We are a pack of four. Myself and three girlfriends who have raised our children together. We've laughed, cried, supported and loved each other through thick and thin. When our kids were younger we would go away for day-long shopping trips at Christmas but as our children grew, we realized we could be away from them longer. We could have child-free getaways!
For our first trip, it was Jaida who led the charge but she wasn’t able to come up with a firm plan. The problem was she was trying to please us all. Finally, she just sent a group text: I wish I could just plan it and surprise you.
I don’t think she expected us to all reply: “Go for it!” Ultimately, we didn’t care where we went or what we did, just as long as we did it together.
The Blind Girlfriend Trip (BGT) was born.
The rules for the BGT are simple. When we agree on a budget and dates, one of us takes a turn planning the trip - the other three have no idea where or what it will be. We try to plan an adventure filled with novel experiences that will take us safely out of our comfort zones, but also provide time for us to reconnect.
Planning and keeping the secret isn’t without stress, but it adds to the sense of adventure.
On one of our trips, we ended up in Saskatoon. I had been a handful of times, never spending more than a day. It was Gwynna who planned this trip and as we headed east onto the highway, we’d guessed wildly at every small town on the Yellowhead. When it became obvious that our destination was Paris of the Prairies, we took turns guessing what we would do first.
As we pulled into the city, and amidst intensive grilling, Gwynna turned into an industrial lot and parked. We were faced with a string of nondescript cement office buildings lined with auto repair garages and air conditioning shops. We looked expectantly at Gwynna. Usually reserved, she was grinning ear to ear in quiet excitement.
We read the business names on the concrete structures around us until our eyes finally fell upon “Pole Fitness Studio”
We were dumbstruck.
Gwynna had booked us for Pole Dancing lessons.
Astounded by the possibility that four over-40 would soon be moving our bodies around the metal glint of a pole, we exited the vehicle and drifted over to the commercial building entrance past the large, tinted windows with: Sign up or Drop in at ClubMynx! Pole and Aerial classes available! in large pink sparkly letters.
Gwynna had asked us to wear comfortable clothes, now we knew why.
We were met by a lithe and bouncy twenty-three-year-old in modest gymnast wear who encouraged us to be comfortable. Nervous jokes and laughter bubbled up at every opportunity like we were a small-town teenage boys’ curling team out for the first time in the city.
Learning to dance on a pole. Just saying the words seems madness. Our instructor was clearly an accomplished dancer. She went through a short routine to show us what we’d be learning that morning and we were impressed at her grace and athleticism.
She took us through the elemental moves starting with the Anchor Grip, Armpit Hold, Basic Pole Climb, Hip Dips, and Pole and Scissor Sits. We followed her directions obediently, more than occasionally dissolving into not-as-silently-as-we-wanted outbursts of tittering.
At the end of the lesson, our teacher announced that we had learned a five-minute routine. It was part of the package that she could videotape our final performance so we could enjoy it at home. Unrehearsed and completely in sync, we all offered her a firm No! It had been fun and will remain a highlight of our Blind Girlfriends Trip, but we were all in agreement that there was no need to have a record of it in this day and age of social media.
As we were led from the studio space where the four gleaming poles had called out to us like the Parthenon only an hour prior, I tried to imagine as I had taken my place at my column, that I had felt Athena, the goddess of that particular ruin, and that she had emboldened us strong, independent women. But the truth is I had I felt like a dope. And I was happy that I had stood there giggling like a fourteen-year-old with three of the finest women in the world living up to the challenge of the trip: Do awkward things smiling and laughing with no shame at sucking at them.
I thanked Athena that I’d been blessed with the opportunities that didn’t make it necessary to dance for my living because, let’s be honest, despite my foray into the College Bar Speaker Dancing Hall of Fame – if I had to earn a living at this, I would have starved to death in short order.
I can’t wait for our next trip.