So this is a love note of sorts. Been feeling very grateful lately for the really amazing girlfriends I'm so lucky to have. This handful of super-special women is a mixed bag of very different personalities; a kindergarten-teaching Utah MILF; a gorgeous, whip-smart, RU marketing undergrad; a wanderlusty struggling artist-turned Oregon housewife; a sweet-hearted veteran NYC actress with a knack for great chats; a bike-riding hippie math tutor; a wacky musical theater gal with a terrifying Britney Spears impression; an ambitious Chilean-born L.A. hottie; an adorably pint-sized world traveler who always knows where the party is, a *Snatched Alabama boy transplanted in all his fabulocity to the big city (Note: gay besties count as girlfriends). They are my True Blue girlfriends, the shiny stars of my universe, and every day I love and learn from them, even when we're apart.
You see, I've always been friends with boys, but I can count on two hands the number of real girl friends I've had. It was never a deliberate choice, it just seemed to end up that way; me and a bunch of boys. Boys were easier. You get along ok, share an interest, and so you're friends. You hang out when you can, and when you don't, nobody worries about it. You talk when you talk, you see each other when you see each other, and that's enough to maintain a lasting, “brother-from-another-mother”-strength friendship. Its incredibly low on drama; nobody gets their panties in a bunch about anything, unless its very extreme, in which case somebody gets socked in the mouth, which is considered fair by both parties, and after a couple of days of radio silence, you're back at the bar having a beer together and bygones are bygones. Its legitimately, genuinely over.
Women (excepting the True Blues) are different. Let me rephrase: women are DIFFICULT. In looking at the relationships with my female friends that have lasted, and those that have fizzled/faded/exploded in mind-numbing spectacle, I feel like there must be a common thread. I've spent the last 3 hours wading through the murky swamp of girlfriendship and boiled it down to two lists: 3 Things That Make Girlfriends Work and 4 Surefire Signs Someone Isn't A True Blue.
Things That Make Girlfriends Work:
So I've recently gone through a breakup. I'm going to dispense with the details of why and how and all the blubbering, because its all beside the point. In short, it was almost a year, which is a pretty good run for me, and it was with a genuinely good guy, who was almost perfect for me, but not quite, and whom I was definitely not perfect for. Definitely, hah, listen to me. I don't know. I've got a lot of I don't knows right now. I'm writing this today because I have to share a letter I read a few months ago and saved, rather stupidly, for a rainy day. I should've shared it sooner, but I'm busy and lazy and forgot about it, so you're getting it now, when my heart is all messed up, and I'm trying to pick through the pieces of why it happened.
As a very lucky child of the endangered species of still-married parents, I grew up believing in the inevitability of eventually pairing off in a permanent way with some person I would call “husband” and begetting offspring (you see how desirable I currently find this idea). While their marriage was, like all marriages, imperfect, it was also wonderful and loving and full of happiness (and sadness and yelling and everything). They are, as far as I'm concerned, a pretty impressive example of two people sharing a life. They will celebrate their 29th wedding anniversary this coming January and I think this is attributed to two factors. One, they believe (really, in an old-school way) in the vows they made: for better or worse, until death do them part. Truly, I think it would have been more likely for one of them to kill the other than get a divorce. This may seem extreme to some, inexplicable, a question of why stay together when you're unhappy. My parents' response would be simply that they promised to. This is incredibly infuriating from a debate standpoint, because you can't argue it (believe me), but it is exactly this resolve that I find so admirable, and so damn effective. They are a wall. They are Stonewall Jackson, baby.
Which brings us right around to factor two, and this letter I mentioned, which makes me cry. A father writes to his son about “the only good reason to get married”. He says the worst mistake people make is getting married because they think its going to make them happy. NO! He says that's a ticket to a sure divorce. “Marriages become beautiful when two people embrace the only good reason to get married: to practice the daily sacrifice of their egos.” And then he deals: “your ego is the part of you that protects your heart.” You go through life and when you get hurt you build a wall around your heart so its safe, but when you find your person, you commit to a lifetime of taking down the walls for each other. And its there in that open, vulnerable, visible place that you are free, wholly yourself and totally connected to another person. In that, you're in bliss. Its reminiscent of what spiritual leader Eckhart Tolle describes as “no mind”, moments when the mind chatter finally rests because you're in a state of open trust. I have memories from my childhood, vivid in my mind, of what that looks like. My mom's face, my dad's sigh and shake of the head and smile; I watched it happen and felt the peace spread through the room. Its a surrendering, a sacrifice of pride, and its HARD, and its only possible when you know the other person is taking their wall apart for you too. This mutual kneeling, which happened in each of them, and not always at the same time, is what made their marriage. I think without knowing it, my parents have been dismantling their ego walls with each other for three decades.
These feel like the keys to the kingdom. Looking back over this relationship and ones from the past I see moments where I stayed behind a half-built wall, unwilling to make the effort to take it all down. And I remember moments when he did too. And the trouble is that each little refusal builds exponentially like a storm, mirrored and repeated back from the enemy camp. Unless both parties are taking an active part in deconstruction, the trust, the relationship stalls. I'm young, there's time, and as I put this piece of the puzzle into place, I feel relieved, like this lesson is a big one, if I can learn it.
So for myself, I look for “someone willing to embrace the beauty of sacrifice, the surrender of their strength and the peril of vulnerability. In other words, someone who wants to spend their one life stepping into a crazy, dangerous love with [me].” Great. Now where do you find THAT guy?
This blog is about the things that move me as an artist, musician, human, woman, friend, sister, daughter, American, New York City resident, Primal Blueprint follower, yoga practitioner, shoe-lover, dog-lover, cupcake-lover and fascinated observer of the human condition.