The Quietest Place on Earth

I am not a girls’ trip girl. For most of my life, I wasn’t even a girl’s girl. Girls? Oh, just loads of drama and cattiness that I mostly didn’t understand. No, thank you. I preferred to fill the role of she’s like a little sister in friend groups that were typically male. 

It really wasn’t until my thirties that the value of having women in my life really began to reveal itself. It wasn’t until I became a wife and a mother that that value increased tenfold. Still, girls’ trips? I continued to pass. I’d much rather spend weekends at home enjoying the safety of my couch than long weekends that I still perceived as filled with spring break-style debauchery. 

My friend group morphed over the last decade with a move to a new state with a new family gained via a new marriage. With all those “new” items came a new group of women who were mostly a wonder to me. They were so put together! So sure of themselves! So much experience and knowledge and intuition in all the areas in which I had none. It took years for me to brave joining them for lunch and then eventually for drinks and then those girls’ trips. 

Well. Almost. Girls’ trips?!? Still dodged, mostly by exiting prior to the pajama part of the party.

Last year was my first foray into an overnighter with “just us girls.” Yes, of course, I’d done sleepovers or an occasional slumber party – way back when – each attempt reminding me that I just wasn’t a huge fan. Even when traveling with my gymnastics team or on collegiate beach weeks or trips for work, there was always an extra serving of anxiety packed in my suitcase. 

I have preferred the safety of home, always. 

I can count my girls’ trips on one hand, no need for most of my fingers. Why would I answer everyday stress by willingly running away from my comfort zone?

When a longtime friend suggested a Disney Princess Marathon getaway I responded with my usual, “Oh, yes, of course!!!” Um, what? Why? Enthusiasm is often projected when I am positive that, when push comes to shove, plans will be canceled. I was confident if I didn’t bail, she would, having never gone on a trip solo, leaving her child left at home. Still, the trip was booked for late February.

Fast forward to the marathon sign-up day. This was my responsibility. I was shocked to find all events sold out before I could even retrieve my password reminder. Mind you, we never had intentions of the full marathon, just the 5K or yoga events. Still, trip dodged! Except not. “It’s okay, we’ll go anyway!” my friend said. Wait now, what?!?

February arrived with a hospital stay for my husband, surgery for me, a layoff for me, surgery for my mother-in-law, and a hospital stay for my dad … I can hardly even remember the moment that we switched our girls’ weekend from tromping the parks to a quieter cruise. My friend was wise enough to hear the call of clear waters and floats. “Yes, Disney Cruises are incredibly relaxing,” she promised, “and we’ll stick strictly to the Adults Only sections.

I do love a cruise but typically only after the ship is at sea and the chance to flee is removed. Before then I tend to pace, both physically and mentally, while wondering if I should just jump off while still at the port and swim home to safety. My friend was pacing right along with me as our brave plans reached reality. We were going solo. She missed her child like I missed my couch (hey, I never claimed to be a perfect parent).

Were there tears on embarkation day? Yes, a few. More tears, however, on debarkation. This break was what we needed, yes, but it also gave us both a glimpse into our ability to cleanse our emotional well-being. 

And I don’t mean counting to ten or grabbing a journal or taking a walk or even reserving a room on a cruise ship. 

I mean doing something scary and new and brave.

I mean sneaking away from a comfort zone to see if, maybe, there is something even more comforting outside of it. 

No, I hear it. Poor me. I had to go on a cruise to mentally recharge (although in fairness, it was a Disney cruise with 7142 children dressed as princesses or pirates). This isn’t a woe-is-me tale. This is an it-will-be-okay tale. A tale of fully checking out in order to see if I might be able to check back in. 

A tale of how I closed my eyes and jumped in feet first, fears be damned.

Did I have to jump into the clear waters of the Carribean? Maybe not. 

But I sure won’t tell my family that. 

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