Tag Archives: girlfriends

Girlfriend Getaways

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One Spring Break, while I was in college, my girlfriends and I drove from Salisbury, Maryland to Key West, Florida in a cramped, borrowed white van. It took us over two days and more than 1200 miles to get to this 2 by 4 mile island, taking turns at the wheel. You see, we were quite determined to savor a sip of the world famous Frozen Daiquiri-Brain Freeze drinks at Fat Tuesday.

The drive down was just as memorable as the final destination. Along the way, we sunned ourselves on the sugar-sand beaches of Daytona, Orlando and Miami, explored “the World in a day” at Epcot Center, and danced our little hearts out at Pleasure Island. The highlight of the trip was sleeping under the stars at various campsites en route to save money. It was definitely low budget, but high impact, and one of the best trips of my life.

HawaiiWhen I moved to California in 1992, I found another group of girlfriends that I immediately bonded, and traveled, with. Every year around the end of May, five of us would hop on a plane and head off to heavenly Honolulu. We’d spend most of the day lounging on the beach, chatting up a storm. Sunsets were for sipping cocktails, and midnight meant miniskirts and club-hopping. Albeit short, our four-day holidays proved plenty — for recharging our batteries and reconnecting with each other.

The annual trips became more difficult to plan when, one by one, we started getting hitched, and feelings of guilt for leaving the significant others behind began to surface. So we created shorter – and more frequent – getaways, like wine-tasting and day spa retreats inNapa, holiday shopping trips to Gilroy, and all-girl TV Nights.

After a rare weekend “girls only” trip to Vegas three years ago, we pinky-sweared to celebrate an annual “Girlfriend Anniversary,” no matter what. The exact date didn’t matter – it was like a floating holiday, celebrated with another extravagant trip like this, or a simple dinner commemorating our friendship.

All-girl getaways were simply unheard of twenty years ago. Lourdes Uy, a grandmother fromLas Vegas, says that, “It was considered inappropriate and inconsiderate for a married woman with kids to vacation on their own. Filipina women, especially, were expected to take care of their home and children first.”

But women today are different, with female baby boomers leading the pack. In general, baby boomers (those born from 1946 to 1964) have a higher divorce rate and a higher percentage that has never married compared to previous generations. An abstract on MarketResearch.com indicates that “single boomer women comprise a highly active sub-population of travelers, willing to spend on high-end services, spas, resorts and tours [and] turning to agencies that specialize in women-only travel. Over the next 10-20 years, the women of the Baby Boom Generation will likely reshape the market for older single travelers”

Women also tend to outlive men in the United States. According to the 2006 CIA World Factbook, among those 65 year and older, the ratio of males to females in the U.S.is 0.72:1.00 – that’s 1.38 females for every male (compare this to the grim 2.84:1.00 ratio of males to females in Qatar). The 2005 US Census indicates that 51 percent of women said they were living without a spouse, up from 35 percent in 1950 and 49 percent in 2000.

This means there are more self-sufficient women, with disposable incomes and adventurous spirits, who choose to chill out with their chums. A 2005 study conducted by Impulse Research which found that of 1,500 women surveyed, 50% indicated they had taken an all-female trip in the last three years and that 88% were planning to go on a women’s only vacation. According to the Travel Institute of America, all-girl getaways have gained popularity in the last decade, with 98 million American women going on adventure travel trips in the last five years. As a result, women-only travel companies have seen great demand, increasing in number by 230% in the past six years.

Chelsea (a.k.a Shellsea) Huntley, founder of Surf Goddess Retreats in Bali,Indonesia, started her company in 2003 to cater to “professional women who have an adventurous streak and are looking for an active holiday.” She says that 80 percent of her guests are solo travelers from the United States, Europe, Asia andAustralia. “There are a few reasons why Surf Goddess Retreats is so successful. First, we cater to what women want on a holiday, that it isn’t a single focus retreat. Women are multi-taskers and love layers of experience. We give them that,” she adds. Jocelyn Formento, a surfer fromSan Mateo,Californiawho participated in the retreat three year ago, says that the all-female surfing getaway was “a great way to be amongst womankind who have diverse backgrounds but are there for the same reason as you.”

For last year’s “Girlfriend Anniversary,” my friends and I spent four hours frolicking at the SupperClub in San Francisco, where you get to wine and dine in an expansive communal all-white bed strewn about with corresponding fluffy white pillows. With the wine flowing, and the conversation going, we reminisced, we mused over the future, and we once again bonded. The whole experience reminded me of a quote by Elizabeth Lucas: “Sisters are born to each other, or happen through friendships by fate. But however it happens or when, nature has given a gift that is great.”

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Confessions of a Sociaholic

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I confess. I’m a sociaholic.

I crave the company of people, whether it just be with my husband, family and friends, or a thousand others. I genuinely enjoy being around people. My social calendar is often packed with engagements with my favorite folks. When my husband and I aren’t on a date or playing a gig with our band, I’m out and about with friends, chatting up a storm over a fabulous home-cooked meal, tearing up dance floors in the city, or exchanging stories over a glass of wine.

And when I am not face to face with friends, I’m catching up with them online. Through quick exchanges via instant messaging, sharing simple every day moments through status updates on Facebook, or responding to posts on Twitter, I somehow manage to keep tabs on my various circles of friends.

I can’t help it – I was raised around a ton of people, so amid the chaos of crowds is where I find comfort.

People with shared interests, histories or ideas are often drawn together. In my case, my interests run the gamut so my activities and experiences range from the sublime to the simply frivolous. And just as there are specific tools for accomplishing a variety of tasks, I have a diverse group of friends to fulfill different needs.

Perhaps because of this, I don’t have one particular BFF to speak of, but rather several that spring from different circles, with relationships spanning decades, each as intense and committed as the other. They fulfill and validate a different aspect of my life – emotionality, physicality and spontaneity.

My circles fall into three general categories:

  • “girlfriends”
  • adventure buddies and
  • party buddies

Every one of them with a different raison d’etre, closely corresponding to Aristotle’s three concepts of philia – friendships of mutual admiration (and love for what is good), of utility and mutual advantage, and of mutual pleasure.

According to Aristotle, philia must consist of mutual fondness (so inanimate objects are excluded) and is a necessary means to happiness, saying that “No one would choose to live without friends even if he had all the other goods.”

“Girlfriends” are the closest to my heart – these are my friendships of the good. Besides my husband, they are my significant others – the ones with whom I share my dreams, entrust with my deepest, darkest fears, and for whom I have deep affection. Within this category, I have six circles, formed at different times, and corresponding to different stages in my life. Some of them I’ve known since I was seven years old. And some I have just met last year.

(I put girlfriends in quotes because among them, I count three guys – Nelson, Ron and Ray. For all that they have done and all that we have shared, they have truly become a best “girl’s friend.”)

With the second category, my adventure buddies, get-togethers usually revolve around sports. These are my friendships of utility, my playmates – the ones I go white water rafting, rock climbing, skiing and traveling with.

Because our interactions usually require vigorous participation in an activity, there isn’t a lot of time for long, in-depth conversations. Thus, our communication is usually through shared effort, not spoken words.

The friendships of pleasure are my party buddies – our mutual interest in music, dancing, and general debauchery keep us connected. These friends, along with my playmates, help keep me feeling young and vibrant, and enable me to escape from the grinds of daily living.

My BFFs straddle more than one category – their values and ideas almost mirror my own, their interests are as varied as mine, and most importantly, their positive energies invigorate me. My BFFs are my confidants, my playmates, and my party buddies.

The circles aren’t static… they grow and shrink as friends come and go, as their roles in life change from friend, to wife/husband, to mother/father. We all have to balance the need for a healthy social life and private time.

Do circles mostly shrink, though, as we get older? Many argue that with today’s busy lifestyle, it is more difficult than ever to maintain friendships, much less meet new people and admit them into a circle.

A 2006 study by sociologists at Duke University and the University of Arizona, reported in USA Today, found that “on average, most adults only have two people they can talk to about the most important subjects in their lives – serious health problems, for example, or issues like who will care for their children should they die. And about one-quarter have no close confidants at all.”

Two people?

There are 6.6 billion people in the world, 281.4 million in the United States, 34 million in California, and over 7 million people in the San Francisco/Bay Area alone. But on average, most adults only have two people they can talk to? When did intimate relationships become a luxury?

Perhaps technology can help us grow our circles. Friendships are built on blocks of experiences, whether these experiences last a couple of hours or a couple of years. Emails, instant messaging, online status updates all represent micro-blocks of experiences, providing fodder for longer conversations, leading to mutual fondness and trust, and quite possibly, genuine friendships.

And with sufficient effort, fleeting encounters can turn into lifelong relationships. But the key ingredient is effort. Our circles must continue to be nurtured – online, on the phone or in person.