If you don’t know me in “real life”, allow to give you some insight into my private life.
I’m a mom of two young, wild, toe-headed, blue eyed boys. They’re wonderful. My world. My everything. I’m also the wife of a man whose job demands more of his time than most and requires us to live far, far away from family.
As every mom knows, personal time no matter how small, is important. The utmost. So when my friend Patrick finally got down on one knee for his, now, wife I knew that it was a party I would die before missing.
Patrick and Erin have both been written about a lot, both for their careers and their personal lives and my words wouldn’t do them justice. They are both incredibly talented and rising chefs. Patrick has a passion for BBQ. He owns Feges BBQ, and has worked in restaurants like Underbelly, Killen’s, and currently Southern Goods. When I’m home, I make a point to visiting his restaurants and he just… feeds me. As a woman who cooks three meals every day, its nice to have someone else cook for me.
Erin’s most recent accomplishment was winning Chopped. She is the winner from their “Deadliest Basket” episode. While its an amazing accomplishment, its the cherry on top of a majorly accomplished career, especially for someone so young. Their marriage created a culinary powerhouse, and I knew the parties surrounding the ceremony would be centered on heart-meltingly good food and wine. I could.not.wait.
I’ve known Patrick for a long time. I met him when I was a junior in highschool. He was my lab partner, and by the grace of God and his monk-like patience, he became a good friend. I was annoying, loud, vulgar and obnoxious. He was tolerant in a way I’ll never be. My claim to fame is that I asked him to prom our senior year. I wanted to simply go with friends and have a good time. It went a little something like this:
Me: Will you go to prom with me, Patrick?
Him: Shit. Yeah I guess so.
To be clear, (and because it was asked enough at his wedding) “prom date” was never “girlfriend”. That matters because, no, he did NOT invite an ex to his wedding. More like an annoying friend that you can’t get rid of no matter how hard you try.
You see, Patrick deserves happiness perhaps more than any person I’ve ever met.
Forgive me, Pat, if I tell this story wrong. This is what I remember.
Patrick was in the Army. In 2004, he was part of the invasions in Ramadi Iraq. He was hit by shrapnel from a mortar round. It severed his abdomen and Iliac artery. He told me he held his own intestines in shock. He died for this country. Three times. And then, he miraculously lived. And after many many years of surgeries and recoveries, he’s now ALIVE in the truest version of the word.
When I was in college, I was lucky enough to be living near the hospital in Texas that he was recovering in, giving me opportunity to visit him at least once a week. He was in much better shape when I saw him, and that’s saying something. He was attached to dozens of machines, getting skin graft surgeries and still needed help circulating the blood out of his right leg.
So when he introduced me to Erin, I cried. Because as soon as I met her, I knew. And for a couple years after, I waited for him to propose. She’s his match in every way. In career and demeanor. If I didn’t know better, I’d have thought he dreamed her into life. As many people said, Erin has healed Patrick. She is the happy ending he deserved. Many of us witnessed him fight an uphill battle, but ultimately come out being the best version of himself. And finding Erin was, I believe, the final salve to his wounds.
I don’t care how cheesy that sounds. This girl doesn’t get emotional often, so embrace it.
Now that you have the background, let’s talk about where I stayed.
The Texas hillcountry is unlike any other place in Texas. Wine, local food, rolling hills, shopping all, of course, done in Texas style. Fredericksburg Texas is a long standing vacation destination, and while I didn’t grow up far from it, I hadn’t really done more than drive through it. When I saw how expensive rooms were at even basic motels, I took it upon myself to really find the perfect place to spend three whole days to myself.
Enter the Cherry Mountain Cottages.
The property is north of town by about 8 miles, not that I needed to be secluded in a town like Fredericksburg, but it helped me to relax. I’m very comfortable being alone, and thrive on it. As I drove through the gate, I ascended a gravel rode up a hill overlooking the hills and valley.
The property has three cottages, none of which were occupied while I was there. At first, I thought the grounds looked overgrown until I realized the owners were protecting the natural sanctity of the hillcountry. Once I stared at the tall grasses swaying in the wind like waves from the picture window next to my bathtub, I was glad she didn’t cut the grass.
As I walked the path towards my cottage, I noticed dozens of butterflies. The owner planted a butterfly garden that made the whole experience magical. In the center of the cottages, there is a fountain and I found myself sitting on the edge listening the water just to get myself together for the day.
Although the buildings themselves didn’t seem like much on the outside, don’t let that fool you. They are lush, retreats run by a woman whose attention to detail couldn’t be matched. I walked in the front door, past “my” rocking chairs (I claimed the whole house, including those chairs as soon as I saw them) and felt every worry, every muscle melt.
I was greeted by a soft, plush rug, fireplace, cozy chairs and a big bed.
Let’s talk about the bed. The bed was a fucking marshmallow wrapped in cashmere. That’s the only way to put it. As soon as I laid down in it I knew any plans I had of being productive when I wasn’t at wedding events was nil.
I pulled the Rose wine, cheese and artisan crackers from my shopping bag and then laughed when I opened the fridge. My hostess left me those exact items on a beautiful cheese board! She continued to surprise me because she thought of every.last.thing.
I listened to my audiobook, sipped wine and nibbled cheese while being massaged by the gentle jets of water. I watched the tall grass sway in the fading light.
I wish I could tell you I spent my weekend exploring and hiking. Those were the plans.
But how often do parents get the chance to simplify themselves and simply become an individual. How often do they get to dictate their own schedules, come and go as they please without having to plan around the other, wonderful, people in their lives?
Not nearly often enough.
This is what I need to recharge. So I slept in. I took pictures. I edited pictures. I drank a lot of coffee. I never turned on the TV. I read my book. I drank a lot of wine. I went shopping in boutiques and walked into stores without fear of littles knocking things over or running off.
By the way, did you know that you can drink while strolling the stores in Fredricksburg? I’ve decided only the best fucking cities let you do this. Buenos Aires? Yep. New Orleans? (hell, the whole state) drink the fuck up. Las Vegas? I had a damn cocktail in my stroller’s cup holder.
And so began an amazingly relaxing and fun weekend to celebrate an old friend.