Twenty years ago, during my senior year at Tufts, a big group of us went on a ski trip to New Hampshire. We ended up driving past the Mount Washington Hotel with its grand red roof and sprawling grounds under the White Mountains. It was beautiful. While snapping photos, my two best friends and I vowed we would meet in this spot every single year after we graduated to keep our friendship properly kindled.
Fast forward to 2013. Our trips to the Mount Washington Hotel have numbered exactly zero. That is, until this month. The expat member of our college trio was in the country on business, so the dads were put on kid patrol and we hightailed it north for the weekend.
First order of business: kicking off our shoes, sipping Cava, and eating European chocolates in our room overlooking the mountains. Yes, the outdoor scaffolding obstructed the majestic view somewhat, but perhaps we need to accept the fact that, as we get older, a little scaffolding comes with the territory. Second order of business: dinner at the downstairs bar where we feasted mostly upon great wads of cheese and then went to bed early. I'm not sure if my old college self would have been ashamed of my early curfew or secretly pleased because I always got a little sleepy at sundown even back then. (If my friends hadn't been the fun-loving instigators they were, it's entirely possible that I might have slept all of my college years away.)
The next day, we drove to North Conway and went outlet shopping. At some point, we realized that we were only buying stuff for our kids, and decided that we'd better get cracking buying frivolous, impractical stuff for ourselves or this weekend was going to be a complete waste. Back at the hotel, we dressed for dinner. My ultra-fashionable BFF tried to convince me that my blocky, knee-high black boots with the big buckles weren't the appropriate footwear for my little black dress, but she was unsuccessful. Dinner was at the lovely Bretton Arms Inn just a short walk downhill from where we were staying. We took the shuttle bus anyway because we could. Our meal included a "bacon and eggs" appetizer (pork belly and a quail egg with parsnip puree and fig jam), truffled wild boar ravioli, crab and corn chowder, osso bucco with saffron risotto (yes, of course I ate the marrow, do you even need to ask?), warm apple cider, and pumpkin croissant bread pudding. It was fantastic.
I felt sufficiently shamed by how much I ate that I actually got up early the next morning and ran around the golf course for a little while until the icy wind chased me back inside. It had snowed overnight on the peak of Mount Washington and it was spectacular. We spent the rest of the morning at the spa where I opted for a deep-tissue massage. My tension is the type that cannot be gently rubbed away. It requires muscle, persistence, and painful precision. It requires a professional. I got the right woman for the job. She was flinging me all over the place like a rag doll. I was all aglow with my improved circulation, then nearly fell asleep during my pedicure. We checked out of the hotel so loose and woozy, I was worried we'd be pulled over by the cops and mistaken for middle-aged stoners. Especially when we swerved to the side of the road suddenly so I could have my picture taken in front of Cindy's Mushroom Farm. (Unfortunately, it was closed. It should be noted, as per explicit instructions from Husband, my friends did not let me into the woods the whole weekend.)
Once we felt thoroughly detoxed, there was only one thing left to do. We headed over to the nearest Ben & Jerry's, where, instead of eating a sensible lunch, the three of us tackled a Vermonster—my first one ever! For those of you unfamiliar with the beast, a Vermonster is 10 scoops of your choice of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, a plethora of cookies and/or brownies, various dry toppings of your choice, hot fudge, and whipped cream. Our man Vinny put together a monstrous masterpiece while the children behind us in line cried. Sorry, kids…I had to wait 40 years for this! Your tears mean nothing to me! (Actually, I did feel a little badly. But just a little.)
We did not finish our Vermonster. We barely ate half. My college self was very disappointed. But I'm much older and wiser now, and if I've learned anything over the past 20 years it's that selling your favorite maternity pants on eBay was a terrible, terrible mistake.
Here's to making good on old promises, and to great friends that only get better with age!
Newsflash: Word is that my NPR story will air today (!) on All Things Considered. For you Boston folks, that means sometime between 4 and 6:30 p.m. on WBUR 90.9 or WGBH 89.7. For everyone else, you can find your local NPR station info here.