“Deep breath in through your nose,” she thought. “Big exhale through your mouth. Repeat this ten more times with your eyes closed.”
There she rested in the bed of the Airbnb they’d rented in the heart of San Francisco’s Marina district. Atop a set of crisp white sheets, she half-heartedly meditated thinking through the schedule of their weekend. After arriving the night before on the same flight as Caroline, they were going to meet Katie and Alex at the airport in a rental car that afternoon to head up to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur where they had rented a private point house for their yoga retreat.
“Ewww,” she had previously told Caroline when discussing their transportation to the institute. “We are not taking a fucking shuttle. I’ll use points to rent a car.”
While she meditated, a police officer wrote her a ticket for parking on the street just outside of their rental. In her hungover state from The Tipsy Pig’s patio the night before, she’d later throw the ticket away without regard for the repercussions. After all, it’s just a measly rental Prius.
After her breathing routine came to an end, she heard some rustling in the Airbnb’s kitchen.
“Caroliiiiiiiine,” she bellowed. “Will you make me a coffee?”
“Ughhhhhhhhhh, I’m soooooo hungoverrrrrrrrrr,” Caroline groaned back. “I think I saw a Starbs and a Peet’s down the street – I think we have to go there. Mama can’t make coffee herself.”
She rose from her bed and approached the kitchen wearing nothing but a pair of Todd’s boxers and a long sleeve shirt that she intended to wear during the two-day retreat; not during the pre-retreat hangover. With her hand seemingly glued to her forehead, she begged Caroline to go to Starbucks without her to get two Venti Iced Americanos.
“Do you even remember where we went after we drank that third bottle of rosé?” she asked.
“Fuck, no, I have no fucking clue,” she admitted. “Cafe Balboa? Balboa Cafe? Wait, did we…?”
“O-M-G,” she interrupted. “We did. What were their names? There were like four of them.”
They both stood in the middle of the kitchen with both hands covering their faces clearly attempting to replay what had happened between when they sat down at the restaurant (which Caroline correctly recollected was the Balboa Cafe) and when they said their goodbyes to what appeared to be their “weekend boyfriends.”
“All I remember is shoveling the ahi tartare into my mouth with a giant crostini while you gave your life story to that rando,” she explained to Caroline. “Like, what the hell were those guys even doing? Didn’t they know you’re married and I–”
“You’re what?” Caroline asked. “‘On a break’ like Ross and Rachel? Oh, trust me, you let them know. I’m not sure but at one point I think I remember you typing your number into one of the guy’s phones even though you mumbled on about Todd to him for about an hour leading up to it.”
“I don’t even know who was who,” she clarified. “They all look exactly the same and had on blazers and jeans.”
“Ugh, we’re such a mess,” Caroline muttered while walking into her bedroom. “But we need to pack up because we’re supposed to be out of here by 11 and picking up Katie and Alex at the airport by 1.”
Caroline sat behind the wheel approaching the airport. They had each rolled their windows down in hopes of getting some fresh air ahead of their three-hour drive down to Big Sur.
“Is it, like, so bitchy that I wish they’d drive themselves so we could get there first and get the best beds?” she asked Caroline who looked all but asleep behind the wheel.
“No, Caroline sternly responded. “I’m about ready to just bypass the airport completely and nap through the rest of the weekend while you bitches namaste or whatever.”
She pulled the weekend’s itinerary out of her weekender bag and reviewed everything they’d have to endure. To say that they were backing into this retreat was an understatement, and being five minutes away from adding two more people to an already cramped car, neither was looking forward to what they’d encounter next.
“There, I think I see them over there,” she pointed.
Caroline nearly sideswiped another car trying to get over into the “No Parking” lane where Katie and Alex stood on their phones. “Of course Katie packed a full fucking suitcase and checked it for a two-day trip,” she remarked. “Be more Katie, Katie.”
She hung her head out the window and waved her hand. “Heyyyyy bitchesssssss,” she screamed amidst “woos” coming from the rest of the girls. Caroline pulled the car up and popped the trunk, completely unwilling to help with their luggage. Upon Katie lugging her suitcase and heaving it into the back, they greeted each other with half-hearted hellos and fake “mwah” sounds.
“Well look at you two,” Katie laughed as she fastened her seatbelt in the back seat. “Someone get into a little too much wine last night?”
Before they could respond, Alex remarked from the backseat, “I’m, like, so jealous right now. All I want to do is spend the weekend in SF.”
“Trust me,” Caroline assured her, “We did enough of San Francisco last night that I’m not sure San Francisco even wants us anymore.” She laughed at her own joke despite no one else laughing at her joke.
“Ughhhhhh,” Alex lamented. “I wish I had just come in a night early with you two bitches. Tell me everythinggggggg. Your Snaps looked so fun!”
Wide-eyed, each of the girls in the front seat attempted to remember what they had Snapchatted without checking their phones and looking obviously skittish. Caroline pulled the car away from the pick-up area and clarified that she was too tired to explain.
A reluctant, “Fine,” came from the passenger seat. “We drank hella rosé at this place in the marina and then we went to dinner at some cafe place near it.”
“Oh, really?” Caroline asked. “And you’re just going to leave out the other parts?”
“Fiiiiiiiiine, ugh. And we met up with some rando guys who paid for our dinner too.”
“Nooooooo!” Katie and Alex said in unison.
“They did not come back to the apartment we rented,” she further explained, attempting to nix any inclination that something happened the night before.
She looked down at her phone while Alex droned on in the back about how badly she wanted to spend time in San Francisco rather than work out all weekend. She attempted to type “Esalen” into her phone but couldn’t remember if it was spelled “Esalen” or “Aselen.” She tilted her head back against the headrest and debated asking if anyone had any Advil. Or even a Xanax.
“I can’t believe I’m fucking asking this,” she started.
Alex’s eyes widened.
“But like,” she continued, “What if we just stayed in SF for the weekend?”
Alex started waving her hands like an excited dog would wag its tail.
“If I did a downward dog right now, I’d throw up all over my yoga mat and get expelled from the retreat forever.”
At an elongated stoplight, the girls sat in a silent car all pondering the idea of cancelling the retreat altogether and making a weekend out of it in San Francisco. Caroline brought up the biggest concern – the fact that everyone would notice a glaring lack of Instagrams – only to have Katie come up with the solution that they could claim the retreat was strict about phone usage and photo taking. Alex asked if anyone had packed enough clothes to get them through a weekend in the city only to be told that Katie’s suitcase could probably cover all of them. “But tbh, we should probs just shop on Union Street this afternoon,” Caroline clarified.
“Are we so bad? Like, we’re so bad,” she remarked while Katie, Caroline, and Alex seemed more enthusiastic about the idea of hanging around rather than driving for three hours.
“Turn this ship around, mama,” Alex shouted with both her hands on Caroline’s headrest. “We’re takin’ San Fran by storrrrrrmmmmmmm.”
She turned back down to her phone and cleared the botched name of the yoga retreat in her maps so she could first get directions back to The Marina and finally look for any hotels in the area that might have a two-night vacancy. But as her hungover brain tried to compute for Caroline where she had to turn next, she was disturbed by a text from a 415 area code.
“No!” she screamed. “Caroliiiiiiiiine, look at this. Fuckkkkkkkkkk.” .