I had dinner the other night with one of my very best girlfriends (and oldest, in terms of how long I’ve known her – we met in the sixth grade). For close to three decades, she’s been a source of inspiration and motivation for me: strong, confident, bold, never afraid to take chances, always grabbing life by the throat and choking as much out of it as she can. She was my first trombone instructor, my running mate in the French Club presidential election, my co-planner of the Clue dinner theater party that our high-school friends seemed less than enthusiastic about (to this day I can’t fathom why). She was the outspoken, take-no-prisoners yang to my reserved, pacify-the-masses yin.
She is visiting from Tucson, which means that by this time next week, she’ll be thousands of miles away. I so wish she were one of my grab-coffee friends, my playdate-with-the-kids friends, my once-a-month girls’ night friends. Thank God we have Skype.
We were joined for dinner by another friend of hers – her college roommate, with whom I’m only casually acquainted. My friend described to us a “strong women” group she runs back in Tucson that brings women together once a month to bond, share, and experiment in the arts. Then she asked each of us whether we had any close girlfriends. Her college roommate looked a little wistful when she said that no, she really didn’t. She works at a pre-school, runs a farm with her husband, and frankly doesn’t have the time or energy for a social life.
My friend turned to me and asked the same question. I didn’t hesitate for a moment. “I have lots,” I said.
It amazes me to think about the incredible network of women in my life. The college friend I met my first night at Pitt when she asked if she could stick a chair in my room; my high school friend who lives a mile away and, no matter how long we go without seeing each other, makes me feel like we just talked last week; the moms I met back when my 7-year-old started Gymboree as a baby, and who still get together for girls’ nights and kids’ birthday parties; my bookclub, with whom I’ve been sharing stories and insights into life and literature for the past seven years; my writers’ group of talented authors from Chatham (two with whom I had the opportunity to travel to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island last summer); my neighbor who invites me for coffee and before we know it, three hours have flown by; my former coworker and fellow writer who splits her time between the US and Korea, and is an astute sounding board for both motherhood and writing. And that’s just skimming the surface. And I haven’t even touched on family.
I very much believe in quality over quantity in all things, and am in no way trying to brag about the friend list I have amassed over the years. Rather, I’m writing this as a letter of thanks to all the truly great friends who have chosen to stay in my life, who have stood by me through all things, who I know I could call in a heartbeat if ever I needed a thing. And I’m so grateful to my “yang” for reminding me of this blessing.
I hope you all have at least one girlfriend (or guy friend) who falls into this category for you. For truly, one is all you need. I’m pinching myself for being blessed with so much more.