NoFo Winery Part Deux was the name of the invitation for the Facebook event sent by a client of mine whom I’ve become really good friends with for a few years now. My initial thought was, “it’s like an invite to a birthday party, but for moms with wine & cheese. Plus, NO KIDS for an entire day! Hell yeah, count me in!”
It only took a few seconds for me to click the button that declared that I would be able to go despite the fact that most of us on the guest list hadn’t met at least one or more of the other ladies invited. The only thing we knew was that we were connected in one way or another and were up for an adventure.
We were all friends of a friend with one common goal: to have a fun day out sans kids while enjoying all the fine wines that Long Island had to offer.
Living out East on the Island (a little local slang for you) allows me the convenience of being close to a lot of amazing outdoor events. Being just 25 miles away from the Northfork definitely has its advantages and makes for an easy day trip if needed. Sure, I’ve experienced my fair share of going out East with my own family, but I’ve never gone with a group of girls and NEVER being kid free so my excitement was a bit more elevated.
Now that my children are older, I’m rediscovering who I am outside of just being a mommy and I’m beginning to dip my toes back into having a bit of independence + a social life.
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As a thirty-freaking-four-year-old woman, I never imagined that I’d still be at that awkward stage in life having to make new friendships. But as life would have it, we all know that some relationships change and our need for specific types of friendships evolve over the years. Once children are added to the mix, Fuhgeddaboudit – you can kiss your social life and your non-child having friendships goodbye! I can’t speak for others, but that’s been my experience for the most part. And although I’m still friends with a few of my childhood girlfriends, the fact is that we don’t speak to each other daily and when we do connect it’s more like a quarterly quick phone call or text message to catch up. In between that time, all we have are our Facebook interactions to keep up with everyone’s family life.
I have quite a rather large network of friends and know my fair share of people, but for the most part, I am definitely a homebody. I spend about 90% of my time at home with my husband and kids or stuck behind my computer screen working. For the past eight years, my life pretty much has revolved around child rearing and being a work-at-home-mom. That’s it. Days, weeks, even months can go by without me having any ‘me time’ but within the past year, I have made it a point to carve out some time for myself to practice self-care. With that, I challenged myself to try building new bonds with girlfriends that actually “get” this stage of life that I’m currently in.
Flash forward to the epic day of getting wasted kid-free (just kidding), I struggled with the idea of whether or not to bring my camera along for the journey. Considering that it had been such a busy few weeks leading up to the trip + finally getting back into the groove of things after the back to school bustle, I felt like I was well overdue for a much-needed break. You know finally a chance to let my hair down, kick back and relax and have a good ol’ time laughing with amazing women. I wanted to be present and not worry about feeling pressured to capture any specific moments, yet I also felt torn about not bringing my camera with me.
After much debate, I decided to charge up my batteries, polished up my lenses and inserted two freshly formatted memory cards into my camera. What helped me in my decision was recognizing that photography is just a part of who I am. It’s part of my identity not because I feel obligated to take pictures for anyone, but because I have a deep desire to take them for myself. It’s how I connect with the world and share my experiences with others from my own perspective. I knew that this trip was either bound to be the beginning of something amazing or a memory to check off the bucket signifying that I’ve been there, done that and tried something a bit out of my comfort zone. Whichever the result, there was no way I was going to forgo capturing it to have as a keepsake.
We spent the entire day out from 10am to 8pm and had a pretty awesome time. It was really great hanging out, shooting the breeze and laughing so hard that my cheeks were hurting. I’m so glad that I took my camera along with me and documented such a cool trip. I had a blast hanging with these ladies and I can’t wait for part 3. We definitely should get around to planning it…
Writing and photography from Eboni Rivera.
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About Eboni Rivera: “I’m a hugger” is what you’ll hear the very first time we meet. I’ve got a really big smile and greet people with a kiss on the cheek because shaking hands just feels way too formal. Over the years, I’ve practiced a variety of photography genres but documentary is the one that speaks to my heart. I think the best photographs are the ones with a story behind it – the kind that immediately brings you back to that specific time and place, no matter how long ago it happened. For me, it’s all about the memories and feelings of nostalgia that you get when you look back on your photographs that make them so incredibly special.