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To celebrate turning forty I went to a spa with my two best girlfriends from New York. We grew up together but have not lived within a few hours of each other since we all went off to college. In most ways our lives could not be more different. While we do our best to keep in touch, we are lucky to see each other once a year. This was momentous and a good excuse to get away without our respective families.

We chose a fancy place that was located in the Berkshires which is where my father lives. Even better, he could pick me up from the airport and I could see him right before and right after the spa. It was not cheap but then, few things I covet are cheap. We opted for the least expensive option of a three-night stay in the middle of the week. Available for the price of one mortgage payment. Plus a cross country plane ticket. But, getting away from my family: priceless.

One girlfriend (no kids) lives an hour away and the other (two kids plus one helpless husband) a few hours drive away. Even though I was traveling the furthest I had the easiest time planning the trip. I had been getting crankier by the day and even my family wanted me to go away. My childless friend actually has a social life (with other adults!) and had to move some stuff around. My friend with kids had to line up child-care since her husband is incapable of caring for his own children. My own husband assured me that things at home would be fine. I could not have cared less. I was going to a spa!

I realized sadly this would mark the first time I went away from both my children overnight. And the first time I would go away overnight from my husband since we were married. This trip was long overdue.

I was so up for it. Yoga, massages, no laundry, sleeping alone. The idea of packing for one and reading a book on a long flight made me positively giddy. My friends shared a room but I got my own. It would be my first time sleeping alone in over eight years.

The place was fantastic and I felt healthier instantly. We went to workshops that were going to change our lives. I was happy enough just for a change of scenery!

I spoke to my family grudgingly every night. My seven-year-old kept track of the time. “You have been gone two days and two nights so far.” My four-year-old was having a hard time comprehending the telephone. “Mommy? Dat you? Mommy? How you GET in dere?” And this was my sharp one who could work the DVD player by himself.

My husband claimed things were going great. He had not realized how bad our storage situation was and was going to build me shelves. Not at any point in all the years I had asked for them but now in the next three days. Right.

The time my friends and I spent reconnecting was as good as any of the spa services. We vowed to keep in better touch and try to do a girls getaway every year. I could not imagine being any more relaxed.

And then I got home. It all came rushing back like a tidal wave. There were no shelves waiting for me. The house appeared clean but upon further inspection I found the answer. The unseen toys were not put away but actually stuffed into paper grocery bags behind the couch. The laundry had indeed been washed. The first day I was gone in fact. Unfortunately my husband doesn’t understand that sorting, folding, and putting away are the things that make laundry “done.” There was a mountain of “clean” laundry on the spare bed.

Was it worth it? The workshops did not change me or my life. The “healthy” recipes never made it into our regular menu. I did not keep up my yoga routine. My friends and I have kept in touch better than before and have managed to sneak away at least once a year. But nothing as extravagant as that spa.

Now when I am cranky (when am I NOT cranky?) my older son suggests that I go away again for six days and five nights. What a great idea! I do need to get away again. I need to start taking time for myself on a regular basis not just once a year. So I have started taking more time for myself every day even if my kids are around. The spa taught me it is not so much where you are physically. I do not need to be at a fancy spa in order to get away. It really is a state of mind.

I did get a lot out of that trip. Not healthy recipes, or yoga routines, but a sense of myself.

My husband laughs and says fine as long as I don’t come back with “another $2,500.00 Canyon Ranch t-shirt.”


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