Into The Desert
Last summer, a few creative friends piled into cars and drove out to west Texas. Our mission was to create beautiful photo shoots but I think we were also a little hungry for adventure. Something happens in your adult friendship, the spontaneity you may have enjoyed in younger years seems to dry up. Granted, most of my friends are married, we all have our own businesses and busy schedules. Keeping up spontaneity seemed like one more item to tack add to an already large must-do list. Yet there was something inside of me that was missing the excitement of college friendships. Back then we went on road trips, stayed up late watching movies, and would go grocery shopping and get pedicures last minute. No idea was too crazy or too simple. Want to drive twelve hours for a concert? Hell yeah. Want to come home with me for the weekend for free laundry? Absolutely. Want to study together, go get piercings, or help me wash my car? All of the above, please. There was an element of freedom in my younger friendships that I was aching to feel. So at a dinner party when my friend Ellen casually mentioned she had been thinking about traveling to the Texas sand dunes, I, in typical fashion, invited myself along. A few weeks later we were on our way.
Ellen and I had been friends for a few years. Our relationship was solid, built on working together, shared interests, and being the only two girls in bible study who ate gluten. However, there is special quality to road trips, they deepen any relationship. As Ellen drove us through the flat lands of Texas, we swapped stories from high-school, laughed about old boyfriends, and dreamed about the future. By the time we reached our hotel room, she was stuck with me for life.
The desert was even more incredible than I imagined. For miles, there were giant hills of sand with spots of wispy grass and wild blooms. As I climbed to the top of a large dune, I could not get over the feeling of freedom. I was tiny in a sea of sand and it was glorious. Nothing could make me want to leave.
Ellen and I began to pull out all of our equipment for the shoot which included a table, two chairs, plates, floral arrangements, pipes for a large structure, and a few bags of smaller materials. You know, all the normal stuff you pack for vacation. With Ellen leading, we headed off to find the perfect place for photos. We thought it would be simple. What we failed to realize were the facts. The truths of the day were this- it was noon in the middle of July, we were carting dozens of pounds of materials uphill, in sand, with out of shape legs. Essentially, it felt like we were competing in a Biggest Loser workout on the surface of the sun. Fast forward two hours, a few dramatic breakdowns, and a full on wind storm that destroyed our hard work, and we were spent. At one point we went back to Ellen’s car and poured water bottles on our heads. I remember sitting in the front seat eating watermelon as fast as I could, telling her that I now knew the burn of hell.
The other girls eventually arrived, we calmed down, and our friend Jess captured the most stunning images. That night we cooled off with ice cream, laughing about the day’s events, and cleaned sand out of every crevice.
As Ellen and I drove back home we joked that some of our dreams had died in the desert, that the sand and sun had changed us. We were coming back different people. While we were teasing at the time, looking back I realize it was true. That trip did change us. It cemented our relationship and it reminded me of the adventure of friendship. I think about that trip often, about the inside jokes that were made, the soreness of my thighs for the next week, the beauty that came out of struggle, and the way that for a long weekend we were college kids again.
As we get older we have choices to make with our relationships. We decide how we spend time with our friends. It happens subconsciously, but we often choose to get in rhythms. Mondays are for lunch with the girls, Thursday nights are group hang-outs, once a month we go out to a restaurant, ect. These strategies ensure we keep up with our loved ones regularly, they make sure no one slips through the cracks. The ease of patterns is a beautiful thing but it can leave us aching for more. Somewhere between the schedules and the routine we can get caught missing the spontaneous fun.
So occasionally, choose to take a chance. Call your girls up for a last minute happy hour, schedule a trip to the middle of nowhere, go grocery shopping together on a Saturday afternoon. Find your adventure. The adventures are the stories we tell over and over again, they are the moments that remind us of who we were before responsibility entered and being an adult took over. The adventures change our relationships for the better. Going into the desert reminded me to not loose the spice in friendships. While my time is more limited and I have a family to consider, the freedom I longed for can still be found.
I may have a permanent sports bra tan line and still be finding sand in my suitcases, but I am forever grateful that Ellen let me follow her into the desert. We have had many more adventures together since then and we often talk about going on another trip. However, when we bring up the desert, we always decide getting a pedicure is a better idea. We’ve decided spontaneity doesn’t mean we have to stand on the surface of the sun.