I just got home from the nicest evening out I've had in, well, I can't remember when. I've lived in this area for 17 years. I raised my kids, met my husband, got married (again), sent two sons on missions, put on or participated in 4 kids' weddings, celebrated the arrival of 4 grandchildren, and will soon rejoice in the arrival of another. The one thing I've really not done in all these years of living here? Had any really good girlfriends. I mean, I've had good friends, but they didn't live here. In my area. In my state. I've had acquaintances, I've had friends sort of, but not the kind of friends you can sit at dinner with for hours and discuss anything and everything from life's disappointments to Glen Beck. (Bad example because for a lot of us life's disappointments and Glen Beck are one and the same) But you know what I mean. No judging, no putting your best face forward, just real discussion. Compassion, sympathy, laughing, joy in the great time you're sharing. Joy in the Diet Cokes. That's the kind of time I had tonight, and it's been a long time coming.
Probably mostly my fault. I'm not a joiner. My daughter in law and I were discussing this the other night. It's hard for us to imagine that others have as hard a time reaching out as we do. We tend to sit back and wait for everyone else to make the gesture, and when they don't we feel hurt. It's only (lately) when I've realized this about myself, and have made a conscious effort to smile the first smile or say the first word that I've seen people respond. Because I've been nice, and I've been friendly. I haven't been that sulky person who looks like she might not be nice if you talked to her. (Shy people look like that a lot, you know - it's smoke and mirrors. It's a defense.) I told Ronna that I'd been having some good results and that I felt happier, but I'm still a work in progress. (Aren't we all...) We agreed we'd both try to do this and work to improve ourselves to a point that it felt comfortable. We are envious of Katie who does this in a seemingly effortless, fearless way. I've never known Katie to be without friends for more than 5 or 10 minutes.
Anyway, my point is that it's too bad it took me 17 years to figure this out. But I'm glad I figured it out. Our girlfriends are a wonderful support. They get it. They understand what a unique thing it is to be a woman, and how crazy and wonderful it can be. Husbands are irreplaceable - L gets me in a way that no one else does - but every so often I do wish he were more girl-like. And that's where the girlfriends come in. It was great to get out and laugh and discuss life's absurdities, problems, and fears with ladies who are sympatico. I'm tired and it's late. But I feel refreshed. And I can't wait to do it again.