They’re The Best

Warning: this post is obnoxiously long. If you’re going to read it, I’d suggest grabbing a water and perhaps a light snack before you get started. Feel free to take breaks as needed, and by all means, pace yourself.

A few months ago my friend Merritt suggested that I might benefit from a 40th birthday do-over.

Please don’t misunderstand: there was nothing wrong with my 40th birthday. My little family made the day super-special for me, and I enjoyed every bit of it. But way deep down – and I’m not telling you anything that my husband and I haven’t discussed a thousand times – that particular birthday really made me miss my high school and college friends. I missed them like crazy, in fact. And when missing-the-friends on the birthday got compounded with missing-the-extended-family on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s (sometimes life doesn’t cooperate with my holiday plans), I pretty much hobbled into 2010 carrying a big ole bag of lonely.

If not for the Lord, The Proposal and seasons 1-3 of Friday Night Lights, there’s not a bit of telling what would’ve become of me.

So when Merritt suggested the do-over, I remembered the early 2010 sadness and immediately agreed. I thought it was a FINE idea, and if nothing else it would be a great excuse to get together with some of my closest friends. After a few rounds of emails, we decided that we’d all meet at Merritt’s house in Houston the weekend of my 41st birthday. I couldn’t wait.

Now I am well-aware that there are times in life when anticipation can overtake all reasonable expectation, but let me tell you: there is no way I could have ever anticipated how much this past weekend was going to mean to me. OH MY WORD YOU HAVE NO IDEA. I mean, being able to hang out with eight people I love with all my heart? And laughing until I hurt? And feeling safe to share the silly stuff and the deep stuff and everything in between? I don’t even know how to describe it, but “grateful” would probably be a pretty good starting point.

It was the best. THE BEST.

I flew to Houston late Thursday afternoon and met my friend Daphne, who was on a different flight, at baggage claim. The thing about Daph is that it usually takes us four seconds to start laughing about something, so we laughed as we waited for Daph’s luggage, and we laughed when Merritt’s hubby (true story: I set up Merritt and S. in college, and they’ve now been married for approximately seventy-four years) picked us up from the airport, and then we laughed all the way to Merritt’s house.

This pattern didn’t vary very much over the course of the weekend.

My sweet friend Melissa – who I’ve known since we took ballet together when we were six – was waiting at Merritt’s, and the thing about Melissa is that she is sunshine. It made me teary-eyed to see her and Merritt, and as soon as Daph and I put away our suitcases, the four of us headed to supper. We went to Ruggles Green and had what was probably our most healthy meal of the whole weekend (believe me – once we introduced Mexican food into the equation, the healthy factor went downhill and fast). We had to SCREAM to hear each other because the restaurant was packed and the ceiling was about 20 feet high (and, if the acoustics were any indication, MADE OF TIN), but we still managed to laugh ourselves silly. It was a great kick-off to the weekend.

Friday the rest of the crew rolled into town (we missed you, Liz!): Melanie and her new bangs, Emma Kate, Elise, Tracey and Wendi. The last three were getting to Houston a little later than the rest, so EK, Melanie, Daph and I went to lunch while Merritt tended to some stuff at home. As some of y’all know, Melanie and I have a horrendous track record of finding the absolute worst Mexican food imaginable (huevos rancheros in Atlanta, salsa made of fire in Charlotte, lettuce-y nachos in Perdido – I could go on and on), but after our trip to Escalante in Houston, I can say with great certainty that THE STREAK HAS BEEN BROKEN.

I mean, it’s always a good sign when you order guacamole and this happens:

We also shared some nachos, and the steak was divine. DIVINE. I think the marinade must have been made in heaven and then exported to Houston. So good.

And the company wasn’t bad, either.

Melanie and her bangs, EK, Daph

I thought over and over about how brave Melanie was to show up for a weekend with a bunch of girls who have known each other since they wore bows in their hair and Battenburg lace collars on their dresses. But let me tell you: she did not miss a beat. She was instantly adored by all, and it made my heart so happy for her to be there. It was also very convenient, because if she hadn’t been there we would’ve had to talk on the phone for at least two hours every night to catch up on everything that happened. It was a lot easier to just lean over and talk to her at the table or in the den or wherever.

Late Friday afternoon Elise, Tracey and Wendi got to Merritt’s, and I was so happy to see them because 1) I love them and 2) they CRACK ME UP. Friday night we went to Brio, and here was my view from the end of the table. As Martha would say, they are all just perfectly beautiful. PERFECTLY BEAUTIFUL!

Tracey, Daph, Wendi, Merritt, Melissa, Elise, Mel and her bangs, EK

I should probably take this opportunity to apologize to the patrons of Brio, because y’all, we were loud. LOUD. REALLY LOUD. It wasn’t deliberate – it was just the natural outcome of a table full of girls who haven’t seen each other in awhile. Oh, it was big fun.

We didn’t stay up too late Friday night, and I’m glad because Saturday may have been the most perfect day of my life. Mel, Merritt, Melissa and I got pedicures that morning, and then we all headed over to a place called Beck’s Prime Sportatorium to watch the Mississippi State game. Melanie told me that the burgers there were delicious, and SWEET MERCY she wasn’t kidding. It was such a great place to watch a football game. The MSU alumni chapter was actually having a little gathering there, and about ten minutes after we sat down, the guy who was Student Association president our senior year at State walked in. I don’t think he was expecting to be bombarded by a bunch of people he hadn’t seen in a sweet forever (in my defense, we are Facebook friends, so I felt perfectly comfortable SCREAMING HIS NAME ACROSS THE RESTAURANT), and we even got him to join all the State girls for a picture.

Elise, Wendi, Kelvin our former SA president, me, EK, Tracey, Daph (where’s Merritt?)

And the star of the afternoon was this guy:

MSU coach Dan Mullen – we don’t know him, but we love him to pieces anyway

After lunch we did some fun shopping at DSW (the booties were all the rage there, and we tried on LOTS of them), Nordstrom Rack and Marshall’s. We’re a diverse shopping bunch because some of us enjoy it and some of us have a low shopping tolerance, but we shared a unified shopping vision on Saturday afternoon. My lone purchase was a $12 pair of flip-flops, but I had a ball just looking at stuff. I wanted a cute pair of wedges for fall, and Melanie found them in Marshall’s – but they didn’t have my size. A strawberry Crave cupcake cured my disappointment.

And for the record, Crave cupcakes are also made in heaven. Right next to Escalante’s steak marinade.

We saved Lupe Tortilla for our Saturday night supper, and it was hands-down one of my favorite nights ever. It was perfect, really. We had to wait a good while for a table, but we kept ourselves occupied by talking non-stop. We even sang a little bit. And when we finally sat down for supper at an outside table on a perfect early fall night, we had an incredible meal. We sang “Total Eclipse of the Heart” (I have no idea why). Merritt and Daph serenaded us with some classic Dixie Chicks (I have no idea why). We re-lived some of our favorite memories. We laughed until we wheezed.

And I treasured every. single. second.

There were several times this past weekend when I looked around at all those sweet faces and marveled at how God not only brought all of us together – He has kept all of us together. It’s a wonder, really. And for a hundred different reasons, I’ll never forget this past weekend. Just thinking about it makes my heart smile.

The food was wonderful. The weather was great. The shopping was fun.

But the people? The sweet friends?

It probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: they were the very best part of all.

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  1. That was a terrific post! The only thing that could have made it better was if I was actually in those pictures! It would be possible, if only you knew me!! Oh, my word, I live for that kind of guacamole – I love it and everywhere I go it tastes like they plopped it out of a jar. Thanks for sharing – It made me crack up how you captioned all Melanie’s photos as Mel and Her Bangs. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face on a regular basis. Go Dawgs!

  2. Your story made me smile and cry. I am so happy that you were (and are) so loved by your girlfriends.

  3. This makes me happy!

  4. Great post. I have one dear dear dear friend from high school who I do all those same things with (eat, laugh, cry, shop, etc), but to have a whole group? Wow, that would be awesome!! If this was your birthday weekend, then you and I have birthdays close to each other…mine is the 5th and I had a wonderful day today. Happy birthday to you!!

  5. Yes, I read that whole post, and all I had was a cup of coffee to get me through. Mostly I was entertained because I JUST MOVED to a new city (BLAH!) and long for a time, hopefully not too far away, when my friends and I can share a sweet time together like that! There is nothing like a true girlfriend and those are SO rare! Awesome.
    PS. You made me crave Mexican food and it’s not even 8 in the morning. Wierd.

  6. All those smiles made my heart so happy! You are very blessed to have all of that love in your life!

  7. ah this post is GREAT!!!

    Looks like an amazing weekend!!

  8. Holli T. says:

    Girlfriends are the best. Can not make it through life without em. And, y’all are some beautiful women!

  9. Sounds like a fabulous weekend. Great post!

  10. My word I have tears in my eyes. I’m so happy for you and the pix scream laughter and friendship!!

    Happy happy birthday!!

  11. Sallie Belle Howell says:

    Ok, those pictures are awesome. I have not seen Daphene since right after college. That girl doesn’t change one single bit. And yes, I laughed when I read your comment about her laughter. She is the best! What a fun time! A definate mood lifter.

  12. Happy Birthday!!

    I too, Love melanie was Mel and her bangs! :)

  13. Mary Kat's Mom says:

    Wow! What a fun weekend! I’m so glad I could enjoy it with you girls by way of your super post! Thanks! And my word the girl in pictures 2 and 6 – is that really Idina Menzel? ! ? I think her name is actually Melissa but is she related to Idina? Can she sing? Just wondering if she really looks like her.

  14. AWW! What a sweet recap – like a little gift to all your friends who were there that will read it.
    So neat to see lady firends having a good time together – and you can never go wrond with Total Eclipse of the Heart and Dixie Chicks over giant tortillas!

  15. I love this so, so much.

  16. Oh Sophie….
    I can only imagine how much fun you guys had!
    Big blessings, friend!

    I <3 FRIENDS!!

  17. Stephanie says:

    I know what you mean about being with old friends. My wise husband called my high school friends and had them come take me out for dinner for my 40th birthday – no family surprise party or anything like that. I absolutely loved it. We were at the restaurant for 4 hours, just laughing and giggling and sharing. It was wonderful! I’m ready to do it again anytime =) Glad you had such a great time! Godly friends are such a blessing!

  18. Amy from Austin, TX says:

    I don’t know y’all in real life, but this post just makes me smile. LOVE the pictures! All of your faces just OOZE OUT THE HAPPY!!! and the LOVE y’all have for each other. Glad you had a great time and thanks for sharing it with us! :) Oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

  19. This made me laugh and smile and I am so happy that you had a wonderful and fun birthday weekend!! There is nothing like being with your girlfriends and eating and shopping and eating and watching football!! :)

  20. I am so happy you had such a great weekend. Friendship is such a blessing from the Lord. On a completely selfish and superficial note, I do believe EK’s hair is exactly where I need to go with mine. I’m at an awful in-between stage right now and would love more pictures of her hair. If you could share those with me, I would grateful. If not, I understand and I’ll do my best to use the ones on this post. Have a great day!

  21. Speaking of ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’, have you seen the literal video for that? It’s absolutely amazing.
    Videos from the 80’s, you never fail to entertain!

  22. Great post Boo! What a special thing to have so many close friends to spend a week-end with!! And all friends from high school? That’s amazing!!!

    I loved seeing Mel’s bangs since she hasn’t posted a pic yet ;)

    There aren’t many good Mexican restaurants near me… in sunny, cold Canada!!! So I always get a little green with envy at your posts that talk about the yummy Mexican Food! It looked amazing!

    You are a true delight! I just love your writing! Please don’t stop. You make me smile.

  23. What fun! I’m so glad you had a great time. It’s awesome that you saw your old friend at Becks Prime! My sister forced me to go to Ruggles Green once and I was so unenthused about the healthy food. Well, I found a chicken sandwich with BACON on the menu and it was the best one I’ve ever had. Glory! Also, did anyone a Lupe get the chicken soft tacos?

  24. Thrilled, just thrilled for you!!! And can i just say, that this just goes to show that for every “real housewives of whatever city” show with the catfights that is out there- there are millions and millions of wonderful women with real relationships that wonderful, good and truly REAL.

    So happy for you!

  25. Your photo of the nachos is making me hungry!

  26. What a wonderful post. Such an amazing blessing from God that you have and kept such wonderful friends.

  27. 1. I loved this.
    2. All my posts are long.
    3. We’re Tennessee Volunteer fans-Saturday was brutal.
    4. We do like the new coach though.
    5. Glad your birthday do-over was spectacular.

  28. Ok, this has nothing to do with your post but I want to be sure that you know that THE SUN CHIP BAG IS DEAD! (click here)

  29. Ok,so you cannot click my link. Go to USA today and look for “Frito-Lay sends noisy, ‘green’ SunChips bag to the dump”.

  30. Looks like you had a fantastic time! Good friends are the best. Happy Birthday!

  31. I am sending an email to my best girlfriends that this is what I want for my 30th!! How incredibly blessed you are. What a wonderful birthday!

  32. Happy B’day, Sophie!! I got all misty-eyed reading this post! It’s so precious that you are all still so closely knit after all these years. True friends are a treasure indeed, and I know you feel so very blessed to have all those sweet, sweet girls in your life. (They are equally blessed to have you…you are a jewel!)

  33. Oh my goodness. That sounds like a MOST FABULOUS weekend!
    And I have to tell you and I promise you promise, promise, promise that if I didn’t know how old you were, I would guess 30. I am so jealous. You look so fabulous, my friend! (It must be the Mentholatum.)

  34. Happy Belated Birthday, Sophie. I know just how you feel. I’m all about the people, too, and anytime I get more than 2 of my favorites in a room, I can’t help but jump up and down. Heaven will be the bomb! :)

  35. Lea Margaret says:

    When I saw “Merritt” I knew I had to keep reading. Did yall talk about ME???? :-) I love EK’s hair! Loved all of the Zaps! Just like old times!! I’m so glad you had a great birthday! XO

  36. The happiest of birthdays to you, Sophie! There are nothing like old friends who know your old stories and help you create your new ones.

  37. OH MY GOODNESS … well, let me start by saying … “Happy 41st!” I’d give anything for a redo of my 40th, but that’s another story.

    BUT … if the Ruggles Green was in City Center (could have been on Alabama) and if the Escalante’s was by City Center (Town and Country) and FOR SURE Brio … you were 13 seconds from my house!!!! We live in Memorial right by City Center so I’m dying that you were so close that I could have stopped at your table and wished you a happy birthday in person. Just ate at Brio a week or two ago.

    SO glad you had fun! Come again!

  38. That sounds like so much fun. Good friends are a blessing. And how cute are Mel’s bangs? Enjoyed the post! Happy Birthday girlie!

  39. Great post – looks like you had a fabulous time.

  40. What a wonderful birthday do over!

    Ok, I loved looking at the pictures of people I haven’t seen in years…some since college! I loved seeing Tracy, Elise, Daphne, Wendy, and Marion. I saw EK at Newk’s the other day….Great pictures.

    I am so glad you had so much fun. Laughter truly is the best medicine!
    Happy Birthday!

  41. You broke your bad Mexican restaurant losing streak — it’s a birthday miracle! :D

    What a lovely bunch of friends. Thanks for sharing your weekend!

  42. ellebell says:

    This is The. MOST. Perfect. Weekend. EVER. My heart was full just reading about it!!!!!! Beautiful memories.

  43. I love stories about old friends!!

    I also love that Melanie’s bangs made your list of birthday weekend attendees!! Haha

  44. This just warms my heart. Happy birthday Boo Mama! And congratulations on building such warm and lasting friendships in your 41 years here on earth. Here’s to many many more!

  45. Happy 41st and 40th do-over. Strawberry Crave Cupcakes are a sure sign God loves us. But, I am disappointed that you came to Houston and went to Escalantes and Lupe Tortilla. they are some of the worst mexican food in the entire town! What about Pico’s, Teala’s, or Cadillac Bar, even Guadalajra is better. Next time, next time.

  46. Jennifer says:

    Um, have any of you changed a bit? I loved reading every minute of it!! It brought a tear to my eye because I know how much all of you love each other! Love you – glad the do-over was perfect!!!

  47. Lauren L says:

    Can I just say (sorry this has nothing to do with the post) that I absolutely LOVE your tagline at the top of your blog! Read by tens of people everyday? I laugh out loud every time I read that (I’m a new reader so that’ not very many times, but still.) You funny Boo Mama, das all I got to say.

  48. I can’t believe how none of y’all have changed a bit since being at MSU. Everyone looks wonderful, and I know y’all had the best time.

  49. Imagine my surprise when I stumbled on this site today and saw familiar faces from old Chi O days! I’m living in Germany with my family and it was a great surprise when I saw all of your happy faces on my screen today! What a small world! Love it!

  50. Wow-that may be the best “do-over” of anything I’ve ever seen. Looks like it all went off perfectly! Thanks for posting pictures, everyone looks great!

  51. This post makes me so happy! I’m so glad you had a wonderful weekend with your lifelong girlfriends! One that you can treasure forever… God is so sweet to us!