Next to a life partner who loves you unconditionally—who accepts how you, the loud talker, tend to forget that a mobile phone is mobile and can be taken to another part of the house, and who forgives your unfortunate habit of leaving hair strands in the bathroom sink after primping—next to this, and next to an incremental-speed, multi-pulse vibrator with extended-use batteries, what is the single most important life accessory a girl can have? Percolate on that for a second. (And, no, the answer is not the leopard-print, calf-hair, round-toe, three-and-three-quarter-inch stacked-heel Mary Janes from J. Crew—although that's a damned solid guess.)
Give up yet?
OK. Here's the answer: The single most important life accessory—after the two already mentioned essentials necessary for survival—is an exceedingly smart, startlingly witty, snort-causing hilarious, self-deprecatingly stylish BFF who likes to travel.
If you're the parent of a toddler, it helps if your BFF is in the same rickety boat along with you. Her experience lends to the odds that she'll toss a life vest in your direction when things go terribly wrong, like the time you didn't believe your kid had an ear infection so you skipped the doctor visit, or that she'll applaud when you rock it as Mom of the Year by remembering every last item, including diaper cream and extra patience, for your outing to the Wild Animal Park.
This additional feature also makes for much more meaningful phone conversations since the constant interruptions on both ends prevent discussion of anything meaningful, and upon hanging up, neither party feels like they weren't heard since nothing important was said in the first place.
I must say here that I consider myself very lucky because I have in my life a handful of close girlfriends who mostly fit this description. I say “mostly” because though they fit the above-itemized bill in every other way, several of them are still living the childfree existence. And to them, I raise my glass and bow my head. I encourage them to enjoy every last millisecond of freedom. Ladies: Sleep late on weekends! Fly off to Morocco for no other reason than because you feel like it! Kiss strange men! Kiss strange women! And for God's sake, fuck loudly! You know I'm living vicariously, even as I hang on every last descriptive detail, remorseful tears streaming down my cheeks.
So, anyway, back to that BFF who also has a two-foot-tall monster masquerading as a human living under her roof. As I stated, she likes to travel, and since I suffer from a chronic case of wanderlust, we are ideal globetrotting partners. Last year at this time, she and I flew to San Francisco for two days to spend some time without our daughters toddling in our shadows. It was my first non-work-related escape from motherhood, and I cannot say how much fun was had because it was way more than all the adjectives in the Oxford English Dictionary strung together. If you were to take all the fun in the world, plus a portion of the fun from another galaxy, that's the amount of fun that comes closest to equaling how much of it we had.
We flew up on a Friday afternoon and took BART from Oakland into the city with some guidance from Lawyer Matt, an über-cute man/boy we'd met on our flight. (My BFF happens to be hot, so cute man/boys cropped up repeatedly on our adventure.) Once in the city, we said au revoir to Lawyer Matt, checked into our hotel and set out to accrue the mileage.
We both have long legs, so our pace was even and brisk as we walked and walked.
At times, we spoke, laughing our way up and down the streets of Nob Hill. At other times, we didn't say a word for blocks, the steady rhythm of our feet against pavement and forced air from our lungs the only communication between us. And this was OK. It was better than OK. It was perfect. It was comfortable and freeing to be two anonymous women unrestrained by shoulds and have-tos in one of the world's most fabulous cities.
Famished, we made our way to a lovely little restaurant, where we stripped off our jackets, settled at the bar, ordered an appetizer and two glasses of red wine. Then we sat, a little anxious, and awaited our next move. It was 8 p.m. and we had no plan—a foreign feeling to people who must calculate every moment of each day, lest we face temper tantrums gestated in boredom. We looked at each other as if we had somewhere to be. But as we took our first sips of wine and savored the rich flavors of our mac 'n' cheese, it occurred to us that we didn't have to be anywhere. We realized that we could pin those two bar stools to the earth with the weight of our asses for the rest of the weekend if we so desired.
With this epiphany, we immediately ordered a bottle of wine and two more appetizers, and there we settled in, talking and not talking, just two girlfriends in the city. We slipped rather naturally into the groove of an obligation- and responsibility-free weekend, logging more than 13 miles on Saturday as we spread our hard-earned spending money between boutiques, bistros and bars. We covered even more ground on Sunday before hustling off to the airport and then back home to relieve our spouses of parenting duty. But we didn't return before promising, with a slightly inebriated toast made over late-night take-out pizza in our hotel room the second night, that we'd do it again next year.
It's next year already and that essential accessory and I are headed north again. This time we're absconding with a whole extra day. The BFF's savvy sister scored us tickets to a sold-out show of an artist I've loved since long before she was the iPod poster girl. So, unlike our virgin voyage, we have a plan for night No. 1, but only for that night. The rest of the weekend will evolve and we'll be rolling with it.
Just as soon as I hit “send” on this document, I'm handing over my get-out-of-momming-free card, packing my bags and ordering those shoes I mentioned—er—I mean, ordering a cocktail. Shoes with stacked heels are fabulous, sure, but not for tromping through the streets of San Francisco.
That is what a BFF is for. Write to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.