On Tuesday afternoon she arrived in simple jeans, t-shirt and flip flops and I with tired eyes and a drained personality. Little did we’d know that this trip would change us both enormously.
The first order of business after leaving the airport was to fuel ourselves at Whole Foods for lunch before hitting the Pacific Coast Highway for our two nights in Santa Barbara. After with drinks and snacks in tow, it was time to roll the windows down, crank the music and begin out week long chats and laughing as we cruised alongside the ocean for the next couple of hours.
Arriving at the wonderful Hotel Andulucia just before dinner, we had only a few minutes to quickly change and prepare for what was supposed to be a tour of the farmers market with the Chef of 31 West. Truthfully, though, we weren’t in the mood to meet with him for driving, sunshine and too much time apart had us far too giggly for public interaction. Luckily it turned out that the Chef was too busy for us which gave us time for something much more important – Emily’s first trip to Anthropologie.
There I was her personal shopper; picking out clothes upon clothes that had her modeling for hours. I pushed her out of her comfort zone (something she wanted) and showed her that a skirt can be just as relaxed as pants. By the time the store closed, she agreed, carrying her pretty Anthro bag with ease and a new addiction.
After all that work we were ready for our dinner at 31 West. Wine, good food and conversation though truthfully we ended up being tired, wanting to really go back to the room, slip on our robes and watch cable – something that had become a guilty pleasure to both of us since we had both forgone cable for so long. But rest in comfy duvets was what we needed; the day had been long and the next morning we’d be up early for a good cause – a wine tour through the Santa Ynez Valley.
Cloud Climbers Jeep Tours picked us up at 10AM at our hotel. Instantly smitten with our driver, we knew the trip would be fantastic – and it was. We hit four wineries and by the last we couldn’t do more than 2 tasting’s. The sun, the laughter, the open air hit us hard but good. Going up old stage coach roads, singing the theme to the Greatest American Hero (despite the fact that neither of us is American) lead to a wonderful evening. We wouldn’t have wanted the trip to end were it not for the fact that LOST was premiering that night and we couldn’t miss it. In fact, we couldn’t stop talking about it for hours after.
The next morning we went to a little farmers market, picked up some Girlfriends Booty and went to the beach for a breakfast picnic where we promptly realised we did not like booty.
Driving back to LA along the coast we saw beautiful beaches filled with driftwood in which people had made make-shift shelters. We had to play, and did. Jumping in the waves, hiding under forts, writing messages in the sand. We felt five, which was good because we were really far from it.
Emily’s not a fancy girl but I wanted her to have just a little of it. So we headed to one of my favourite LA hangouts – the Beverly Hills Hotel Fountain restaurant. It was an experience, as always. To see her reaction to people greeting us and treating us well was funny and giving her the best veggie burger on the planet was the best. When Rene Russo walked in she couldn’t believe it – she had just finished watching the Thomas Crowne affair and kept saying “I just saw her totally naked!”
With full bellies it was time to head to The Getty Museum. For $7 the two of us had top views of LA and excellent art. As an art graduate and amazing artist, it was a real experience to see all of it with her. It was even more of an experience to watch her draw there and then to pose her like a model (which she so could be).
After several hours we headed back to my place in Santa Monica, walking the promenade where she shopped even more (which surprised me) and bought the amazing “Holy Moly” shirt from Fossil. Then it was time for dinner and more talking before an early bedtime because the next day was the biggest day – Disneyland.
Put two girlfriends together in Disneyland who love rides and it gets dangerous. I don’t know what we loved more – all the coasters or the fact that twenty-year old guys kept checking us out and hitting on us. I must confess that we loved it. Some things never change.
On one of the coasters there was an older prissy couple in front. Being the mature girl I made the most beautiful and amazing vomiting noise ever. Without missing a beat Emily exclaimed, “Oh no! It’s everywhere!” The best part? They were video’ing the whole thing.
So much screaming, laughing, talking that by the time we left at midnight my voice was gone completely. That, however, did not stop us from opening up the Disney Karaoke CD, playing it and singing along as we drove home that night. While other cars shook with bass to the latest, we were singing The Bare Necessities.
Saturday morning I took her to my favourite cafe for amazing food and my favourite Chai Latte. Then it was a drive to Beverly Hills, the Grove and then to Elixir to relax in the back while getting some drinks to help us recover. When we’d had enough we drove up to The Ritz Carlton in Pasadena where we had dinner reservations.
At first, Emily was hesitant; she hadn’t ever stayed in a hotel like the Ritz or dined somewhere like The Dining Room. She was afraid she didn’t look right or know how to act. I told her that she didn’t have to act any way; there’s no game face to put on and no pretending to do. Borrowing my skirt and top she fretted because she didn’t have shoes – just her flip flops. I told her that was fine, besides, she’d be sitting down. The experience was more important than the shoes. She was worried though as we walked into the restaurant. However, we were greeted wonderfully and had an extraordinary time. In fact, we ended up seeing several girls entering – all with flip flops.
The Dining Room was an amazing, amazing experience – neither of us had ever had anything like it. Jared, whose only job was to order wines and do pairings, started us off with champagne. Then Chef came out because I have an allergy to Gluten and he was incredibly friendly and nice and knew what to do. Choosing the 5 course dinner Jared paired wines for every course and I am here to tell you it makes a difference.
After each dish was served we gushed about the food and wine. Three hours and $400 later were were quite content and even felt a little like rock stars (who are those girls that Chef keeps talking to?).
Feeling good we went next door to the bar where R&B was playing. We boogeyed it up and again got hit on by several men far younger than us. “They must think it’s cool to hit on 30 year old women” she said. “I don’t think they think we’re 30” I replied.
We headed up to our room – larger than my flat – with two rooms, two balconies, and two bathrooms. We hit the bed and promptly fell to sleep, which was good. Our massages were at 8AM the next morning.
Because we were on the private Club Level at the Ritz, we were able to have free food and drinks literally all day. So at 7:30 we went to the club and had an amazing breakfast and mimosas before we went to the spa. For eighty minutes we were beaten by women but at least we had no knots by the time we dipped ourselves in the hot tub after. Lunch followed to give us energy to hit Old Town Pasadena where, being girls who love 50’s music, we could not help but sing Little Old Lady from Pasadena, over and over.
Later that night we went back to the room where somehow we got sucked into watching two hours of tv which consisted of two shows about people over 500LBS. But there was nothing better than watching it on an amazing bed, with a girlfriend, who would tell you when you could open your eyes and when to close them during the surgery scenes. God bless her.
After we headed back to the club where we had dinner and Baileys. Oh Baileys. Several hours later we went back to our room where, as a surprise to her, I had put all our skits and tapes onto a DVD. For the next 3 hours we watched ourselves from ages 17-21. So much history. It just really hit us that night.
To go away with a girlfriend is to remind you of yourself and that’s what happened on this trip. We each bring out the best of each other and remind each other of who to be. I encouraged her to do her art and she encouraged me to keep moving forward. There was never an awkward moment, no complaining, to trying – nothing. It was a week of ease, of fun, of beautiful, funny, heartfelt moments.
I adore this girl with all my heart and when she left and did her big kiss goodbye I cried. Tears didn’t stop coming out until I got home a half-hour later. I missed her already. But what was interesting to me is that we both said goodbye a little bit changed; she left in a new skirt, top and shoes and was using the word “fancy” and I was relaxed and far more talkative despite having no voice for the past three days.
Oh this trip was good. It was as though we were 18 all over again, just free to do as we pleased, literally laughing all the time, dancing like the morning would never come and telling jokes that only we’d find funny (and we did). We lived each moment fully without effort. Without analysing it, blogging about it, using self-help words or wondering how it fit into the grand scheme of things. Just lived life simply, easily. How it should be.
We agreed to take these trips once a year because it reminded us of all the traits about ourselves we loved then and shouldn’t hide now. And I’m so freaking thankful for that reminder.