it started with an email. a suggestion thrown out by E to me and four of our mutual girlfriends from college. “what if we did a destination girls’ trip?” it read. the “reply alls” began pouring in almost immediately. clearly, we were all in need of a little getaway. we threw out cities in which we could convene. palm springs? charlottesville? phoenix? austin? yes, that was it. austin. a city that was not only relatively central for all of us, but whose live music-filled bars and overall hipster vibe would be perfect for a group of twenty/thirty-somethings celebrating a college reunion.
once the locale had been decided upon, we attempted to solidify a date for said reunion. somehow the google calendar gods found favor on the weekend of august 15th-17th. in a matter of moments, E had already booked our hotel, and slowly over the course of the coming weeks, our air travel followed suit (respectively of course, thanks daddio for the miles!). as the dates approached (quicker than anticipated, how fast has this year flown?), E and i reached out to our fellow austinians for food, drink, and activity recommendations. the consensus was that the weekend should at least include (but not be limited to) some form of bbq, a visit to 6th street, and live music. E booked us a reservation for lambert’s, a fancier bbq joint off 2nd street, for saturday evening, and i was put in charge of making blow out appointments to ensure that we’d have big texas hair for said night out. divide and conquer. we could rule the world with our efficiency.
and then i blinked and it was time to pack up my cowboy boots, bathing suit, and teasing comb and head out east to the great state of texas. turns out i wasn’t the only one with dreams of heading to austin for the weekend. i sat amongst a full flight of east-bound travelers, making friends (natch) with the lady in the row in front of me after i noticed that she was about to dive into the husband’s secret, a book, i assured her was an excellent choice (having recently read it myself), and a book, she later informed me was the next installment in her ladies book club. speaking of reading, before the wheels touched down on the tarmack austin-bergstrom international, i finally finished up this is where i leave you (great playful read, mostly for the interpersonal relationships amongst the foxman siblings). so tina, jason, and jane, i’m ready for september 19th.
i said so long to scarlett (my new bff) and hello to the austin heat/humidity as i exited the double doors of the airport and onto the arrivals platform, anxiously awaiting my caravan of college gals en route to retrieve me. they arrived soon thereafter and after a few squeals and bear hugs, i threw my bag in the trunk and we hit the road for our evening’s destination –the oasis -playfully known as “the sunset capital,” for some tex mex and yes, an incredible sunset over lake travis.
following a leisurely dinner, we headed back to the hotel (hilton on 4th street) for an early night of pajamas and pillow talk. having traveled from various corners of the country and wiped already from the unbearable texas heat (or maybe that was just me), an air conditioned hotel room and syndicated episodes of friends seemed like the perfect way to end our first night together.
the next morning, while E went to a spin class, C and i started our morning with starbucks and a long-overdue two-hour catch-up session on life, and love, and kids (her not me), and everything in between. moments like those were exactly what i had hoped to find over the course of our girls’ trip. my heart was full as we traveled back up to the room to stir the other girls who were still sound asleep.
after rounding up the troops and changing into our bathing suits and cover-ups, the fab five (as opposed to this fab five), braved the heat on a jaunt to brunch. we piled into a booth at second bar + kitchen (per H’s recommendation) and ordered a mismatch of entrees to satisfy our grumbling tummies (glad the waiter notified me that my selection -the grilled pineapple + berry salad with basil mint syrup, whipped yogurt & house granola was a very small portion, so i ordered a side of scrambled eggs to accompany). full and happy, we inquired with the staff of what to do to fill the remaining hours of our afternoon -before our blow dry appointments, of course. they suggested barton springs, a pool fed by natural hot springs located only a few miles away. with the temperatures well into the upper 90’s, we figured it was the perfect way to a) do something “local” and b) beat the blasted heat. apparently, we weren’t the only ones with the same brilliant plan. we had to wait in a queue that rivaled space mountain at disneyland (without the fast pass), but luckily we reached the front entrance before any of us (again, or just me) fainted from the heat.
i watched our valuables while the other girls dove (or more so slithered) into the shockingly chilly water. i was more than content to stay on (relatively) dry land and read the vacationers on my nook, though i did let my legs dangle off the side and into the cool pool.
we stayed for about an hour or so before packing up and driving back to the hotel. once back, we took turns taking showers in anticipation for our date with the hair salon. when we had looked up the address to blo, and in seeing it was on 5th street (our hotel was on 4th), we were excited to think we could save ourselves the extra gas and simply hoof it to the location.
man we were so very wrong. apparently 4th and 5th are miles apart. as in 4.5, to be exact, which meant about a half-hour walk. now, in 75-degree heat, that might have been a great way to get a little added cardio in before our big bbq dinner. but in 100-degree heat, it was the worst idea ever. so much for showering, i had a steady stream of sweat dripping down my back as E finally came and rescued the rest of us in the rental car. arriving just a tad bit tardy for our 4:30 p.m. appointments, the staff did not look amused but they got to work when we all filed through the doors. in a matter of minutes it seemed (they weren’t messing around, some girls had two people working on them at a time!), our tresses were transformed. while others picked the “pillow talk” or “hollywood glam” (the salon offers a “menu” of styles to choose from), i elected for the “shawna” -a customized style incorporating loose ringlets and the biggest bridget-bardot-you-must-be-from-texas-sized teased “bump” a teasing comb could muster. my lady took my dream and brought it to fruition.
we headed back to the room to change into our “going out” ensembles. i had brought my brand new white dress from madewell to pair with my trusty steve madden cowboy boots. once dressed, make-uped, and for me at least, after a second swipe of deodorant (because you can never be too safe) we headed out for the night. but first, let us take a selfie.
whenever i hear “make a funny face!” this is my go-to pose. because who needs to be attractive in photos that are posted on all forms of social media anyway. pshh.
with our dinner reservations not until 8 p.m., we ducked into annie’s cafe & bar on congress for some drinks and appetizers. i snuck glances at the score of the patriots/eagles game as we chatted and stuffed ourselves of imported cheeses and truffle fries #yolo. before our hair inevitably began to frizz in the austin humidity, we took a few photos to document how good we all looked. because we were lookin’ good, y’all.
it was only a short walk from annie’s to lambert’s where we finally got a taste of texas bbq. while most of the girls ordered the pulled pork and various traditional southern sides (mac & cheese, fried okra, collared greens), i opted for the half-chicken and, duh, brussels sprouts. if we’re being completely honest (and i always try to be), the sprouts were sub-par. my roasted variety would put them to shame, but they were good enough to satisfy my hunger pains.
after dinner, we walked back toward 6th street so as to not leave austin before experiencing its, um, charm. but with my back completely drenched and
my will to live patience running thin, i politely requested that perhaps we find an air-conditioned establishment to have dessert first. enter the beautiful and historic driskill hotel. we stopped in for a night cap, something chocolaty, and to towel off my back. if you think i’m lying about how my body refused to refrain from perspiring, even despite being in an air-conditioned room. please take note of the beads of sweat on my forehead:
with my shuttle taking me to the airport arriving early in the morning, i volunteered for party pooper and politely bowed out of any more 6th street shenanigans. lucky for me, C joined me en route back to the hotel while the other girls stayed out to savor the last moments of austin’s nightlife. ironically, C and i ended up staying up talking for another two hours past our self-prescribed bedtimes, so late that we were still up when the girls arrived back at the room well past midnight. we said our goodnights and for me, our goodbyes and eventually drifted off to dreamland.
my alarm woke me up the next morning and i did my best to tip toe around my fellow sleepers as i packed up my suitcase and got ready for my flight home. the super shuttle picked me up at 8 a.m., giving me plenty of time to relax at the airport prior to my 9:45 a.m. flight. i grabbed a coffee and a cliff bar and settled in at gate 11, opening my nook to my “dog-eared” page halfway through the vacationers. it was then that i began to watch the numbers on the screen mounted just below the “11” sign slowly increase in increments of ten. our 9:45 a.m. departure suddenly became 10:10, then 10:20, 10:30 and so on and so on. apparently our flight was stuck in dallas, marooned on the runway in the midst of a nasty thunderstorm. what are you gonna do, i thought. i kept one eye on the monitor as i turned the other back to my book.
the numbers continued to increase until finally settling into an 11:35 a.m. estimated departure time. i found a mutual lamenting partner in brooke, a mom of two occupying the seat directly across from me in the waiting area. we began chatting to pass the time, she told me about how she was headed home to san diego after dropping off her littles at grandma’s house in austin, and i recounted the tales of my girls weekend with some college bests in the southern city. and almost simultaneously to my explanation did three of the four said girlfriends appear in the food court just a few feet away. i had been delayed for so long, the girls on the noon flights had now arrived to the airport.
startled, by happy to see me, i joined the girls at their table where they were finishing up brunch. despite the fact that i was more than ready to return home, the silver lining of my flight delay was the opportunity to have a few more minutes of girl time with C, C, & E. and then the sweet voice of the southwest attendant came over the loudspeaker notifying flight 403 passengers that it was, at long last, time to line up for boarding. glory hallelujah. i gave each girl one final squeeze before filing into the A boarding group at spot 57.
i boarded and quickly found an aisle seat near the front of the plane. and there i remained, enthralled in the final chapters of the vacationers (which i ultimately finished and loved. it’s the perfect beach read but be careful, it will definitely make you get the travel itch for spain) for the next two and a half hours. when we finally saw the san diego skyline out our western windows, i couldn’t help but breathe a sigh of satisfaction -for a weekend well spent with some amazing women in (an albeit ridiculously hot) a fun locale, but also for the fact that after one of my busiest summers ever, i was finally home. home for the next two months. to soak up time with S and this life i’m kind of obsessed with these days.
so thank you, texas for treating us so well. for being the place where five girlfriends could come together for a good old-fashioned reunion, and for providing some delicious grub and memorable experiences, too. despite your debilitating heat (a regular broken record over here), you gave us a weekend for the books.
C, C, R & E -i loved every minute of our time together. #cleareyesfullhearts
and of course, texas forever.