I wasn't always Mormon. I had a pretty typical childhood, teenage life, and college experience and so my 20's were for the most part, full of the work hard play hard mentality. There's a popular saying from an LDS talk about a father telling his daughter to remember who she was. And to be honest, I wondered if I would remember. I had nightmares about breaking the Word of Wisdom where I'd take just a sip of some pretty tropical (and probably tasty with all that sugar!) drink adorned with a bright festive umbrella, and then I'd wake up and think that was out there and instead worry about what I'd wear when we went out, or if someone (like the old me) would tell me I wasn't dressed appropriately for the occasion. And then, of course, I also had worries about how the games would go - if they'd think they were stupid, if they'd be bored, or if they'd wish I'd just stop with it all. Silly things looking back now, but at the time - they were real concerns that I thought about constantly. I prayed a lot about the weekend, asking for strength where I would not be strong enough, and for a good time bonding with girls, and for my scripture studying, I focused on my testimony and some talks about not looking back (or you'd turn into a pillar of salt! - remember Lot's wife?). I didn't want to feel outcasted as the uptight religious Mormon girl nor did I want to feel like I had to remind everyone I did not drink, smoke, or wear short dresses. I just wanted to have fun while being myself, not feel pressured, and be confident with the changes in my life.
Then Friday came and I was off for the weekend. My first time away from Jordan for more than eight hours and overnight too. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know half the girls who were coming though I had heard many stories about them over the last eight years. I didn't know how hot it'd be.
The weekend turned out to be amazingly awesome. Never did I feel alone or judged for not drinking or for what I wore. Never did I feel criticized for staying in Friday night (I was tired, needed a shower, and hadn't yet studied my scriptures) or for not smoking after a meal (in fact, Wendy and I got to hang out as the odd women out). Never did I wish I was home (despite missing Jordan and Andy a lot) and never was I bored. What I did wish for was less heat, less humidity, more air conditioning, and more time!
The weekend was successfully fun. I got to shop for five hours, finish a book, read some trashy celeb magazines, see my college and old firm buddy, Gena - who was driving through Austin on her way back to Dallas, eat a delicious BBQ chicken meal, walk around all night in flip-flops and a cowboy hat, and talk until 5 AM with two girls I've known for more than 20 years only to then wake up a little over 4 hours for Church completely refreshed and not one bit tired until the plane ride home where I got to sleep for as long as I wanted! It was indeed fun and felt like I was high on life, but I doubt I had enough to keep me going all weekend long. I know I am not that awesome and that the Lord had a hand in helping me out, and I'm very grateful for that.
All the girls in our "Don't Mess with Grace" shirts (made by yours truly) in front of our haunted but legendary hotel, the Driskill, in downtown Austin!
I blinged the hat and added a veil, should have made her wear a different colored shirt that said "I'm Grace" because EVERYONE kept asking us who Grace was.
Waiting to eat a scrumptious meal at Moonshine.... the place has awesome BBQ sauce with a kick in it, and we got some free bread pudding with ice cream (everything's bigger in Texas too!) for the bachelorette!
These are my Arcadia buddies since the 90's.
Yeah, don't mess with Grace or I'll shoot you with this gun plastered to the wall!
Our room of girls - Wendy made us do this and yes, we know we're in Texas, not Hawaii.
The best part? I get to see everyone in exactly one week for the wedding.