Tired of the humdrum and everyday hustle bustle of the same old, my best friend and I decided to hit happy hour. Being neighbors and right down the street from the local watering hole, this venture was easy to start; little did we know that easy to start would be difficult to end.
While sipping on cocktails about three hours after work, we both began to feel the itch to get away from our housemates, our jobs, stress and all that came tied to such things. As that itch grew and our giggles increased with the release of tension and the promise of a night out, neither of us could have guessed where the evening would lead us.
Two hours later we found ourselves in the gorgeous town of New Hope, Pennsylvania. Keenly listening to the featured band for the evening with the music was coursing through our now relaxed and cocktail-soothed bodies, our smiles and energy were infectious, and the folks around us, including the band members, were picking up the vibe. Soon there was laughter all around, tapping feet galore and jovial fellow people engaging in merriment and enlivened conversations. The very kind of medicine we desperately needed.
As the night drew to an end and the realization that tomorrow would be another tense, busy and stress-filled day, the weight of that reality began to bother us both. So when the band asked if we wished to hang out with them, it wasn’t hard for either of us to agree. Neither one of us is irresponsible, habitually frivolous or immature, however with the weight of stress that life had recently dropped upon us, we couldn’t resist the impulse to let go and have a bit of unadulterated fun.
So within the next hour, we found ourselves a part of the caravan of vehicles heading back to a band member’s house. Once there we played pool, hung out in a hot tub and laughed like two teenage girls. It was a well-needed respite from the unhappy routine our lives had become.
We pulled ourselves back to earth to ready ourselves for life as usual as the night drew near to an end. However, something in the two of us clicked, and we knew the trek home wouldn’t be a direct route. Without knowing why, we pointed the car for the shore, driving even farther from home.
One hour later, the Jersey shore found itself to be the resting stop for two middle-aged women who had walked on the light side of life for a night but now needed mother earth to ground them before returning to the ruts of their daily lives. As the sun rose and the tide beat the sands, we contemplated where we were in life and how our choices had led us to places that were not exactly satisfying to the soul. We thought about how the only thing that could change that would be for us to change things: ourselves, our partners, our situations. Unfortunately for us, and considering that we were not exactly used to nights like the one we had just had, we both fell asleep on the mostly deserted beach.
Upon waking up (many, many hours later), I realized several things at once. I was too old for nights like this. I was surrounded by children and families playing beach ball. The sun was impossibly hot. I was gritty with sand in places I dare not speak of. I was fully dressed for a night out on a hot beach. My friend was snoring, and we were both badly sunburned with the weirdest tan lines ever to be seen.
As we doggedly tried to gather ourselves and work our way through the wide-eyed stares of the children and adults surrounding us, we again realized the same thing at the same time. We needed to make significant changes to our lives so that our happiness, our peace of mind would never be taken for granted again. We gave too much of ourselves and in a night trying to regain a part of ourselves we missed so dearly, we had succeeded only in literally frying ourselves like two pieces of overdone bacon.
After that night of revelations, we have made significant changes in our lives, but have never pulled an all-nighter followed by a fully clothed beach nap again. We remain as steadfastly connected as we always have been, possibly even more so after that infamous night. I suppose the moral of this story is that you should never let stress and unhappiness make you feel as if you need to run away.