In 2005, I graduated college and told my parents I would help them by managing their UPS store until they found someone to purchase it. After a year, I decided I had to do something on my own and get out of the 1,500 SF retail space, so I found a job working in the insurance industry. It was by NO MEANS my dream job, but it was something to get me out in the “real” world and doing something on my own. Little did I know that this new employment opportunity would provide me the advantage to meet some amazing/lifelong friends from all over the country. This was one of the best decisions and worst decisions at the same time.
WORST DECISION because I was young and shouldn’t have cared about making a certain amount of money right away, I should’ve gotten out of Jacksonville and explored this beautiful country. I regret not working as a waitress in a foreign city and counting pennies until I could actually find my dream job. Charlotte, Richmond and Boston have always been a place I would’ve loved to live all for different reasons, but in reality I think I would’ve been happy anywhere on the east coast (I’m a family girl and need to be a short flight away and preferably in the same time zone).
BEST DECISION because I met and worked with some of the most amazing people from all over the country. We were our own family helping keep each other sane during major catastrophes. We worked crazy hours, but were young and had enough energy to go out in the evenings or spend time in each other’s hotel rooms/houses to decompress. Now it’s 11 years later and most of us are either out of that industry completely or doing a different job within that company. But the best part is we make an effort to see each other regularly and we are able to catch up right where we left off and LAUGH A LOT!
I spent the weekend in St. Louis with some of these friends, friends that I’m so fortunate will be forever friends. The weekend started off exactly as I would’ve expected…when my friends FINALLY found me outside of baggage claim at the St. Louis Airport, they were in the middle of traffic and hitting the car windows for me to jump in real quick, of course I did and instantly felt like I was in a tumbling class as I was trying to maneuver around a car seat and lots of luggage with my bag in hand! After I was all settled in, I realized we were making our own route to access the unfamiliar interstates and within about five mins of being together I said “I can go home now”, because we had already laughed so hard. I’m so glad I had three more nights with these amazing ladies.
Before the trip started, we were making weekend plans and of course they had me sold when they said “I’m thinking we will go to a few wineries in Hermann, MO.” Immediately I started Goggling these wineries in this small town of Hermann and was shocked to read that they had a trolley that costs $20/day and would provide transportation to/from these wineries. Seemed like such a great deal and if we would’ve had more time out there, we definitely would’ve done it, but we were so happy at our first stop, we didn’t need to. We stopped at Stone Hill Winery and they had a Harvest Festival going on with grape stomping, live music that you couldn’t help but want to dance to (things to learn: the cotton eyed joe dance and how to two-step – honestly I’m kind of ashamed of myself for not knowing these simple dances) and of course WINE!
After a busy morning on Sunday, I suggested going to the St. Louis zoo with my friends family. Immediately the kids were ecstatic, so there was no turning back! We only had a couple hours before it closed, but the zoo was so clean and FREE. I was able to get my giraffe fix (I can’t get enough after my fascination with April the Giraffe) I’m so glad we went and were able to enjoy it as much as we could!
From grape stomping at a winery, LOTS OF EATING, pampering, family time at the zoo, and unfamiliar experiences with breast milk 😉 it was a great weekend. Can’t wait for two more friends from this same company (that make me laugh just as much) to come visit me at the end of the month!!!