Chapter 2 – “I just wanna be with you”

Back in 2010, my best friend and I had been friends for about 5 years. I’m not going to lie, years 3-6 were pretty rough for us as we navigated what being in a committed friendship meant to each other. We both had to learn countless lessons in communication, patience, love, forgiveness, and acceptance. To be fair, we’re still learning, but we’ve gotten MUCH better at it all. But, I digress.

Sometime in late 2009, we started talking about taking a trip together. A BFF trip. We talked about the places we wanted to go, the things we wanted to do and see, and landed on Washington DC. That trip taught us a lot about each other and about ourselves, but we came back with BFF status still in tact and we’ve tried to take a trip together every year since, even if it was just a local weekend getaway. We’ve been to Portland, Oregon, Whistler, Canada, and Las Vegas, Nevada.

In 2015, I kicked off all my trips with a BFF-cation to Austin, Texas. We each listed out our top 3 to 5 cities we wanted to visit, took the ones that we agreed on, and then narrowed it down based on the things we wanted to do in the cities.

I didn’t know a lot about Austin when we picked it, other than it being known as a great city for music and a large hipster scene, so basically the Seattle of the South. That’s what I expected going into it.

Now, one key thing I’ve learned in traveling with my BFF is that we travel at different speeds. I tend to be a “let’s get up now and go do all the things from morning ’til night!”, whereas she is a “let’s sleep in and meander around a bit, go out, do some stuff, take a break, do some stuff, take a nap, do some stuff, go to bed.” and those differences can lead to a very exasperated me if I’m not careful. So, one of the main reasons I chose Austin is because there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of things to do, which meant I wouldn’t be pushy about going full-throttle the whole 5 days we were there. I set my mind ahead of time to be on slow-mode. And it worked out pretty well.

Austin was a fun experience. We went really hard the first night we were there. We hit several bars with bands, staying for a drink or two and continuing the traditional walk down 6th Street. We saw cover bands and originals. But, my ultimate favorite place was a reggae bar that we stumbled into as a kind of joke. It was one of those “We’re on vacation! Let’s do something different!” And we spent the rest of our evening there, drinking dangerous rum punch drinks and mingling with a very stoned, very friendly crowd. We watched the oldest reggae band in Austin perform (ironically, all white dudes).

The evening ended with late night food from Denny’s and a drunken stumble home wherein I continued to question if we should call a cab while BFF insisted we were close. Turns out, Denny’s was two blocks from our Airbnb. In my inebriated state, I still held firm on my thoughts to call a cab even while I giggled at my absurdity. Ah, good times.

Day two dawned and let’s just say that BFF and I quickly learned upon our awakening that we were not 25 year old’s still. That 30-something hangover is no joke. AT. ALL. We didn’t even manage to leave the apartment for a few hours and the only thing driving us was hunger. By mid-afternoon, all that we had accomplished was lunch, pedicures, pie and a grocery store run for snacks in the room. The rest of the day was spent inside, with BFF napping and me watching episodes of Friday Night Lights on Netflix, drinking wine and eating aforementioned snacks. We ventured out to grab dinner but ended up just picking up a couple things and going back to the room. Needless to say, day 2 was kind of a bust, but very relaxing. And in the end, I think that was a vital lesson for me to learn. Not every moment of a vacation needs to be completely booked. In fact, the whole idea of a vacation is to relax, right? At least a little bit.

The next few days were spent seeing random parts of Austin, doing some shopping, seeing a local blues band, and actually spending a lot of down time in the room with BFF, watching Netflix, eating snacks and being us. We played some games. We drank mimosas. We simply hung out.

On our final day, we had run out of things to do in Austin, so when her dad offered to drive down from San Antonio and pick us up, we went for it. As a bonus, we ended up with several hours at their home, relaxing, eating comfort food, feeling at home. It was really nice.

It’s been an ongoing struggle for me to learn how to fit into other families, but since I live so far away from mine, I’ve had no choice really unless I wanted to be alone for all holidays. Throw in the added fact that I am independent beyond normal, and it’s a harsh combination. I don’t know that I’ll ever feel 100% at home somewhere else, but a couple of families have made it much easier on me. At the end of the day, BFF is my family. She’s the first person I call when I need to talk something through, or need to cry. She’s there for me whenever I need her (as long as her phone isn’t on silent) and her family is mine. She’s told me that 1000 times. And I believe her. I know if I needed them, they would be there for me however they could, and that’s not something I take lightly.

When I think about my friendship with BFF, sometimes I can get caught up in the “how” of it. We’re so different in some ways, and so alike in others that I often wonder how in the world we’re friends, but I know how. It’s because we work really hard at our friendship. We work through conflict, we allow each other to speak into our lives, and we’re open to learning and growing from the other. This trip was me learning how to slow down and just appreciate being on vacation with her. It was about me letting go of control, knowing that the whole trip wouldn’t fall apart. It was about us laying around laughing for 20 minutes at our absurd Goldilocks beds in the Airbnb (her’s much too firm, and mine so soft and springy that I fell right off it a couple times), or watching endless episodes of Friday Night Lights on the couch, and me finally (FINALLY) beating her at Monopoly.

BFF and I will always get on each other’s nerves after several days of constantly being together, we’ll still both be stubborn and think we’re right, we’ll still laugh at really dumb things together and travel with other people, but I think we both have learned that this friendship isn’t going anywhere, and that we plan to continue traveling together as much as we can.

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