You might remember that about this time last year, I crafted a 40×40 list. It’s a list of 40 things I want to do before my 40th birthday on October 30. One of the items on that list was to take my first-ever girls’ trip with my mom and sister. Simple, right? Two Google spreadsheets, 40+ hours of research and planning, countless conference calls with my sister and it’s finally here.
And the best part? We’re going to be on a plane in 12 hours and my mom STILL doesn’t know where we’re going. When we sprung the idea of a girls’ trip on her back at Christmas, she indicated she was game. We felt her out a bit, asking if she’d be comfortable going somewhere that required a passport. (Aside from Canada and a cruise through the Bahamas, she hasn’t left the US before. Not because she’s not interested, but because my parents try to live in a way that reduces their carbon footprint on the planet.)
She gave us the nod for that and we asked if she’d want to be involved in the planning or just be surprised. Amazingly, my 70 year old mother who can out-plan anyone, opted to be surprised. Once my sister and I recovered from the shock of that decision, we sprung into action…
If you’re only going to leave the country once, where should you go?
We decided it would be important to a) Choose a place where the weather was likely to be nice in early October, b) See something that causes goosebumps, c) Have our American minds blown by a real sense of history, and d) Find a place where the food, the wine and the people all convey a sense of hospitality.
With those guiding objectives, where would YOU choose?
As much as I love France, this one was a no-brainer: Italy. I mean, going to the Ancient Forum and seeing something that was built BEFORE CHRIST? Walking the same ground that Julius Caesar once walked? Seeing Michelangelo’s handiwork on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? Yeah… all pretty mind-boggling and goosebump-inducing.
Also? Let’s be real. Two words: Pasta and Gelato.
So here we are – after months of planning, we’ll all be boarding flights later today and – if all goes well – we’ll manage to find each other (without the assistance of mobile phones) in Rome’s FCO airport at 8:30am tomorrow. And my mom STILL doesn’t know where we’re going.
When she originally told us to surprise her, we thought she meant, “Tell me a month before we go so I can get excited.” But as the day approached, she kept pushing off the big reveal. Finally, she said, “Just tell me what to pack and then you can surprise me the day of the trip with where we’re going.”
As someone who can be a bit of a control freak (and I’m not judging – I have a good dose of it myself), she’s blown us away with her willingness to just go with the flow on this one. So at noon today, when we host a three-way call and reveal where we’re going, the items we asked her to blindly pack – walking shoes, sleeping pills, a bathing suit – should suddenly make sense.
Now we’re just hoping it doesn’t land like a lead balloon, though my sister has done a great job trying to keep expectations in check by casually working remarks like, “We’ll be sure to get a picture of you on a camel…” and, “Not sure how you’ll ship a Persian rug back,” into the email correspondence along the way.
One a different note: let’s not forget to give a quick shout-out to the MEN who have been supportive of this trip: My dad, Alan, and my brother-in-law. There have been no sour grapes along the way, though I can’t say that I’d behave so admirably if roles were reversed and they were going somewhere fun without me. Alan’s even staying at my place to take care of Miss Moneypenny for me. How awesome is that?
So however this first-ever girls trip turns out, it’s already taught or reminded me of a few things: You CAN teach an old dog new tricks. (Or at least, old dogs can decide they want to learn new tricks.) And I’m a lucky girl – lucky to have a mom and sister I enjoy, lucky to have a dad who is supportive of our adventure, and lucky to have Alan waiting for me when I return.
Seems like a pretty great way to transition into 40.