They call themselves the PMS Club.
Three women, well past menopause, who come together several times a year to laugh, drink, gossip, and enjoy each other’s company. My mother-in-law is a proud member of this 70-somethings crew that has been active for the last 30 years. These women have supported each other though the good, bad, loves and losses that come with real lives lived.
There’s an unqualified love and deep trust anchoring the group that inspired me to start a band of my own -- with my actual sisters.
My family is pretty tight. The problem is we’re flung all over the place -- Toronto, Los Angeles, Connecticut, San Diego, West Palm Beach. Listen, we’re all still pretty giddy that Skype exists.
We try to gather for Christmas, take turns hosting, but some years it just doesn’t work out. So last year, my two sisters (one older, one younger, 20 years between them) and I decided to carve out a new tradition, bridge the gap and meet up somewhere in the world for one long weekend to reconnect, relax and be sisters -- PMS Club-style -- on an annual trip. This year we went to the Florida Keys.
I know. The whole “girls trip” thing can come across as corny (though not as much as the "mancation," but I suspect that’s because someone actually has to utter the word mancation). And the exclusionary "just sisters" part gets some eye-roll from our only brother. So what makes this getaway so special and different? It just is.
Even though we grew up under the same roof and a share a bloodline, it’s on these adventures that we get to know-know each other, basking in our similarities -- and differences -- in a fresh way.
On our inaugural trip to the Dominican Republic last year, I found out that my older sister is pretty claustrophobic. Something she found out at 30, when she was flying on a packed plane (window seat, naturally) heading across the Atlantic. I had no idea. On this trip, I discovered that my little sister knows her way around a bar menu. She’s all about the Dark & Stormys.
There’s also something daring about setting off to a new island or city and experiencing it with this safe circle of people who you trust with everything. This year we took the daring part seriously. As in, "Let's go parasailing," levels of serious, as in agreeing to harness up to a Technicolor parachute 600 feet above the sparkly sea, while the speedboat below drags you along the horizon.
“I don’t think I want to do this,” my little sister says, as we walk over to meet Captain Darrell and the friendly folks at the Caribbean Watersports Tiki hut to sign papers that essentially say, if things get funky, we won’t sue.
After doing my own quick gut-check, I ask my older, you know the one with claustrophobia, “What do you think?”
“I’m game, but if we’re not all for it, we can skip it,” she says, without a blink or a beat.
We both turn back to our little sister for the last word. No pressure. I mean, we’re standing on a private beach in bikinis and flip-flops. Everything about the scene says no pressure.
“I’m nervous, but if we’re all doing it, I’ll be OK,” the youngest Blades says after a deep breath.
Once we got our heads out of the clouds and landed back on earth, giggling like giddy fools with our hearts still thumping behind our eyes, without even saying it we each knew that something had changed, shifted, for the better.
Yes, it probably sounds corny, but it’s true. Doing this daring thing together on that sunny afternoon somehow underscored our bond as sisters -- but more important, as girlfriends. Perhaps kissing the sky will do that to you.