We’ve had a lot of conversations about relationships recently. Significant others, life-long friendships, familial mending, embarking on the journey of marriage, becoming parents: it’s been an honor to witness the many people in our lives navigate the ins-and-outs of relationships and love.
These conversations were at their most concentrated this past week, as Jason attended his cousin Kara’s wedding in Ft. Worth and I departed for a week in Kansas City with my oldest and dearest girlfriends.
Jason’s weekend was one full of family, spending some much-needed time with his siblings, extended family, and godparents all while celebrating the joyful union of two incredible individuals. [To say that I hated missing this milestone event is a drastic understatement.]
However, I had the distinct pleasure of reuniting with a group of women who I also consider “family” in every sense of the word. Julianna, Rachel, and Sabine: these three girls have been in my life since elementary school. We weren’t always best friends but by the time we graduated high school, we had established a bond so strong—one founded on a decade-plus of choir rehearsals, music theater roles, dance team half-time performances, memorable teachers, Greece and Italy trips, Civil War units, awkward Middle School fashion trends, Country Club bingos, and unfortunate High School romances—that we knew our friendship was one to last a lifetime.
Like I said, these girls are family. [Heck, they probably know more about me than some of my own family members!] So once we were out of college with stable jobs, we made the conscious decision to get together every year, because the holidays just weren’t providing enough quality time with one another.
This year’s gathering was particularly memorable, as it was designed to celebrate the first baby of the bunch. Rachel had welcomed her son, Hugo, into the world just 10 weeks prior to our visit, and we were determined to give him and Rachel a full week of extreme “auntie” spoiling.
We reserved one night for lounging, taking over Rachel and Kyle’s kitchen for a delicious home cooked meal of pork tenderloin, roasted veggies, tossed salad, and lemon pie.
We spent time meandering through the Plaza, visiting local artist studios, stopping for ice cream, and meeting up with Rachel’s husband, Kyle, for some good ol’ Kansas City BBQ at Char Bar.
We also took Rachel out for her first night out sans baby, going all-out with an amazing small-plates dinner at Michael Smith’s Extra Virgin and experimental post-dinner drinks at the Rieger and its exclusive speakeasy, the Manifesto.
And finally, we played babysitter, kicking Rachel and Kyle out of their house so they could enjoy their first date night post-baby.
Let’s just say that baby was like a hot potato: passed around from one girl to the next for optimum cuddle time and interaction. It was an incredible sight to each of us play with him. Julianna always calmed him by taking him outside for a walk down the street or a swing on the porch swing; Sabine engaged him constantly with her singing, teaching us all tons of Music Together tunes to help soothe and excite him; and me? Well, I turned out to be a pretty darn good sleeping pillow. [Probably because I have so much experience sitting and not moving!]
More than anything, it was a joy to see Rachel in the role of mother, the first one of us to take on that title.
Again, this week has been all about relationships… about reflecting on these human beings who have been placed in our lives for the good and the bad. Who have stuck around despite our flaws and who still love you when, sometimes, it’s probably easier not to. Those people are so hard to find, and I can’t explain how privileged I am to have found them.
Just for good measure, I’m including Jason’s Pork Tenderloin Rub recipe, which we used for our home cooked meal at Rachel and Kyle’s house. The girls specifically requested that we share the recipe with them, so this one is for them:
Pork Tenderloin Rub
- 4 T. brown sugar
- 2 T. salt
- 2 T. black pepper
- 1 T. each: garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano
- ½ T. cayenne pepper
- Red pepper flakes, to taste
Combine all together and rub over tenderloin prior to roasting.