The Bonding Retreat

One of the best ideas (and that’s saying something!) that Rachel had while I planned my wedding was to have a Bridal Party Retreat the weekend before the wedding. An overnight trip so the four of us (two bridesmaids, one maid of honor, and one bride) could relax, have a quiet moment, and bond a bit as a group. 

My bridal party consisted of my sister (Cassidy), my closest friend from high school (Jacki), and the best friend I’ve made as an adult (Rachel). They are three vivacious, intelligent, compassionate, witty women, and I’m fortunate to be so close with them. But they don’t really know each other. There’s not much overlap in their social lives, and I did feel a little worried about how they’d fare having to spend so much time together for my sake. So, when Rachel suggested the overnight trip I responded quite enthusiastically!

We rented a cabin at the Robin Hood Village Resort in Union, Washington. It’s directly off of route 106 with a drive to get there that is positively gorgeous. It winds along the Hood Canal, and it looked particularly good at the end of October with that blazing foliage ๐Ÿ˜

* * *

The entire trip, from start to finish, was perfection. We arrived late, the baby we had with us had a diaper blow out while en route, and I found a huge spider in the bath tub. A loud-ass dog barked through the night, and Rachel’s bed was essentially a piece of plywood with a one inch cushion on it. Those are all of the “bad” things that happened, and each moment was funnier than the last (well, not Rachel’s situation – that one was lame).

I woke up around 5 in the morning and needed a pee. The cabin was an open plan A frame with stairs to the loft area, and a proper closed off bedroom on the ground floor. Cassidy, Rachel, and I slept in the loft area and Jacki took the bedroom with her wee one. I groped for my glasses and squinted through the dark while feeling my way to the railing of the stairs. The railings were low so part of me was a bit concerned about falling, but I did not. As I walked through the cabin I discovered Jacki. She was in her robe, a huge smile on her face, eating fruit while standing in the middle of the kitchen. This was the first night in weeks that her baby had fallen asleep easy and slept for hours without waking. She felt exuberant and rested, and the vision of her in that moment will be filed away as “bliss” in my memories.

Me watching Jacki eat fruit at 5 am

Our cabin had a personal hot tub and Rachel and I made immediate use of it. It was a fascinating ‘inflatable‘ one, which is something I wouldn’t mind owning myself! Later in the night we gathered ’round the coffee table and played the ‘Friends’ edition of Cards Against Humanity while doing face masks. I freaking love Freeman Face Masks. Rachel and I brought our collections, so we had eight to choose from. It gave me a chance to try the Dead Sea Minerals one and it really felt incredible. This is reminding me that I wanted to buy some for myself ๐Ÿ˜ฎ Also? A girls night of doing face masks and giggling and talking is as fun as I hoped it would be. A cliche that holds up. Primo good time, A+, I do recommend doing this with your friends.

The Queen and her Morning Soak

My sweet inaanak stealing the show during a photo session

I brought my iPad along so we could connect to the WiFi and watch ‘Friends’ on Netflix. Man, that’s a wild sentence. Technology has brought so much joy and convenience to my life. I love the future! There was an electric fireplace in the living room where we sat playing games with ‘Friends’ on in the background. We snacked on Gardetto’s, gummy bears, and blueberry muffins. The fake fire roared, the cabin was toasty, and before long we drifted toward bed. I curled up in a queen bed next to my sister, and slowly fell asleep.

This would be me with the woman who made this trip possible โค

Through the evening and the next morning we all had chances to veer off in pairs. The different points of influence in my life came together and separated again, sister knowing Rachel better, sister finding common ground with Jacki, Rachel and Jacki working in tandem, everyone forging stronger relationships and making funny memories. Thinking about it creates a sort of flashback montage in my mind, and it makes me smile. 

(I just love having this space to wax poetic about the sweet moments in my life.)

Just like my bridal shower, the overnight retreat was so perfect and wonderful that I could swear I was dreaming. It was just… fun.

Not many things in life go a “picture perfect” way. Something always gets messed up. And more often than not the expectation and pressure from media and advertising just ruins whatever the experience is, because it’s easy to get caught up in wondering if we’re doing something “the right way,” (hello, angry parents at Disneyland who are pissed that their kids aren’t having enough fun?). 

Perhaps this was perfect because I was relaxed and not worrying about doing it a “right way”. Perhaps this was perfect because it simply was perfect. Cosmically and inexplicably so. I’ll never know, and I guess it doesn’t matter. Let’s just go with this: in shirking my obsession with expectations and measuring up to other people’s experiences, I was able to enjoy everything that came my way and have no plans except to enjoy myself. Which I did. Immensely. I’ll try to remember to do it again.

x – happy beast


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