Location: Brookfield, CT
As an only child, Laura Seeley cherished her girlfriends. “They were the sisters I never had,” she says. She met some of them when she was as young as five years old, and they stayed friends throughout elementary school, middle school and high school. Even when they all left Bucks County, Pennsylvania to attend college, they remained close. Two of Laura’s childhood friends were bridesmaids at her wedding and are godmothers to her son.
“We never had a falling out or any drama,” Laura says. “We are really fortunate.”
Laura has always valued her girlfriends, both those she’s had since childhood and other close ones who have become part of her life since then. “We grew up and did our own things,” she says, “but we always came back to each other.” She describes her close friends as ones who are always there for her and with whom she can remain close even if distance or time intervenes. “I can pick up the phone with any of them,” she says, “and pick up where we left off.” But she has found, as so many of us do, that carving out time for those friends can be challenging, rendered all the more so when kids enter the picture. “When I became a mom,” Laura says, “it was hard to find the time to devote to these friendships.”
So in 2015 Laura planned the first girls’ wine weekend. “I just wanted to carve out the time to see each other and have a dedicated weekend together,” she says. She invited her girlfriends near and far to join her at her house in Connecticut for a weekend. “We didn’t know it was going to be a tradition,” Laura says. But as soon as the first one was over, they were all committed to doing it again. It is now an annual event and Laura just hosted the fifth girls’ wine weekend, also known as “It’s fall, bitches!”
On Friday night, anywhere from five to nine girlfriends arrive at her house in Brookfield, Connecticut. Laura serves wine and finger foods and they spend the evening sitting around her outdoor firepit catching up. “It is our time,” she says, noting that the kind of quality time together to focus solely on each other has to be carved out or it just doesn’t happen. The next morning, they charter a car and driver and head to wineries that Laura has pre-selected for what turns out to be an 8-hour excursion. They return to her house, put on pajamas, order some pizza, and relax. “There is always a lot of laughter,” Laura says, adding that most of them are pretty tipsy at that point. On Sunday morning they enjoy a big breakfast together and then everyone heads home, carrying the wine they purchased along with the goody bags Laura makes for them all.
Throughout the weekend, the friends share stories and give each other life advice. And everything is punctuated with lots and lots of laughter. “This is quality time with some of my favorite people in the world,” Laura says. “Friends are so valuable.” Everyone shared her view that the weekend “needed to be an entrenched thing,” so Laura now sends out a group email in the spring lining up the weekend that works for everyone in September. With their children now at ages when they play sports and have weekend activities, the earlier they can block off the sacred girls’ wine weekend, the better.
Over the years, they have switched it up. Last year, they all rented a cottage in the Hamptons instead of convening at Laura’s house in Connecticut. “It may evolve as we go along,” Laura says. “But we have cemented the getting together part, which is the most important part.” And it is something they all agree to commit to doing every year. “I don’t see it going anywhere,” Laura says, adding that they jokingly checked out wineries this year that had good wheelchair accessibility for down the road. “We plan to do this forever,” Laura says.
I also love my girlfriends and I cherish the time I get to see them. In fact, one of the silver linings of my chemo treatments was the fact that they often became long gabfests, with my hospital room providing much more quality time to converse than a hurried lunch or a get-together with other distractions could provide. And even with friends who have been part of my life for decades and with whom I can easily pick up wherever we left off, you have to make the effort to prioritize the friendship and make time to nurture it. This is a good reminder for me that as busy as we all are, planning ahead to carve out that time for the kind of nourishment that close friendships uniquely provide is a good idea. I might substitute Diet Coke for the wine and bakeries for the wineries… but other than that, I’m in!