The Surprise Weekend

When life tosses you an unexpected moment, you have a few options. Examine your possibilities, jump ship, or quickly come up with a plan and say yes without dwelling on the potential risks. I tend to live my life aligned with the last one. 

My good friend Alyssa and I had talked about getting away to Duluth, Minnesota, for some adventuring and rest. She invited her friend Brooke, who I had not previously met. Since I knew from Alyssa that she was a gem, I was stoked to hang with her.

All week I had been anticipating the three of us laughing, playing, and enjoying tasty food in Northern Minnesota. Friday morning came, and I had just finished packing for the trip. Alyssa called and didn’t sound like herself. Her voice was soft and held a little anxiety. She shared that she was feeling stressed, not feeling the greatest, and that her family needed some extra unexpected help that weekend. I empathized and listened and already felt bummed, assuming the trip was being called off. 

I, of course, reassured Alyssa that she had to do what was best for herself, to take care of her body, and to be with her family. I was ready to close the door on the weekend until she said, “But you and Brooke should still go.” 

I chuckled, and my eyes widened with possibility. “Yeah, that would make for quite the adventure and story,” I replied. 

Alyssa shared that she had asked Brooke previous to our call about her desire to go, and she too was “all in.” 

So we went forward with the plan for Brooke and me to meet up and drive north to spend the weekend galavanting around the North Shore. 

That evening I went to Brooke’s place to pick her up and was welcomed by her kind husband, Zach. He introduced himself, gave me a little “check ‘er out” look, and smiled. Brooke came into the room with a huge smile and a warm hug. She oddly reminded me of myself, and I felt comfortable with this arrangement, which was good because there was no backing out now. 

We hopped in my car and headed north. Along the way we shared stories, asked each other questions about likes and dislikes, laughed a ton, and talked about how crazy it was that we were going away for the weekend when we had just met. Oh, and we talked about missing Alyssa too, of course. 

When we arrived at our Airbnb, we settled in and enjoyed some good wine as we continued a relaxing conversation and made plans for the next day. There was something about Brooke’s personality that made the time so delightful and relaxing. I think it was the way she joked around and her kindness when she talked about people. She just was a good human with an adventurous spirit. 

The next day we ate a delectable brunch at a small-town cafe, walked around the downtown area, browsed boutique shops, ate the best-ever seafood lunch, and hiked on a short trail off the beaten path.

It was a day full of goodness and joy, beauty and laughter, and new friendship.

I felt full and content as we prepared to head home. 

During the car ride we spent time reminiscing about how we had met just 24 hours ago, yet it felt like we had known each other for a long time. The unexpected surprise weekend was a gift for both of us. 

There is something about a spontaneous hiccup in the plans that can turn out to be a delightful surprise. I fully embraced the possibility with my weekend away, and I walked away with a new, kind friend. And even though I live states away from Brooke, I am glad to say that we continue to cross paths here and there.

Sandhya Oaks is a ministry leader, spiritual director, writer, and speaker. She is fiercely committed to inviting people to curiosity and possibility through hosting Kintsugi Story Workshops and Story Retreats. She is one who brings light to dark places and invites others to courageously do the same. She is a Transracial Adoptee with Pakistani and Indian roots, and her joys include traveling, gathering around the table, and water sports. You can find more of her good work at