Sunday, September 4, 2016

Big Girl Friends

Somewhere between 30 and 40, something happened. It hadn't really happened more than a handful of times prior to 30... really. And it seems to be getting easier the older I get.

Friendship with women.

I've often said I didn't grow up with a lot of girlfriends, because I had my sisters and my mom. We grew up out of the city, and we all seemed to spend enough time together and then married, so there wasn't a great longing or need for more people or time for relationship. Friendships can take time... or do they need to? I've learned friendships, those that REALLY turn into those great friendships, don't take all that much sometimes.

There are those lovelies who can just walk in your kitchen and lend a hand or know where you keep the sugar, they can drop a magnet in the mail or a dish at your door, just because they know you would do the same.

So maybe it's the losses or maybe it's letting your guard down or maybe it's just not caring to be competitive. Maybe it's that when you aren't looking, you are found. I can't be sure. Maybe it's that getting older you realize that while you CAN be an island, that island is so much nicer and safer when it isn't in the sea all alone.

A mom at a birthday party last weekend said to a dozen 9 year old girls, "You can ALL be BFFs.". If you have a 9ish year old, it seems they have to have a BFF! Ug. I have said a million times how you can be friends with everyone and to say one is your BFF (best friend forever) may hurt another friend's feelings. You can have a BFF in every subject, all kinds of likes or family dynamics or subjects or sports or or or. You can have ALL kinds of friends, who love you for all kinds of reasons, and for all kinds of reasons you love them right back.

I am happy to have friends from back home, who have history with me or where we are from, who knew me before Chris or when we dated, who splashed in puddles and ran in creeks, who can reminisce about stories of the farm for sleepovers or of my parents and sisters, who know what Gooey Butter Cake is or got Cardinals tickets as kids for the Honor Roll, who can mushroom hunt, fish, garden and make a mean evening campfire, who gaze at stars with us and have gotten stuck in the snow together on freezing nights. Sisters who are always there and get you or that special back home friend who quietly sat on a shitty hospital couch for hours of labor, gets few quality hours with most visits, but you both cherish the quiet joy and comfort of their presence.

I am happy for military/police/foreign service friends, who understand that crazy expat part that few "get", who know what it's like to wait for your husband to come home safe, who understand service and are patriotic as hell (!), whose children become yours for a while, those who do laundry at your house, their kids come home with you on early school days or you kidnap their kids on packout days knowing they have more than enough on their plate.  Those worldly few you round up for impromptu trips to the beach or the aquarium or to hop to India or Rome, to pick flowers or seashells, who dance crazy in the street parades, adorn themselves in our home for Mardi Gras, scoop poop for your cats, give you their hamster to watch or meet you wherever you land. You mail them pearls or blankets, carvings and postcards, while they hand carry gems or plants, vanilla beans or coffee. These warriors have become a sacred tribe, the "village" as it were, which it often takes to raise a child (and we have a pair). They are surrogate aunties when many miles from home, who forever become family.

These last dozen years, friendships have been filled with tears for children coming into and children sadly leaving this Earth, for ailing parents and the loss of parents, for new loves and lost loves, tears for goodbyes, but also for wonderful hellos. These are those who look at you and see the hidden potential, your strengths, your fears, and pull your talents for the betterment of all those around you. They ask not "HOW are you?", but instead "how are YOU?", because often we don't stop to think how WE are.

These are other women juggling families and careers, who neither expect nor want (thank goodness) a parasitic relationship, but one in fleeting moments, genuinely shared and cherished, when the other can get back to it. We send photos and comments, well wishes and condolences... but with these ladies... we ALWAYS get back to it. Sometimes it's hours and sometimes it can even be years, but you find a way to find each other again... and it feels like no time has passed.

Some years we have the luxury of holidays together, sometimes we have a decade of only cards, but whether they are in front of you to hug or in the mail to read, your heart swells just the same... because you know you love them, and they mean oh so much to you.
Thank you my dearies!

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