Act #141: Don't let your differences make you lose sight of the things you have in common.
As an only child, I was fortunate enough in college, to meet and form a significant bond with five women that has transcended mere friendship - they are more like my sisters. Over the last 18 years, we have been through 3 divorces, 8 marriages, and 8 children. We've been there for each other through the grief of losing (and almost losing) parents, husbands coming out, husbands cheating, infertilities, miscarriages, law school, Ph.D's, and unemployment. When we graduated, we made a pact that we would take a trip together every year, and that we would never bring our husbands. We've kept that promise, and this weekend, we are headed to Santa Rosa Island in Florida.
I usually thrive in my element when we take urban vacations - Atlanta, Boston, Washington, DC, and I can't get enough of our mountain trips - we've gone to Asheville, NC a few times. But it is the beach trips that leave me feeling a bit, well for lack of better words, a fish out of water. Now don't get me wrong I LOVE the vastness of the ocean and how tiny and vulnerable I feel when I watch the waves crash into the shore. I love waking up before the rest of the world, steamy cup of coffee in hand, for a glimpse of the sun rising above the horizon. I love burying my feet in the sand and breathing in the salty air around me. I love how my body and senses automatically go into vacation mode, making the days longer, movement slower, and thoughtful reflection possible.
I don't love spending hours laying out at the beach. Oh, I've tried to fit in through the years, and I've sat in the sun until my already dark skin got at least 3 shades darker (yes, brown people do tan). So I should mention that I'm the only brown girl in this bunch of aging college sisters. And I know that there are brown people throughout the world who do enjoy laying out and getting a tan......but I would not be one of them. Besides the fact that I find this leisurely activity painstakingly uneventful, I also don't enjoy dripping in perspiration under a blaring, unforgiving sun, and being reminded that 1.) I'm not as well-endowed as my Caucasian girlfriends and can't pull off the string-bikini top quite as well; 2.) Damn it, instead of waking up to write this blog every day for the past six months, I should've gotten myself to the gym; and 3.) Am I the only one here slathered in 3 different kinds of 200 SPF sunscreen, trying to ward off skin cancer?
But this weekend, I will find the biggest, brightest beach umbrella ever. And I will lay alongside my white sisters on the pristine white, sandy ocean, and we will talk about our kids, our marriages, our jobs and how we are still figuring out how not to lose the joy we find in them, while trying to fit them all into a 24-hour day without always feeling guilty and overwhelmed. We will support one of us who lost her father a few weeks ago. We will reminisce about our care-free college days when we dreamed about how our lives might turn out. When we dared to imagine that we might all still be friends two decades later, sipping strawberry daiquiris on a beautiful beach somewhere far, far away. And I will not want to miss a second of that goodness. Because with each trip and each passing year, I have come to the undeniable realization that as women, as sisters, there is so much more that connects us, than the way our different skin tones tan...in the hot, blaring, unforgiving sun.