Last weekend I got to visit Lake Placid, New York for my best friend’s (Pam) wedding. I had never been that far north in my home-state, and while I was a little intimidated by the six hour drive, with my husband and other best friend in tow, we made our way to the Adirondacks from Staten Island.
Aside from the cooler climate, and the 36 year-old homage to the 1980 Miracle-On-Ice Olympic Hockey Tournament, I noticed the purity of the air and the relaxed atmosphere of the local community. A quaint town, Lake Placid is brimming with dog-lovers, French Canadians, mountain-climbers, and an elevated respect for nature and common decency. No one forgot to say excuse me or thank you, people smiled as you passed them on the street, and asking the waiter for a recommendation came paired with a complete tale of the origination of quinoa.
The first night in town, I tried to help Pam weave baby’s breath into twig-strewn wreaths. I wasn’t much of a help, as it took me the same time to complete one as it took her to complete six, but the chance to talk with my old college roommate before the beginning of family and festivities, who now lives five hours away in Syracuse, was worth the kick to my artistic pride.
In the morning, my husband, my other best friend Jimmy, and I took a walk around the town of Lake Placid and did an impromptu, informal climb. I had not been so active in a while, and the pounding of my heart, my missing breath, and the sweat were all so welcome to my body. I have been so unhealthy lately as I allow my stress to overcome me, just pounding the pavement and making the climb up that mountain gave me a renewed sense of self and ability. I was slow, and so out of shape, but I did it.
That afternoon was the wedding ceremony and the reception. It was absolutely beautiful, and I never understood people who cry at weddings until I was sitting there watching my friend of fifteen years marry an incredible man who loves, honors, respects, and challenges her as the tears just welled up. We celebrated, we ate, all was well.
The evening followed with a special reception at our hotel where the bride and groom hosted s’mores as we all sat around the fire pit. I had the chance to spend time with four of my closest friends and their respective significant others. We shared old stories and laughed until we couldn’t breathe. I sincerely laughed so much that my face hurt, and it was wonderful.
With all the stressors going on in my life right now, I felt a little irresponsible spending the weekend away (though I would never miss my best friend’s wedding), but despite those stressors, I allowed myself that time. I promised I wouldn’t think about moving, or preparing the new house, or the business, or school, or anything else that has been keeping me up at night. I stayed present and focused and I felt sincere joy.
The lesson to draw from this experience is to take the time for renewal. There is nothing that seems worse after spending time in nature or with your friends. Be present. Allow yourself the time to ignore challenges, stress, and discomfort. As the old adage says, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and anything you’re working towards is going to take time. In that time, you need to be your best self, and you can only do that by stepping back from the daily grind and reconnecting with the people who matter.
I made a promise to myself after this trip. I promised that I would plan a trip at least once a year with my old friends. We may all be spread out geographically, but our love for each other transcends the time and space, and to ensure that bond always stays intact, I promise to be present. After all, friends and nature are chicken soup for the soul.