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Mileposts in the Distance – Memories of Laughter

Note from Stacey: Every Thursday we’re thrilled to offer Laura’s Mileposts in the Distance column. You can read more about Laura below.

Laughter is an instant vacation. – Milton Berle

My theory worked.  I went into the busy Easter weekend relaxed.  I drove home from the spa in time to cook up a good deal of food for our 13 guests.  There was nary a leftover in sight four days later but a wellspring of laughter and good memories.  And about 15 loads of sheets and towels.

But I digress.

The unifying theme to post Girl Spa Week emails is that we all miss the friends.  Spa treatments are wonderful, but the freedom to eat, drink, loll and laugh with pals untethered by the day to day-ness of life at home is the true balm to the spirit.  The jokes don’t ever translate as well in the language of home, but make perfect sense at the spa.  How else could a rabid game of Scrabble (or two) be the basis of laughter that rang for hours?

I am only packing away the memories of Spa week now, since I was too busy to do so over the weekend.  And I am finding that the two events are pretty entwined in my memory as laughter rolled throughout our home for four days.  MDR and I sat at an elongated dining room table, communicating only in the silent language of a 25-year marriage – through eye contact and raised brows — presiding over a group of smart, funny young men and women who generously shared themselves with us.

Lovely Daughter found her tribe at college in her school’s sketch comedy troupe about three weeks after getting on campus 2009.  Next year, she will be one of the assistant directors.

Since her campus is only two hours from home, we have encouraged her to bring home any friends looking for a place to celebrate Easter.  Last year was such an interesting, fun mix of my parents, and Lovely Daughter’s friends that word spread and others asked to come this year.  As a result, she arrived home last Thursday with two carloads of pals, all of whom happened to be young men – the young women all went home, I guess.

One of the greatest pleasures for me as a parent is seeing our children’s excellent choice in friends.  Handsome Son and his Jolie Blonde drove down from Washington DC, bringing one of the graduates from the troupe who lives close to them.  And then a niece brought a friend from her school and our nephew drove down from Richmond.  It’s hard to explain why this group meshed so well, but in many ways it was similar to my own week with pals.

There was an ebb and flow to everything.  As a group they all went to a local mini golf/laser tag/go-kart place, then the next day they went to a local farm to pick strawberries.  As individuals they heeded the call of homework and papers (or not) and looked for some space in which to think and write.  As very well brought up young men and women, they all offered a hand with meals and cleanup and at the end, transformed our lower level back from the temporary frat house to something that nearly approximated our regular living space.

But above all of that was the laughter as stories were told about each other or about the group or as bogus Toastmaster type announcements were made to rousing cheers from the crowd.   It came in waves as one end of the table would quiet while the other would burst into uproarious hilarity and roll on back.

At one point I asked my niece’s friend if this was what she expected.

Eyes wide, she shook her head, “No!  MK told me it was a family Easter!”

But isn’t that what shared experience can do to a group?  Make them more like family?  I prefer to think so and invited the sweet, shy young lady back for next year.  Planning is already underway and applications for beds are now being accepted.

Oh, and even though my theory worked, Girl Spa Week is after Easter next year.  The fifteen loads of laundry will be more bearable knowing I’m heading to see my family of friends once everything is put away.

 Laura Reeth lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with the man of her dreams. With kids off at college, she no longer plays the role of active, day-to-day parent, and has moved into the complex understanding-parent-of-nearly-adult-children role. The main difference is she gets more sleep now.

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