An overdue girls’ weekend is like a sip of magic potion. A whipped cream-covered sundae on a hot day. A meditation of sorts; each deep breath in rewarded with a belly laugh out. It allows you to stop thinking of the stressors that consume your days and get lost in the gossip, the antics, the pure light that is true friendship.
I’ve just had a ridiculously fun girls’ weekend in Stowe, Vermont that felt like a refresh for the soul.
This is where I’ll tell you up front that you’re not going to find a travel post with tidbits about Stowe, which happened to be charming and beautiful. While we indeed did stay there, the trip wasn’t about travel, nor exploration. It was about four friends finding time to make it work.
Our plans centered around Floatchella, an annual event hosted by a friend and coworker that entails floating down a river all day, barbequing and sitting ‘round the fire all evening. Sounds dope right? Rachel and I went a couple years ago and have since decided that we should go back every year. We brought Sue and Leslie into the loop this time to make a long weekend girls’ getaway out of it.
Floatchella was a blast, even more fun than the first year we attended. More than twenty people showed up, adults and kiddos, with floats of all kinds in tow. There were deluxe two-person rafts with built-in coolers and cup holders (à la Sue and Les), ridiculous ones like my big red gummy bear and Rachel’s glitter rainbow bomb, your basic every day inner-tube, and everything in between. Brett, the host, rides in a canoe, collecting trash, dispensing drinks, playing music, and keeping track of all the floaters. He’s had to take special care twice now to make sure that some wild tag-along flight attendants didn’t float off into oblivion. We’re a handful, but he loves having us.
One of the coolest parts of Floatchella this year was that many of the regulars (it’s an annual tradition, you know) remembered Rachel and I from two years prior. Making the drive up to Vermont that first time, we wondered with anticipation which work people might be in attendance. Brett is a co-worker of ours, one of the nicest pilots I know, and so we assumed this was an airline-centered party. Would we know anyone? We pondered aloud and hoped there would be no awkward interactions. To our surprise and delight Rachel and I were the only airline people cool enough to have received an invite and made the trek there. It was just the two of us and a whole gaggle of Vermonters. Brett’s real friends in his real life, outside of the biz. And despite showing up with silly floats, drinking a bit more than the others, and being strangers in a group of friends and close acquaintances, we were welcomed warmly and whole-heartedly. It was such a nice feeling getting to slip into the frays of this awesome crew and be treated like one of the family. And the fact that we made an impression enough to last two whole years was so deeply flattering it made me warm in the emotional part of my insides I like to pretend doesn’t exist.
The newbies we brought into the circle this year—Sue and Leslie—fit in just as well as we did and had enough laughs out on that river to want to keep coming back for more future Floatchellas.
We drank, we floated, we swam, we enjoyed the beauty of the scenery of a perfect sunny day on the river. We shared off-color conversations with Vermonters we’d met only once, grilled Brett (maybe a bit too much) on his dating life, and worked out alllllllll the abdominal muscles laughing at Sue’s Casper-like attempt at applying sunscreen, Rachel’s impressive water aerobatics, and Leslie’s all out splash WAR with a six year old. We got cozy by the fire, ate snacks, drank more and played yard games, and I somehow got each person there to open up and tell me and the group a very, very personal story.
We were the last guests standing at Floatchella 2019—just as Rachel and I had been in 2017. And when we packed up our gear to head back to the Airbnb, a Salt-n-Pepa dance sesh in the car, a close call with a maybe murdery situation, and an incident involving pee where it shouldn’t be proved that long after the party ends, my friends are still the coolest, craziest, funniest, wildest women alive.
These three, with whom I spent four days in Vermont, are some of my nearest and dearest. All flight attendants, we met while doing a special assignment at work. Though at first glance we might seem an unlikely band, if you hung out with the four of us for more than ten minutes, you’d see the dynamics of something truly special —perhaps a bit outrageous—before your eyes. Coming to life. We’re all different ages. Two of us are married with kids and two of us aren’t even close to there yet. A couple of us come from very religious backgrounds, of different denominations. I was never christened or baptized and have attended church events only for weddings or funerals.
One of the best things about my job (And I know I use that line a lot, but it’s totally warranted.) is getting to work with so many different people. To step outside of the comfort zone of age and proximity and who you’d typically expect to be friends with. It opens you up: perspectives gained, new ways of thinking, the stretching of your own understanding of the world. It has been profoundly enriching for me, and I consider it one of the top benefits of my job. (On par with free travel, even!)
I work with people from all over the world. Spread out all over the country. They speak different languages. They have previous careers, own businesses, side hustle like nobody’s business. They’re lawyers and nurses and service members and musicians. They’re gay and straight and bi and trans and cis and queer and every other label that exists. They’re conservative and liberal, they’re homebodies and they are par-ty animals. And somehow, in this wacky blended bunch, you wind up meeting people that just stick with you; the bond over wild layovers and rolling delays and critique of company policy and just happening to be there at the right moment for someone’s emotional breaking point, solidifying the foundation into cement.
Stowe was lovely; the rolling green mountains, the quaint homes dotting large plots of land with long, curving drives and an adorable downtown area. We didn’t hit many of the “best things to do” in Stowe. No hiking, no biking, no skiing, no swimming holes. It triggered my FOMO, skipping these hyped outdoor activities, but you know what? It turned out just fine. And better than that. We did eat blocks and blocks of cheese at the Cabot store, took a tour of the Ben & Jerry’s factory, and checked out the Von Trapp Lodge (made complete by Sound-of-Music-style twirling in the grass). To be honest, what we did for most of our time in Stowe was hang in our Airbnb. We played card games. We hunted for murderers. We peed our pants (some of us literally) laughing.
I forget sometimes how much I need friends. Aquarius to the core and marching to the beat of my own drum, I give in to my whimsical, loner instincts and fall off the wagon. I don’t call or text enough. I don’t set time aside. I take for granted that we’ll still be friends even if we never see each other. But this weekend, like every one spent with these women, was a fabulous, serious, honest reminder that the time with your friends—in person—is valuable, necessary, soul-enriching, worthwhile.