more on friends and friendships

I spoke the other day about navigating friendships and wanting to be a part of a group. I’m not and for whatever reasons, probably never will be.

So, it’s the individual relationships that deserve my attention.

One of the things that many of my female friends are saying these days is, “I want to choose a few women who I really value having in my life and nurture those relationships…consciously, carefully, and with love.”

I don’t know if it’s an age thing or a pandemic thing or just wisdom speaking, but the women who have declared this as their truth are the women who inspire me and make me feel complete in who I am.

I am accepted and loved.

The funny thing is that these are primarily women who I aspire to be like, yet feel as if I’ve got a very long way to go to achieve that aspiration; I am not in their league.

The writers, the healers, the teachers. The women who move through motherhood with grace while also accepting their parenting failures with honesty, humility, and humor.

These are the women who feed us all, fight for the planet, for our community, for our children.

They love their children and the earth equally and unabashedly. Some even share my passion for the desert.

They are my Red Dirt Girls.

Well, except for one. She declared a few years ago, “I don’t care about being near wilderness – it’s not my thing. Give me a park with some grass and a bike trail and I am happy.”

To her I say, “You be you honey and I love you all the more for NOT fitting into the mold.”

These women are wise.

These women are compassionate.

These women are kind, ethical, integrous, and passionate.

They are willing and able to be raw, vulnerable, honest, and exposed.

They are funny; in a lighthearted way and, in a laugh-at-the-funeral sort of way.

Some of them know each other. Some of them love each other. Some have no idea who the other is.

When I had small children, friendships seemed so easy, so effortless. Every day I’d get up, feed everyone, then figure out a way to share the day with other moms and thier kiddos. It made for natural intimacy.

But with time, the commonality of overwhelm-by-toddler shifts into football and jobs and carpooling. As paths cross less frequently and lives veer off in different directions, just “being” no longer feeds that intimacy at a steady pace.

One has to actually make the effort. A skill not readily at my fingertips.

It means phone calls and plans and driving and commitment.

All of which I am resistant to.

A lifetime of emotional turmoil of navigating relationships with girls, understanding loyalty and security, has given me insight into what makes for a good friend and what makes for a disposable one.

This insight must also be applied to me. I must impart this wisdom upon myself and act on it. I do not want to be disposable.

When the phone rings, I struggle to answer, but I am forcing myself to pick up the handset and say, “Hello.”

When someone tries to make plans in advance, I tell myself, promise actually, that I will not back out at the last minute. That one is surprising many who have come to expect that I will automatically be a no-show.

I am learning to say no to TAM sometimes because I have plans with one of my gals. This is a big one for me; I am historically the one who puts the boyfriend before the girlfriends. Fortunately, for the very first time in my life, I have a partner who supports these actions and doesn’t make girls’ night all about him.

As much as putting energy into freindships exhausts me, as much as reaching out goes against my natural inclinations, I am attempting to step out of my comfort zone because I understand that to get anything out of a friendship, I’ve got to put something into it.

And, be it pandemic or age or wisdom, I grasp that the time is now, because I am currently surrounded by women who are magnificent and inspiring, and if I want to continue to be surrounded by goddesses, I have to make them feel as if I actually care about them too.

Which I do.

Immensely.

And with gratitude.

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