Girls Gone 50


IMG_4462I snore like a freight train. Who wants to sleep with me?

Hey, I get up to pee 3 times a night.

Well, I fart, so no one will want to sleep with me.

No pretense here.

Just a few details discussed in a series of emails between 3 high school girlfriends and me as we planned a 50th birthday weekend last February.

We would spend two days in Napa and two days in San Francisco. Two of us were 50, and two of us would soon be 50.  Two prefer a well-planned, make the most of our time kind of itinerary, and two lean towards a  stumble upon serendipity travel philosophy. Two offered to be the designated driver, and two…did not.

All four of us were wearing happy faces and party shoes when we gathered at our girlfriend Jan’s San Francisco home. After our first afternoon together, her 16-year-old son Trevor said, “Mom, your friends are just so…..loud.” Girlfriends spend no time getting reacquainted. We hit the ground running. Figuratively, of course, because one bad hip and an arthritic foot prevented us from literally running.

We sorted out our sleeping arrangements based on our nighttime habits. The next morning, one of us divulged that her roommate may have sleep apnea. By the second morning she had recorded the apnea episodes on her phone. We listened to the recordings in the car and screamed with laughter. True girlfriends lovingly harass you all the way to a future night’s stay  in a sleep clinic…

A great sport to send me the photo AND let me use it.

A great sport to send me the photo AND let me use it.

We had fancy pants accommodations in a private cottage at a Napa resort. We enjoyed great wine &  food. We saw the sights in the city. We shopped, we gabbed and we laughed til our abs hurt.

Jen has a ridiculous talent. Mention any word or phrase during conversation and she will  break out in a song with lyrics that match whatever has just been said.  It annoys her college-aged children.  It amuses 50-year-old girlfriends.

We met four adorable 20-somethings from Boston at the first winery we visited. Three sisters and a good-natured boyfriend. They thought it was wicked cool that ladies were doing wine country to celebrate turning 50. Ladies?  We are GIRLfriends. Two nights later, we walked into an Irish bar in San Francisco to find those Bostonians kneeling on barstools, waving wildly and screaming over the crowd,  “It’s our ladies!” Again, with the Ladies? Better than old ladies, I guess.

We saw a great band and made friends with the sharp dressed frontman. 

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Full disclosure:  We left right after this photo was taken because the place was “stinky” (translation: it smelled like….a bar)

Despite our differences, we had only one disagreement. After our final dinner, the ole “tip vs. don’t tip on the tax” debate erupted. Our server politely returned the check twice.  We didn’t have enough to cover the bill…before tip. Thirty years ago, math with absolute numbers could be difficult. At 50, math with Absolut vodka is nearly impossible.

It was a footloose weekend, it passed much too quickly, and we weren’t finished celebrating.

The celebration continued in August. Eleven girlfriends took time away from work, summer vacation, husbands and 34 children. We gathered at our girlfriend Jackie’s Michigan lake cottage to celebrate our 50th birthdays. We’ve been together in various combinations over the years, but it had been two decades since I had laid eyes on a few of these girls.

I forgot how much time we spent together as teenagers. The memories came back when I saw the photographic evidence of our escapades in the late 70’s and early 80’s. No wonder I enjoy these girls so much.

We once borrowed clothes. Now we borrowed readers to look at photos of those clothes, hairstyles and the fashions. As Catholic school girls,  we wore uniforms. Outside of school, we were apparently dressed by Nancy Reagan’s stylist:  All buttoned up and tied with a bow. It is hard to imagine teenage girls dressing like that today.

There was a boat ride and dancing, and dancing during the boat ride. New cocktail recipes, savory hors d’oeuvres, and a chocolate display literally so sinful, we should have said an Act of Contrition. Splits, yoga positions, a cheer routine, wedding photos, unplanned matching pajamas and goodie bags.

I broke a wine glass. Julie broke a toe. It was a gabfest until 5 a.m.

We talked about e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.  While our friendship was built on a foundation of four years of high school, we definitely weren’t reliving the past.  I can’t remember details from three decades ago anyway. Besides, these Girls Have All Gone 50.

Unlike Girls Gone Wild, Girls Gone 50 have it together. They are comfortable in their own skin. They explore new interests, do some incredible things, and become even more interesting. They are more carefree and independent. Their kids are doing really cool things. They have so much to talk about. They are wiser, and they are still a whole lotta fun.


Sure, midlife may not be all sunshine and rainbows, and might include challenges. These girls are facing those challenges with grace and humor and great faith. There is not a whiner in the bunch.

While midlife issues sometimes require putting on “big girl panties,” one of us shared that she hates the feeling of underwear. She unapologetically stated that she simply no longer bothers with it. Ever. Nothin’ scandalous here,  she’s just literally comfortable in her own skin.

The freedom of Girls Gone 50 takes all forms.

Bladder control can be an annoyance, and it may have sent a few of us running for the bathroom. It is easy to see the silver lining here:  Still finding things that are pee-your-pants-funny.

We enjoyed 3 hours of sleep,  awoke with that slumber party feeling, made coffee, cleaned the kitchen for our gracious hostess..and kept talking on that rainy day until nearly dinnertime. Even then, we weren’t really talked out. It seems girlfriends don’t tire of listening to each other, so we started planning our next get together. I can’t wait.

This was a girls only event, but there was one male to bear witness to our gathering.  A former teacher and coach, turned principal after we graduated, was present… in the form of a bobble head.

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Thankfully, he isn’t talking.


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