Girls Trip: A Retrospective

I am lucky enough to be a part of a college group of girlfriends who never lost touch. We have seen each other at our worst (one of us passed out in a graveyard after a night of drinking) and we have lifted each other up and celebrated one another at our best (we once threw a “virtual” baby shower via Skype). Between the 7 of us, we have 7 husbands and 13 kids (with 2 more on the way). Our conversations have morphed from “omg what did I do last night?” to “I am fairly positive I am having a hemorrhoid flare up.”

But one thing almost always stays the same – we are all very dedicated to our Girls Trip. The Girls Trip was, of course, supposed to be an annual thing but with the kids, weddings and life things we have had the past 13 years, it has been shifted or masqueraded as something else. We live all across the US now so we don’t all always make it, but we do our very best.

Lins, Meems, Viva, Cho, Er and Beans – this one is for you <3

Here’s a look back at the way our trips have changed over the years.*

*Of course, I am only able to reflect on the trips that I actually attended myself.*

May 2006: Cozumel Cruise
We decide a cruise over a long weekend was the PERFECT trip to celebrate our college graduation. We set sail from Alabama with liquor smuggled into our suitcases and we pile into the tiny rooms to keep the costs as low as possible. We lay by the pool, party ’til all hours, and somehow convince a club owner to let us go in the upstairs bar that was closed. Someone (me) comes home with a wooden flute shaped like a male … body part.

December 2006: Dallas
We go from basically living together to being spread out across the entire US. For the first time, my best friend and I went from seeing each other every single waking moment to not seeing each other for 4 months. When she lands in the Dallas airport, we make a scene as we run, screaming, into each other’s arms. We all eat at a Tex-Mex restaurant with margaritas bigger than our bodies and wind up in a piano bar. They play “Wonderwall” and without speaking, we all grab on to one another and wind up in a boozy dance circle, passionately singing along. This sparks a tradition that takes place at almost every wedding henceforth.

Somehow we wind up at another bar and make friends with some guys. No one will remember how it happens but we go back to their apartment and drink all of their alcohol. Then we leave and crash at our friend’s apartment downtown. I end up looking like this the next morning:

December 2007: Wedding #1
The first of the seven get married. We share hotel rooms, 4 to a room, to keep the cost low. A few of us are bridesmaids – the ones that aren’t start drinking while we get ready. Someone smuggles champagne onto the bus that takes us to the reception. We convince the driver to put on music on the way, and we are adorably obnoxious in only the way that 23 year olds can be. The reception ends but the night continues at an after party no one can remember.

November 2008: Wedding #2
I get married – and it’s hazy and wonderful. There were two open bars, several girls to a room and drunken dance circle. No one has babies and basically no responsibility.

March 2009: Wedding #3
Another one gets married. My husband and I share a hotel room with our other married friends to keep the costs low. We party all night and wind up at Waffle House the next morning. Everyone orders the All Star Special and the waitress makes us move to separate tables because the food won’t fit.

May 2009: Float Trip
We reconvene in Austin at our friend’s house. We go out downtown and dance on elevated surfaces. Someone tells my friend (who is amazingly gorgeous) that her “face is unfortunate.” We do what only drunk, humorous girls will do … we decide to put that phrase on a cookie cake from HEB while we are picking up more drinks the next day. We then go on a float trip down the river with bags of wine. One of us loses her sunglasses and gets in a fight with a policeman.

August 2011: Vegas
There has been a lull – but trips went on. They just missed me because I got busy at work. We all decide to go to Vegas because it had been awhile since we got together. We book a room at the Mandalay Bay and we manage to shove all of us in there. Two weeks before we go, I find out that I’m pregnant. We see the Beatles Cirque du Soleil show and The Thunder from Down Under. My friend sneaks vodka into the latter via her purse – but it spills and basically shuts down her iPhone. I try to buy a pink onesie because I know I’m having a girl. My friend convinces me to get yellow, just in case. I blame that sole moment for the reason we had a boy. We get photobombed by a stranger.

September 2013: Chicago
Bachelorette party for one of us. We get adjoining hotel rooms but share beds. The bride-to-be gets us kicked out of a bar and we find ourselves at the Eggcellent Cafe at 3 AM. We eat one of the most amazing meals of our lives (that we will talk about forever), wear matching shirts and take a boat ride down the river. I wake up at 5 AM to take the train to the airport so I can get home to my baby and husband. But only after I make sure to unpack all the “male body part related party items” that my friends so thoughtfully snuck into my bag the night before …

November 2013: Wedding #4
We reconvene in New Orleans for wedding #4 – right after the bachelorette party, I became pregnant with my second child. They all continue the party into the night at the Goldmine. I continue it in my bed – asleep.

November 2014: Wedding #5
My husband and I spend the first night away from both babies as they stay with my parents. We stay at my friend’s house and the limo that is supposed to take the wedding party to the reception catches on fire. The wedding was quite literally “lit.”

October 2015: Wedding #6
We fly to Temecula, California sans kids, for a wedding. All couples have their own hotel rooms. Our children are mostly staying with our parents. One of my friend’s is extremely pregnant – and the other is newly pregnant. The extremely pregnant one doesn’t punch me in the face when I drunkenly step on her foot with my heels. My husband and I fall asleep on the bus on the way back to our hotel and despite being child-free for the weekend, we still fail to sleep past 8 AM. We eat at the same restaurant for breakfast two days in a row because we know it won’t disappoint.

January 2019:
With all the babies we were all having, it became increasingly difficult to plan a girls trip. We had random meet-ups with each other here and there as we traveled but nothing where we were all together. After 6 months of planning, we boarded planes to Phoenix where we planned a long weekend spa retreat. The night before we leave, two girls text that they can no longer make it – one with flu and the other with pregnancy related issues. We divide the remaining 5 of us between two rooms so only two of us need to share a bed. One of us is newly pregnant and another is nursing and therefore pumping every few hours.

Our conversations are mostly about our children and various health related issues. We stop drinking early because sleep is more precious than keeping the buzz going. We go on a 2.5 mile hike, wondering the whole time who we have become. We sit by the pool. We go out to eat and sing karaoke until midnight. The next morning we get up and visit the same restaurant we had breakfast at the day before because we knew it was good. We spend the rest of the day at the spa getting massages and facials. We sit around a fire, making s’mores and then we pick up pizzas from the same place we ate at the night before … because we knew it was good. We then watch HGTV until 9:30 and go to sleep. Everyone changes their flights to leave earlier on Sunday because we feel the pull to return to our families at a decent time and FaceTime doesn’t quite satisfy the mama-bear urge to squeeze your children.

A weird, unexpected side effect came for me from this trip. By being with my college friends, it reminded me of a time when my husband and I were just two kids – totally smitten and blissfully unaware of what life would throw our way. It was refreshing to remember those feelings and it gave me a greater sense of appreciation for the man he has become and the relationship that we have built the past 13 years.

We left the latest Girls Trip already planning the next one. While I know we get busy and the years may grow longer in-between each one, the Girls Trip will always remain. They may look a little different but the essence is always the same – just a small group of women witnessing the major and minor moments in each other’s lives, marking the passage of time together.

Laurel Hess
Laurel Hess is a mother to 2 young boys, a rescue pup, an off-balance cat and likely a few foster pups. She spends her days as President of a local marketing agency, helping craft integrated digital strategies and leading a team of creative collaborators. Once at home, however, Laurel is just trying to find peace with being the World's Okayest Mom. A Dallas transplant in a Louisiana world, Laurel graduated from Loyola University New Orleans in Broadcast Production. She met her husband while she was evacuated in Lafayette during Hurricane Katrina. They lived 5 wild, kid-free years in New Orleans while Laurel served as the Sales and Marketing Manager for the Superdome, Arena and Champions Square, before finally returning to Lafayette and into the wildest phase of life yet ... Parenthood.


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