A few weekends ago, my girlfriends and I threw our well worn selves, Maria’s pup Billie, and an infinite number of road trip snacks into a car and three hours later, and for the next three days, found ourselves strewn across the lawn of a gorgeous cabin in Hunter.
You know that feeling when you didn’t know how bad you needed something until you’re doing it? That was this trip to me. Even while I was rushing to pack on Thursday night, as Victor reminded me if I forgot something I could just pick it up along the way, I kept thinking of this trip as a nice to have. But upon arrival, upon laying down on the lawn and looking at nothing but pine trees and the peaks of mountains and green for all the eye can see, it felt like I started to take my first big breath again since March.
Even without the pandemic, I’m someone who will drag their feet into the ground until I am waist deep, hemming and hawing about if it’s the right time to travel.
The irony is that I absolutely love to see and explore new places, I love the adventure of heading somewhere new. And yet, even knowing this information, I’ll overthink logistics, the budget, if I should take the time off work, have I worked hard enough to take time off (this is a myth to unpack all on its own!). I’ll think about it, and debate it, and make spreadsheets, and put up all these unnecessary round blocks that keep the tickets from being purchased and the hotels from ever being booked. It’s a habit I’ve found myself regretting most during this time, as I’ve spent evenings on my couch wondering what Mexico City Carly and Tuscany Carly and New Orleans Carly and Berlin Carly would have seen had I not stopped their trips with the thought, “It will be a better time in the future, I’ll go there next year.”
That’s a myth that has been officially busted in 2020.
This trip I felt especially grateful for my girlfriends who made it happen with links, and pep talks that we’d figure it out, and planned menus. Oh, the menus. If there is one thing I hold most dear from this trip it was our group dinners sat around our cabin’s large table with plates of grilled meats, veggies, salsas, sauces, drinks, and salads strewn in front of us as we talked about everything big and small. It’s family style dinners that I often miss most in New York City — both from having no kitchen table in my apartment and not being able to host people inside during this time — and so each meal became something a little extra special.
For three days we cooked with each other, hosted homemade happy hours, hiked around North South Lake, played Monopoly Deal, and sat around the fire pit outside the front porch. We ate donuts at my favorite upstate donut shop, Twin Peaks Donuts, before it closes in November for good. We read in the hammock and talked for hours and laughed about the egg water that had consumed the entire city’s plumbing system and therefore our entire trip, leaving us constantly smelling one another and asking, “Do I smell like rotten eggs?” We allowed ourselves to just be, moving around one another like deft sailors driving a boat as we cooked and lived and enjoyed the space in a quiet, communal unison that feels like its own special type of magic.
They also patiently put up with my constant habit of organizing spaces in ways that make sense to only me.
This trip was the first time I’d left New York City since touching back down from Burbank in early March after traveling home to celebrate my grandma’s 90th birthday. In the months since, I’ve struggled — like so many others — with the idea of planning ahead. How can you plan ahead when so much is in flux? But like riding the subway and eating outside, it’s taken necessary gumption to jump back on the planning horse. At first it was planning ahead to the weekend, then the next week, then next month before planning a few trips upstate to get a break from the city.
We’re incredibly lucky here in New York to feel safe enough to travel incrementally again, to ride the subway again, and be able to eat outside. With cases remaining low, and the commitment of nearly everyone to continue wearing masks full-time, it’s allowed for us to start planning ahead again, and it’s a privilege to be able to do so.
For our little group, this trip felt like a small tangible way of caring for ourselves and honoring all we’ve endured over the last year — so much of which we’ve endured together. It was a moment of stillness, of getting to be together and just enjoy one another, before our lives continue to change with possible moves and the answering of big life questions and the impending presence of winter.
This time of 2020 is a hard time and we’re all just trying our best. This weekend gave me moments of feeling deliciously in-tune with nature once again, but also hopeful for a time post-Covid that will resemble many of the great moment pre-Covid. We all agreed on the drive back, where we all found ourselves already nostalgic for our cabin, that the trip had been too short and that another one was probably already needed.
So if you’re like me and can spend infinite and unnecessary amounts of time debating if you should take, do yourself a favor and book it. Grab your favorite people, your pup, or just treat yourself, and enjoy the excitement of planning out (or not!) how you’ll spend your time, where you’ll explore, what you’ll eat. Because we rarely regret booking the ticket, but we will for sure regret the times we didn’t book them and the many adventures we missed out on in turn.