Thursday, September 30, 2010

The more the merrier

I've been thinking a lot about friendships lately.

My dearest friend's 7-year-old granddaughter is having some issues on the playground. She can't quite understand how her best friend can be her best friend one day and completely ignore her the next.

"That's just rude, Gram. And it hurts my feelings."

It's tough being a girl. Women are difficult creatures. We desperately need each other but we push each other away, claw and snap and bitch, and talk behind each other's backs.

My friend assured her granddaughter that "one day" she'd find that one true best friend:
"Really, Gram? You promise?"
"I promise."

I told my friend that I thought that had been a terrible promise to make (we're honest like that). I'm not sure I really believe in the notion of a best friend anymore, although lately (and here's the truly ironic part) I feel I am in some of the healthiest relationships of my life. The notion of That One True Best Friend--the promise that little girl is holding out for--puts a whole lot of pressure on her and especially on the girls around her. No one person should be responsible for being every thing to anyone.

That little girl may be so busy looking for that One Girl that she may miss out on all the ones skipping happily around her on the playground.

* * *

In spite of the fact that most people would probably describe me as very outgoing, I've actually spent most of my life being somewhat anti-social. Growing up, I was never accepted into any of the Cliques Of The Moment, and more often than not, I'd find somebody who was "like me" (read: a little too loud or a little too dramatic or a little too awkward or a little too whatever I happened to be at the time) and I'd latch on. I'd found her: my friendship soulmate! And eventually, as is almost always inevitable with females, she'd screw me over. There was Marilyn in 3rd grade, who one day came back from lunch and abruptly and silently pulled her desk a few inches away from mine and refused to speak to me. I remember Lena, in middle school, who decided hanging out with "the other girls" was way cooler than hanging out with me (she was probably right). The list goes on and on. I realize there were probably many times that I, too, had disappointed them...I don't doubt that I said something completely inappropriate to Marilyn that day at lunch, but couldn't she have told me what that something was?

What I've come to realize over the last couple of years is that all that time I spent excluding everyone else to be with my One True Best Friend, I had missed out. A lot. On people, outings, experiences, adventures, life lessons.

I now find myself surrounded by a lot of really remarkable women...some I had pushed aside for years because I simply "didn't have the time" to spend with them. I am more open, less judgmental, and having a whole heck of a lot more fun. My "collection" of girlfriends are all incredibly different: with some I can discuss, in great details, Marc Jacobs's personal make-over...others shop "exclusively" at Walmart and Target. For some of my friends, sweating is restricted to dancing and sex...others are game for anything from a 5k to a full-out adventure race. I would not call any one of these women my Best Friend. I know who I can call in the middle of the night when my kid is running a fever of 105. I know who I can call when I'm desperate for a night of dancing and drinks. Some of these women know secrets about me that the rest of the world would be shocked to know. Others, I'm just starting to truly trust.

Today, I "asked a girl out." Well, that's what it felt like, anyway. I recently started to talk to someone at work who seems to be so amazingly interesting and intelligent and just plain "cool," that I stepped out of my old comfort zone and, after 30 minutes of chatting about designer galoshes, world-wide travel, Christian Louboutins, mamas' boys, marriage and children, I decided to make a plan to get together next week. This may seem like a totally normal thing to do. But for me, it felt foreign. This woman may become one of my girls. Or, perhaps we will get together and have absolutely nothing to talk about (although after that 30-minute-all-inclusive-chat, I doubt it!). But the point is that I have finally figured out that I don't need one Best Friend. I need lots of really fantastic friends. I am no longer disappointed, because I don't put all my eggs in one basket. I have lots of baskets, and I'm skipping happily around with them on the playground.


  1. This is such a great post. I have very similar struggles with friendship and still struggle with that "where's my ya-ya's" concept. (Seriously....I want some Ya-Ya's). I am just too loud and obnoxious and socially inept in all the wrong ways. Sigh. But, I have learned to embrace all the wonderful friendships in my life. Like you said, they are all different.
    That's not to say that I still dream about being old with some Ya-Ya's. I really think Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are meant to be my besties. Just kidding.

  2. Oh, this is so right ... my daughter (also 7) is having friend issues as well, lots of mean girl-ish behavior, surprising (to me) cliquishness. I am shocked by how early it starts, and by how plain mean girls can be.
    Also, my best friend and I have the two halves of that necklace you showed! :)

  3. Good for you! It is often so scary to go out on that uncomfortable limb, yet, more often than not, it is worth the risk...So happy you are taking the opportunities as they come!

  4. As usual, you've nailed it. What we need is too much to be encompassed by one Best Friend. Too bad we didn't learn that lesson much earlier in life.

  5. You cover a lot of really important ground in this post--it's awesome. I also think it's incredibly brave of you to still be seeking new relationships/friendships. I've sort of given up. Maybe you'll inspire me to hold out a little longer. :)

  6. I have nothing wise or interesting to say except that I so, so get what you're saying here. I bet we would have been pals back in our school days (except I never would have moved my desk far away from yours). I hope you'll let us know how your girl date goes next week. :)

  7. BRILLIANTLY WRITTEN LIZ!!!!!! Again!!!!

    Female friendships can be hard.

    I have lots of friends and have never really had one best friend - and I'm glad about that really. I also have groups of friends with whom I discuss different things and have differing levels of intimacy - you wrote about that so beautifully, it was spot on. I feel I need that, I think as you get older (and a little more experienced friendship-wise), I think you know who you can trust with what information - and also what YOU need from the friendship.

    I am SO glad that my 9 yr old daughter is a "group" girl which so far - with the nature of some of the girls in her class - has spared her no end of heartache. She has been friends with a fairly large group of girls since she started school at age 5 and so far so good. There is definitely bitchiness and meanness going on in her class though, UGH, it is beyond horrible :(

    I am so glad that you agreed with my comment about "Eat, Pray, Love" - the fact that you thought it too makes me feel so much better LOL! I loved the book and think I sort of knew that the movie might not be great - I think there was just too many complexities in the books, too much substance - and it just wasn't in the movie - at all. It's impossible to not like Julia Roberts and Javier Bardem is GORGEOUS....I was so disappointed with the "India" part of the movie though, to me that was probably the best part of book. Oh well. I will order "Committed" though - let me know what you think of it when you finish it.

    Loved your comment over at mine today - nope, she doesn't have two small children LOL!!

    Happy Week-end Liz xx

  8. Love it! ;o) There are friends who will pull over for "Dick's" and friends that will...well, not!

  9. This reminds me of that forward that goes around now and again about the circle of women and how each woman is different type of friend, etc. You've said it much better than I can right now.

    Also - eavesdropping here, but I loved "Committed" much more than "Eat. Pray. Love." Just fyi. ;)

  10. So well written and so timely for me this year.
    I seem to be having a year of feeling alone, with certain friendship's changing and moving on.
    I know I need to push myself to get out there and surround myself with a wider range of friends as you have mentioned above.
    Its hard being a stay at home Mum, or even a working Mum.
    No one talks about the isolation and lonliness of Motherhood.
    My 8 year old daughter has also experienced a "nasty" girl this year. It is very upsetting to witness.
    Tends to push my buttons as we have all been theree.
    Thanks for keeping it real and enjoy your date!

  11. So funny that you posted this at the same time I was writing my 20 year reunion post... so many similarities. And you are SO right. There really is no such thing as a Best friend in my world. I "use" each of my friends for something different. And where one friend lacks, another picks up the slack. And it works. And I'm happy that way. I'd be happier if I could actually see my friends more often but... xo

  12. Yeap! It's much more fun to have a small group of girlfriendS in the playground than just one that can let you down. xoxo Making friends is always fun! Have fun on your "date"! KB

  13. I love that you see the beauty in all your different friends. And oh, I remember the 7 year old "she is my best friend, oh I don't like her" merry go rounds. Loved this post, Liz!

  14. That is a great post but think about it. You have this wonderful site and have so much to share with your readers. Your new friend is going to be delighted she has met you and that she has been able to spend time with someone who is so much fun and insightful. Enjoy!

  15. Hey Liz!
    Mercy told me about your blog and I just checked it out. This is great!!!
    You've inspired me to start one myself. Well, maybe.....
    This blog abut going out on a limb really hits the spot.
    If I commit to the blog I set up I would love for you to check it out.
    Would love to be as brave as you and share with friends, old and new.


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