“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.”
For the first time in seven years I went abroad with another woman (aside from spending 6 hours in the Bahamas with my mom in 2013)! When I realized how much time had passed since the last “girls trip” I felt very surprised – how could I have let that happen? I feel strongly about women and girls doing things that challenge them even if it’s not “gender appropriate” and being intentional about creating and reaching personal goals and dreams well into adulthood. Yet, I’d never been able to work out having another join me on a trip and I know I’ve dreamed about exploring a new area of the world with one of my friends.
This autumn, a friend I’ve had since age 14 (more than half a lifetime ago) joined the journey to Spain. I’ve visited twice before and it remains a place that feels so comfortable and perfect to share with someone. It is only natural then that even with the new dynamic of two individuals, we would have a fantastic week of exploring mountains with a series of hikes, trying some amazing food and taking part in lots of laughter in Madrid, Cuenca, Valencia and many places in between. If you can’t imagine enjoying a vacation could be difficult, you don’t know what it’s like being with someone all hours of the day, even whist sleeping. It can be a challenge at times..especially if the person is me! When with the right person, ups and downs are less extreme, which was something I had forgotten. Recovery from major stresses happens more quickly and shady environments are less alarming. Mistakes are less draining emotionally and two heads tend to be better than one, especially if there is a language barrier.
Hiking in the Sierra de Guadarrama
I’ve written about the relief of feeling anonymous or allowing your true self to come out when free of the (sometimes self-imposed) labels and habits associated with impositions of day-to-day rat race life. I’d only experienced that kind of freedom as a solo traveler. However, while in Spain, I was able to have that freedom and it was invaluable and a true sign of a healthy friendship (or maybe just two healthy people?). Was it worth a seven year wait? Maybe. I do know that it was one of the best experiences of the year and I’d definitely recommend you go and ask an old friend to go on an adventure with you right now – even if it’s close to home.