Girlfriends

Girlfriends.  I’ve always loved the way the word sounds, even though it carries a certain kind of angsty baggage because despite slumber parties and hanging out and all the other things girls do, the intimacy required for besties felt foreign to me.  Growing up on a farm, miles from town, my two younger sisters were my friends.  I didn’t think of them as girlfriends, though — they were my sisters.  There were the girls down the road, but they weren’t girlfriends, they were neighbors.  When I look back at the young me, it’s clear what a solitary soul I was.  My best days were spent lolling in the hammock stretched between two big trees in my grandparents’ yard, reading a book, thinking my own thoughts, accidentally drifting into a nap, then combing the garden for ripe strawberries and tomatoes, checking the orchard for intruders, and generally sticking to whatever was required to avoid my mom’s eyes landing on me and assigning me a job.  I wonder what I thought I was going to do on the off-chance that I happened to flush a few snakes, possums, or cross-country bums out of the trees.
Grade school is kind of a blur.  I was a good student, friendly, happy, clueless.  There were other girls, of course, and I made friends … but I can’t think of any girlfriends who’ve carried over from those years if we’re talking people I’ve never lost touch with at any time and with whom I share my deepest secrets and feelings.  High school, with forty-seven of us in the entire place, meant fun, freedom and fraternity … and continued cluelessness.  College brought more of the same.  I was popular, I guess, if you want to gauge it by things like being elected cheerleader seven years in a row and serving as a lady-in-waiting in the Homecoming court, but none of that felt quite authentic to me.  I think it took me so long to realize that I could define my own life, I missed a lot of stuff on the way up.
Don’t get me wrong, I have great acquaintances, friends, women I look up to, respect, like, even love.  I’ve just somehow never truly been girlfriend material.  I don’t spill my guts easily, except with my sisters, and it’s always been hard for me to ask for help.   I went through a hellish time ten years ago and held most of it inside — not exactly refusing to share my grief, pain, and stress with other women, just not really knowing how.  And without that open-up-and-let-it-all-hang-out mechanism, it’s hard to be a girlfriend, let alone accumulate them.  To my likely discredit I move on easily, I don’t send Christmas cards, I tend not to do even the minimum amount of work necessary to hang onto relationships, the notable exceptions being marriage and family.
All of this to say that there are suddenly women in my life who represent the best of what I always pictured a girlfriend to be, and they’re incredible.  I’m probably still not going to be very good at the gut-spilling thing, but if I ever do it I know they’ll be there.  Life continues to surprise …

Sort of besties, except that we went to different schools and didn't see each other very much.

Sort of besties, except that we went to different schools and didn’t see each other very much.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Judy Smith
    Jan 29, 2013 @ 10:45:33

    Hmmm, past life. I grew up on a farm, went to college, married a farmer (despite every vow NOT to do that), was a stay-at-home mom, drove heavy farm equipment, worked at part-time jobs, dealt with the death of my husband in a farm accident, moved, worked at more part-time jobs, met Kim, got married again, and became a blogger. How’s THAT for condensing 65 years of life into a neat little nutshell?? I remember writing stories from the time I could form the letters, won a couple of writing awards in high school and college, then sort of went on hiatus until last year when my son and husband suggested blogging as a way to define myself once again. I’m loving it. Totally. And thanks for asking!!

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    • Judy Smith
      Feb 18, 2013 @ 16:43:10

      Oops! I also very recently spent two years as Administrative Assistant at the repertory theatre here in town (a dinner theatre) — the same place where my husband is now Kitchen & Bar Manager. Which includes planning all the meals and cooking them.

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  2. Miss Snarky Pants
    Jan 29, 2013 @ 10:20:55

    You do realize that this post presents itself as a challenge of sorts. Now you’re going to have dozens of women dedicated to the proposition of being your new best friend and teaching you that girlfriendship (yes, I know it’s not a real word, but this isn’t the real world…it’s the blogosphere) is something worth hanging onto.

    I totally get not sending Christmas cards. The idea makes my ass ache. Ugh. Do you write a message and then sign you and your hubby’s name or do you just sign it and worry that your friends will be offended by the briefness of your holiday well wishes? I think you have a blog post on that topic alone.

    You’re a really talented writer. What did you do in your past life…before you entered the blogosphere?

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  3. Judy Smith
    Jan 28, 2013 @ 08:21:56

    There’s an important bit of truth that’s missing from this piece, and that is that many girls and women over the years have been much better friends to me than I was to them. The unwillingness to connect is my problem, not theirs. Self-preservation is a massive cheater!!

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