I have great friends. In fact, my peeps are the most fabulous people I’ve ever known. That’s why I begged and bribed and cajoled them to associate with me. I have good taste, after all. My circle of girls is unique and funny and brilliant. They give great presents and remember my kids’ birthdays. They write and sew and travel. They take kick-ass pictures and whip up chocolate pound cakes and can banter with boys. If you really think about it, I got the better deal. I never remember their birthdays. I can’t even remember their addresses. I’m always at the post office balancing a care package in my arms, texting things like “do you still live on Cresent Avenue?” or “do you still hyphenate your name?” I usually get some response like “uh, no. I lived there in college eighteen years ago” or “I got divorced, remember?”
Maintaining friendships is difficult, especially when you have a husband and a chatty mother and evening routines that involve baths and reading and kids with ear infections. I believe this is what prompted Hollywood to produce trashy television. And cell phones. And silly, fruity drinks. Without girlfriends, who has a use for such things? Texting has been a real boon to friendships, because you can text someone you haven’t seen in a year to let them know that you are currently seeing more under-eye wrinkles and perhaps you should try botox. No one texts back and says “oh my gosh how’ve you been?” or “so how are those kiddos?” or “still got hemorrhoids?” They simply text you back with the best eye cream on the market and tell you to hold off injecting your face with toxins. See? That’s maintenance. One friend just sends random photos with no explanation, like a mountain or a picture of her kid wearing a cape or a slice of cherry pie.
I need to do better at showing my friends how much they mean to me. Husbands are great – they are fun to have around and are interesting to talk to during dinner. They do things like “support the family” and provide “love, loyalty, and wisdom” and all that jazz. But when you really want to know who Justin Timberlake is hooking up with or what Jennifer Aniston’s house looks like and you forgot to buy this month’s People magazine, men are completely useless. Also, they don’t like to talk at length about hairstyles or the sugar content in yogurt or other really important things that a modern woman needs to know. And when it comes to being sad – heartbroken and dejected and can’t eat or cry or sleep type of sad – you just need to hear the voice of your BFF, saying you’re not a bad mother and you are so totally skinny and let’s go eat nachos.
You know when you’ve met a friend that will stick. That kind of person that instantly makes you laugh and seems to roll their eyes at the same things you do and isn’t sensitive to sarcastic comments about their t-shirt (for future reference, the old navy, patriotic flag shirt you got for five bucks in 2002 is not acceptable to wear in public. It’s questionable for working out. Possibly okay for gardening. I’d defer to your husband on whether you should sleep in it). Friendship is all about chemistry. You just fit or you don’t.
Sometimes you try really hard because you want it to work. You meet for lunch and you have common interests and this new person obviously sees the value in great shoes. Or they look on the outside like you’d fit together, being all zen and yoga and blond and hip. But after stilted conversation and awkward pauses, you must move on. Or meet in groups. Or just make a silent, unspoken pact to talk about one common thing, like your kid’s school or books or your rotten, cruel bosses. I have one friend that all we talk about is kids. The moment we start asking about each other or politics or celebrities, the air becomes thick and stale. So we revert to talking about time-out strategies and how to minimize whiny talk and the breeze starts to flow through the shiny sky yet again. Focus on the strengths, people.
I think the reason I cherish my friends so much is that I value their contribution to the world. Each of them has such unique gifts. And they give so much of themselves. I have one friend who acts as if her sole job on this earth is to support me. Once, after reading my novel six (million) times and giving me feedback, she then proceeds to text me and asks how my husband’s trial went and if my daughter had a good birthday. How does she know these things? She’s an attorney with two grown kids of her own. How can she possibly care that much about my life and remember all these details? I can’t even remember her recent hair color! I called her once on her anniversary, when she and her husband were out for pre-dinner cocktails in Washington, D.C., to whine about some minor, trivial thing, and she just walked out of the restaurant like it was the most natural thing ever in order to listen and convince me that it (whatever it was) would all be okay. It’ll work out, she said. Trust me.
I could write pages upon pages about how special my friends are. How much they add to my life. How many ways they enrich my soul. How lonely I’d be without them around. I try and remember to tell them, but I’m too self-focused to always do so. So here’s to you, BFFs in my little section of the world. Husbands and kids are great, but nothing adds sparkle to life like girlfriends.
Best friends forever. Unless you insist on wearing that old navy t-shirt. Then, you’re on double secret probation.