I have never been the type of woman to have a lot of girlfriends. If you were to ask me I would tell you through my life my closest friends have been men. Because of my early relationship with my sister and my middle brother I just learned to trust boys more than girls. And then in school this idea was reinforced. There was less drama, less back stabbing, less nonsense. If a boy was mad at you he told you and told you exactly why, if a girl was mad at you she told everyone else and smiled to your face. This was my early experience in elementary school and middle school with the difference between boys and girls as friends.
Now I usually had one or possibly two close girl friends but not a big group. I am a loner by nature and a super low maintenance friend. In fact a woman that I would consider one of my closest girlfriends I haven't seen in years, haven't talked to on the phone in almost as long, talk to online a few times a year but think of often. The reason I still consider her one of my closest friends is that she understands that my lack of contact isn't a lack of love or concern, it's just the way I am. And I also know that if she ended up in Portland or I ended up in Memphis we would pick right up where we left off never missing a beat.
But sometimes what you think you are and what you are don't completely mesh. Last night I had drinks with a group of women I used to work with. I have talked about them before in previous blogs. Smart, funny, talented and beautiful to boot. The kind of women insecure women hate. And to see them all in a group would make almost any woman insecure. Thank God I got exposed to them one at a time and grew to respect and cherish them each individually before realizing how incredibly intimidating they were as a group.
I had been talking to another friend earlier about having drinks with these ladies and how it was nice to see them all again. And how comfortable the relationships were. In every group you play a part, the role that is yours. In this group I am still the mom. I don't have to change anything. I am the oldest by a chunk, I have been married the longest, I have the oldest child, I had worked for the company we all worked for the longest, I am the mom, the den mother, the voice of experience, the been there done that one. And I am comfortable in that role.
Career-wise this group is so much more driven than I am. They are in school getting advanced degrees, owning their own companies, owning companies together, working multiple jobs, branching out into entirely new careers paths and succeeding there...it's impressive to watch. When we are talking about business choices and decisions the roles seem to reverse. I am the one wandering and looking for my way after all of these years. Trying this thing or that for awhile while they are all focused and making impressive careers. But the great thing is that there is someone else in the group with a stable long career to look to for guidance in that area as well. Everyone fills a role.
So last night we all gathered for drinks. It was one of those things that just sort of happened. There was a post on a wall on Facebook then a "me too" comment added and another and then we had a date and a plan...and it fell through. I had a client, Meg had a previous obligation...try again. And miracle of miracles the second date worked! It is almost impossible to corral all of us in one shot. And we weren't all there last night, we were missing four but we did have over half of the group so it counts as a success!
As we sat sharing stories and catching up through the night moving in and out of conversations, smaller groups, one on one, all of us together I realized how much I missed seeing them every day. Then Jenn summed it up so well. We were talking about relationships and the challenges we all face at different times and she said, "When we all worked together, we had each other as a vent. We could talk about anything and let that out and then go home." And that was it. When we were all in the same work place we would wander from desk to desk through the day, or gather around the conference room table at lunch, or grab a drink after work and just visit, share, vent, laugh, get advice, give advice every day. Then you could go home and leave work behind, leave that frustration at work or know that the frustration you were feeling at home wasn't anything to worry about, it was normal stuff they had been through it as well. And we all got really used to having that as part of our day.
To having each other as part of our day.
I realized that I am the sort of woman who has a group of girlfriends. I just added them all so slowly into my life that I didn't realize it.