Whiskey, wine, and women have been, for the past year, a theme in my existence. Usually, they are experienced separately. This weekend, they were all together in beautiful harmony. I never imagined that my need to get out of my environment to someplace new for the first time since the pandemic hit would lead to one of the best weekends in my memory to date.
Four women and a dog head out to a little town in West Virginia to escape our realities. We packed comfy clothes, lots of food, and a lot of wine and whiskey. We were all struggling. It wasn’t just the pandemic but the personal issues that come into play. The things you dread, the things you can’t plan for, the things that break you. We met in various ways but became close during the planning of Nina’s wedding. She is the common dominator of us all.
I had known Nina for a lot of years. She is one of my friends that I feel like I have known forever. I don’t remember the year we met, but we are soul sisters—duplicates of each other in many ways. Our friendship has had some bumpy roads. Some that almost tore us apart. This weekend, we stood strong in our friendship, our shame from our actions, and our strength of coming out on the other end. I was a bit surprised she asked me to be in her wedding party due to the issues we had in the past. She was surprised that I wasn’t expecting to be included. Covid upended her wedding. Her ceremony was whittled down to a very private moment between her and her husband with a party planned next year. The biggest struggle was the loss of their first pregnancy. There are no words for that loss. She mustard through with strength and grace, but her need to get away was felt heavy for all of us. Nina is one part of two-part wine.
I met Emily when helping Nina move to her new apartment. Always smiling, always friendly, one of those people you know you want to be around. She and Nina became friends, and we started spending time at various house parties and get-togethers. Emily and I share a common thread of having family members with addiction issues. She has been an amazing support for me, which I know is difficult for her. She lost her brother to addiction, and her ability to openly share, and more importantly, openly support me through some of the struggles is not measurable. Emily and I got closer during the wedding planning. It was then that she shared with me she was struggling in her relationship, complicated by so many factors that making a decision, any decision is a tremendous burden. During this time, I realized there was more to this woman than I ever knew. She communicates openly without fear, and I admire that and am a bit jealous of it also. Much like me, she is just now coming into her true self and knowing what she wants from a partner. Knowing what you want and making it happen can be worlds apart in actuality—her need to escape also felt heavy by all of us. Emily is one of two-part wine.
Sarah is a coworker of mine, but you rarely see the same person in our line of work. Sarah and Nina worked together on a long term project and became close. Sarah was also in the wedding. I hadn’t known her or spent time with her but knew of her through work. We first hung out at the dress fitting. I instantly admired her. She was prepared, knew what she wanted, had all of the accessories needed to make the final decision, and was upbeat with a type of sarcasm I enjoyed. I knew she was probably this organized in her life and was a bit jealous of that too. We got even closer during some other wedding prep events, and her humor was infectious. There were some undertones we were both skirting around, but I kind of thought we had more in common than just on the surface. Sarah was impacted pretty strongly by the lack of work from Covid. She didn’t complain at all. She did what she could but also started volunteering. When many people would have sat and wallowed in their situation, she chose to do something positive with her time. I respected that because I didn’t think I would have handled it that way. One of the things Sara missed and needed was the social aspect of things. She and her husband enjoy going out and being social in various ways, so this was a hard year for her. Isolation is not easy for her. We have a lot of things in common. Our love for whiskey is one of them. Sometimes with ginger ale, sometimes straight up. I wish I were more like her. She has this amazing freedom of speech and self. She knows who she is, and while there is no need to apologize, she is unapologetically herself. You never doubt how she feels and what she thinks, but she doesn’t push herself on you, and she doesn’t judge anyone for their own ways. She is one of the most real people I have ever met. Sarah is one part of two-part whiskey.
Then there is me. Anyone who has followed my blog knows I’ve had some struggles. (Like most of us). Before and after Covid, it seems the past six years have been an uphill climb. I was texting with Nina about our various issues and stated, “I need to get the fuck out of town!”. That started the ball rolling, booking the house, organizing the carpool, planning the food, and struggling through the wait until the day we left. That was the hardest part. I was excited about getting away with these three amazing women. I had never experienced the “girls weekend” before. The kind where there are no plans, no obligations. We don’t have to dress up, go out, or even shower if we don’t want to. I talk about drinking a lot, but honestly, rarely do. There are multiple reasons for that, but mostly, I wouldn’t say I like to drink alone. We were planning different drinks to try and planning a cocktail night on Friday. I am one part of two-part whiskey.
So, two parts wine and two parts whiskey arrive at this house in the woods in a small town in West Virginia. After Sara and I mastered the not so easy automatic keypad, we waited for Nina and Emily to arrive. Once we were all settled in our rooms (meaning three of us dropped the suitcases and Sarah unpacked everything and organized her room), we commenced to drinking. Emily set up a nice whiskey tasting to get things rolling. Nina got the frozen pizza in the oven, always making sure there is food onboard for whisky and wine. I set up the coffee maker for the morning after. We drank, ordered food, (yes, even after pizza, we felt the need for more food) drank, and drank some more. All of us needed the release, but it wasn’t just about that. It was about being together and being ourselves. No long text messages or quick get-togethers. It was just us. I’m not sure we were two parts wine and two parts whiskey that night. I think we were all whiskey. There may have been some wine, but it didn’t matter. We were us. That is what mattered.
With wine and whiskey came laughter and shenanigans. Sarah had a need to enter the attic and peek out the door from the living room view, had no access. Just a door, basically in the ceiling. There was dancing on the table (until it creaked in opposition), There was Celine Dion karaoke, hair braiding tutorials, and afternoon naps. There were fireside chats and outdoor fire pit drinks. We celebrated all the good things we had going and the fact that we had managed to escape our lives if only for a weekend. When one of us struggled more than the others, we held them up. From reassuring confirmation to some glass breaking aggression therapy! We had each other covered.
There were quiet moments when no one spoke, and that was ok. There were, “… can we just talk about how long it has been since I’ve had sex?” statements. We talked about poly lifestyles, swinging, kink, and everything in between. There were plans for sexy photo shoots discussed, life choices and changes, work woes, and body image issues. There was freedom to be open, honest, bare, and raw.
Along with the wine and whiskey, also came the tears. Open wounds bleeding pain in a safe place. Surrounded by loving sisters in friendship. The most noticeable thing for me was that no one cried alone. We weren’t just sharing tears and situations; we were sharing the pain. We all knew of each other’s struggles, but at this moment, we took them all in as our own. It was heavy and lifting simultaneously.
During this weekend, there were several toasts. To each other and what we meant to each other. How we made each other feel and how the friendship means more than we tell each other daily. I didn’t make a toast that weekend. I regret that. I had all the feels, and with everything that happened and all that was said and shared, I knew I wouldn’t be able to verbalize what these women mean to me. These three women are a life source. Sometimes all at once, sometimes individually. Whether I have known them for years or months, it doesn’t matter because they are there for me. Not just this weekend, but whenever I need them, I know I can reach out. I haven’t had this kind of friendship in my life before. Knowing what it is and what it feels like is reassuring. This is my toast to them. Their love and support, knowledge, and advice are invaluable to me. Each of them is unique and special in their own way, but all offer things I don’t have or need more of in my life. I hope that I offer this much and these things to them. I hope they know I love them, need them, and will be there for them whenever they need me. They all offer me different things but the same things as well. A group of women brought together by Nina, our common denominator, becoming sisters in friendship. Wine and whiskey, two parts of each that complement each other in all the best ways possible. This is my toast to all of them.