From childhood through my late 20s, I was the kind of girl that preferred the company of boys and men. I wasn’t really a tomboy, but I would rather hang out in the living room with my boy cousins and all my uncles watching football than sitting in the kitchen with all the ladies. That may have been different if I’d had girl cousins my age, but in the absence of a female partner-in-crime, I generally stuck with the guys.
My best friend in preschool was a boy. I still have a number of close guy friends from high school. In college, I lived with my boyfriend and his two male roommates. I ate meals with them (quite often straight out of a pan), helped to soundproof their band’s practice space, and published a punk rock fanzine with them.
In hindsight, I wonder if my social anxiety played a part in my avoidance of groups of girls and women. I often found them intimidating. Men tend to be more than happy with a surface-level depth to their friendships. “Wait, you like drinking beer and listening to Nirvana?! Me too!” and suddenly they’re friends. Being friends with women, on the other hand, generally requires more presence and participation.
But, something changed as I got older and had children. Suddenly, I had this connection with other women that went far beyond the watching-football-together friendship I had with the guys. I even felt more connected with my mother and grandmother, even though they’d both died before I had Biggie, simply because we’d shared the same experiences, albeit in different times. I think one of the reasons my female friends are so important to me is because I don’t have my mom to lean on for advice about all the things she experienced before I did…being married, being a mother, facing the horrors of having teenagers and of entering middle age. Not that I would have taken her advice, of course.
I now have the most amazing group of women friends any gal could ask for. I’m still very close with my best friend from grade school and high school though we now live on different coasts. My law school friends are friends for life. And, I couldn’t function without my “sister-wife” who I’m so lucky to have living right next door. It’s pretty unusual, but I didn’t meet the majority of my closest friends until after college, some in just the last few years.
There are just some things only your girl friends will do for you. They hold your hair back when you puke and have your back when someone treats you like crap. They’ll listen to your most intimate questions and tell you it’s totally normal (or not, and tell you to get your ass to the doctor!). They won’t judge you when you feed your kids mac n’ cheese for the 4th night in a row or when you pour a glass of wine at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. They’ll know you’re kidding when you say you want to murder your spouse or kids or mother-in-law, but if you actually did murder someone, they’d totally help you hide the body.
This past weekend, my friend D had me and a group of other friends up to her family lake house for a girls’ get-away. I’d met a couple of the others just briefly in the past, but I wouldn’t say I knew them well. The rest of the ladies, I’d never met before. We did things that men typically do when they get together, like drinking far too much, playing hilarious and potentially offensive card games, talking about work (or lack thereof) poking the logs in the fireplace and sitting on the deck staring contentedly at the lake.
But, we did other things I just can’t imagine the guys doing. We cooked and ate delicious meals including salads and desserts, not just charred meat on the grill, we watched ‘Dirty Dancing’ (oh yes we did), we hung out in the hot tub, read trashy magazines, laughed until we cried and even did a little painting, which I hadn’t done since art school. By the end of the weekend, we’d discussed everything from the challenges of raising a child with autism to our preferred method for bikini-area landscaping. We bonded fast and hard. Seriously, it was like a really swank sleep-away camp. And, I loved every girlie minute of it!