I spent far too much of the first half of my life being upset that I didn’t have “more friends.” I never fit in with a clique in high school, and lamented the fact that I didn’t play field hockey so I could be popular and be on the homecoming court like those girls, though they were usually nice to their dorky newspaper editor, often letting me sit at their lunch table. In college, I felt left out because I refused to rush a sorority, spending more of my time in the newspaper editor’s office working on the school paper, or hiding in the college mascot uniform. When you suffer from social anxiety issues, being around a crowd of people, especially women, is not a situation you seek out. The life of a reclusive writer suits me fine.
The one-hand rule is something I’ve learned to follow and appreciate as I have entered the second half of my life. If I can count my excellent women friendships on one hand, I’m not only okay with that, but grateful. I wish I’d had this wisdom in the first half of my years. I don’t need 12 or 15 women friends; more like five. They don’t always live in close proximity, so they aren’t always the same five; it’s a fluid number. Even with women who live close by, some may be busy at times and I may not see them a lot but I know they’re in that “top five” zone in my mind and my heart.
I even have a “friendship ball” I share with one friend who lives in another state. We’ve been friends since we met when our oldest daughters, now 22, were six weeks old. We both moved when they were in second grade, and we still see each other every few years. One of us (I forget who, probably her) found a silver hollow ball, about the size of a grapefruit, that’s this “friendship ball” you can mail back and forth, and you fill it with little treats and send it for birthdays or just random occasions. It’s cute, sometimes we forget to do it, but getting it in the mail is one of the coolest feelings ever.
It’s the level and closeness of the friendship that’s what is important at this stage in my life. I don’t need surface friends to go to jewelry or other parties where you buy stuff. I hate wearing makeup, don’t have cute outfits to put together with matching shoes, and always end up saying the completely wrong thing in those social situations anyway. I’d much rather go to the Truck Stop (it’s a local Maryland Eastern Shore thing) or some remote diner with a friend where I can wear a baseball hat and no one recognizes me.
Then, as close girlfriends do, we can just chat forever, laugh, cry if needed, gossip, drink too much coffee, talk about our husbands and kids, and say we need to do this more often. Sometimes this whole scenario can be replaced by a happy hour, but then I don’t get to wear the baseball hat and I have to think about at least some mascara, jeans and lip gloss. Of course, a movie might then also be involved, and I love the movies.
In an ironic chick-twist, women also need close women friends because other women can be colossal bitches. Who was it who said there’s nothing worse than women treating other women like shit? That wasn’t the exact quote, but you get my drift. She was right, and it can truly be mind-blowing, so we need our circle of sister-friends to be there for us for advice, support, perfectly-timed humor and hugs.
I’m thankful for my close women friendships. Life will always keep throwing lemons our way, but these women are there not just to make lemonade, but to add the vodka and make Lemon Drop Martinis.