silly) excitement about the world to her relationships and experiences and she helps those around her to open their own childlike wonder. She is always in touch with an emotional intuitiveness and brings a critical depth to analyzes and understanding the complexity of things. One of her favorite games is high-low-high, a game that reflects all of this. In the game, you share a high from some experience, a low, and then another high.

My high-low-high from Teenie's bachelorette weekend...

High: finally meeting members of Teenie's family in a gorgeous place.

Low: knowing this time would last only a few short days and never be recreated.

High: knowing that Teenie felt loved, celebrated, supported, and surrounded so completely by a group of women who will ever be present to hold her in whatever way she needs; knowing that this very special woman in my life is always home in the shelter of these women. There's something incredibly heart-warming about knowing the ones you love and care for are being looked out for by others.

Bonus high: I got to spoon with Christina that weekend - our college friend who is quite pregnant. If you've never spooned with a very pregnant loved one in your life, I recommend you do so. It's as magical as high-fiving a unicorn.