The night before the SoCal YLF Weekend, I couldn’t sleep. I drove The Husband crazy, trying endless clothing combinations and fussing over details like weather, mall temperature, and frenetic-shopping-pit-stain possibilities.
“Where are you going again?” The Husband asked me.
“All over,” I said. “But first, we’ll meet at my friend Vicki’s house for breakfast.”
“Ah,” he mused, “so this must be someone you’ve met before.”
“Well, not exactly,” I hedged, wondering how to explain.
“But you’ve known her for a long time online?” he offered.
“And the others?”
“Flying in from out of state – it is a miracle they were all free!”
At this point, Vicki had just recently joined the forum. AJ had proposed a Los Angeles meetup and, before we knew it, Claire, Aida, and Una had also arranged to be in the same place at the same time.
Hubs looked at me like I was about to become a sensationally tragic news story.
“None of you have met, and you’re all going to Vicki’s house?” he asked again. “For food?”
That’s just how we roll at YLF. I knew I loved Vicki – and Aida and AJ and Una and Claire – even though I’d never met them before. The same was true when I initially joined the rest of the SoCal members at MaryK’s house for my first swap party and again at the Pasadena gathering. Simply put, we were old friends, newly acquainted.
Hubs may have had misgivings, but I knew better!
When the morning of the meetup finally came, I zoomed out of the house earlier than planned and pulled up to Vicki’s place sporting a huge grin. Her fabulous husband stood out front as a one-man welcoming committee, in Strong and Simple black and white. He was so gracious and friendly!
I was first to arrive (and meet the cat!), but it wasn’t long before Aida, Claire, AJ, Marley, Vicki, and I were treated to a gorgeous meal (complete with personalized pumpkin place settings!) in Vicki’s gorgeous home complete with the most fantastic animal-print upholstery. I will always remember the mimosas, the food, and the easy conversation. We all took turns sharing our stories and, by the time we piled into our cars to hit the mall, I almost couldn’t believe that Aida, Claire, and AJ had all flown in from out of state – wait, you mean I don’t shop with these ladies every weekend? Now that’s weird!
From Vicki’s house, we headed out to South Coast Plaza in sunny Costa Mesa, where we were able to hit up H&M, Zara, Club Monaco, Theory, Express, and Anne Fontaine. The trip netted a killer blue tweed moto, red blazer, and long-awaited fur vest for Aida; perfectly fitting, perfectly current orange skinnies for Vicki; and some adorable pictures for all of us.
Because one mall is not enough when the YLF gang is in town, we zipped over to Fashion Island, Newport Beach for dinner, drinks, and more damage. Aida was able to test drive a Halogen Seamed Pencil Skirt in Nordstrom, and everyone talked me into my now-beloved F21 faux-shearling jacket. Oh yeah, you’d better believe we closed that Forever 21 down!
And because one DAY is not enough when the out-of-state YLF gang is in town, we reconvened on Sunday morning to continue our shopping shenanigans – swap meet style. Khris was able to join us at this point, which thrilled us all. Vicki wowed us by bringing an extra pair of shoes for serious walking, I found a pair of work pants, and Claire scored a fab $200 Elliott Luca bag, which she later refurbished with leather dye, for all of $15.
Next, we replenished ourselves by lunching with Dynamic Duo Una and MaryK at the local Macaroni Grill. The energy, joy and no one would ever have guessed that the former had just flown in from Alaska and braved Disneyland – or that the latter had just returned home from a glamorous cruise! We ate, we swapped stories, we laughed, Aida presented an invaluable photography lesson and, before we knew it, it was time for Una and MaryK to head out. Hugs and another set of accessory photos later, the rest of us were off for one last adventure.
We returned to Costa Mesa to visit The Lab Anti-Mall and peruse the alternative wares within. Vicki scored an Urban Outfitters grey and blue striped military-style peplum jacket at Khris’s urging. Buffalo Exchange also yielded slouchy trousers for Aida, an asymmetrical jacket for myself, and super-cool gray Converse sneaks for Claire. Team Wear gained a star player when Claire laced herself in and claimed those shoes before we’d even reached the register! The sales associate was even nice enough to scan the price tag right from Claire’s foot.
We made another quick stop at Urban Outfitters, and then we settled in for dessert and some final bonding time at the mall’s Gypsy Den Café. It seems like we must have talked about everything under the sun – from posing techniques, to kids, to the differences between cobblers and crumbles. We all knew the weekend was winding down, but we lingered before bidding farewell to Khris, Vicki, and Marley.
Claire, Aida, AJ, and I, still unwilling to let our time together end, made one last trip: as a truly fitting YLF Weekend Finale, AJ and Aida scoured the boot selection at DSW while Claire and I braved Metro Point’s Nordstrom Rack. Despite the fabulous array of discounted bags, citron and orange scarves, and adorable shoes, we did not find any perfect items before I had to seriously get myself in gear, onto the 405, and into bed for work the next day.
As I rode off into the sunset, all I could think was how lucky our visiting trio was to have shared a hotel room and maximized their time. I didn’t know when I would see these ladies again – I still don’t – but I know it can’t possibly be soon enough.
A lot of time has passed since that fateful weekend, but I still think of it often. Every time I snuggle into my F21 jacket, I know that I have fantastic YLF friends all over the country, from Alaska to Texas and beyond… and I smile to think that, someday, I’ll get to meet even more of them.