“friends: us. always. travels. stories told and a few kind lies. lots of laughter and a little chocolate. secrets shared and tears shed. kindness with time in between. dreams and awakenings. long roads, healing and quiet comforts. wicked mischief and wanton hilarity. time and always us: friends. always.” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher
“A woman needs close friends who she can turn to every day (and night) of her life. It may not be the same person each day because, like our lives, friendships are dynamic. But I hope that your best friends—even if the list is serial—offer you the unique sense of intimacy, trust, and reciprocity that will allow you to feel loved, understood, needed, supported, challenges, and inspired.
Yes, these relationships are complicated, some even bordering on mysterious, and creating them and making the meaningful ones stick takes some work. But they are as essential to our happiness and well-being as are nutritious food, clean water, and fresh air. Female friendships have their ups and down–and most of them don’t last forever–but we are very fortunate when best friends are a constant in our lives.” Excerpt from Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Breakup with Your Best Friend by Irene S. Levine, PhD
I drove six hours north on Friday to meet with an old friend in Florence, Oregon. She drove six hours south from where she lives in Washington state. We spent two nights in a comfy cabin and had approximately 24 waking hours to talk and catch each other up on our lives and what is happening in our respective families and children, she has an 8-year-old son and a 3 1/2 year old daughter and I have 4-year-old twin daughters.
We have been friends since 1993 when we met in Aix-en-Provence, France. I was studying French as part of a University exchange program. Already fluent in Spanish, she was independently studying at the same institute to improve her French, as she was working for a British publisher there in France. We were in the same class and became friends. I had come with a large posse of Californian college students. She was there essentially on her own and while she originally came from Texas she had already lived in Mexico and Spain. I immediately admired her independence and her gift in speaking languages.
When I decided to extend my stay in France past the standard one-year commitment I had to find a new apartment and roommate and my friend Karin was also seeking a new place as she was staying on in France too. We became roommates and spent another half year living in France together. We witnessed one another’s falling in love, her with an Italian and myself with a Moroccan. She was incredibly supportive when my Moroccan fiance died in a car accident and I tried to be supportive when she and her Italian parted ways.
Our life journeys continued in other parts of the world. I returned to California and she moving to Baltimore, Maryland. She came to California to visit me and then entered an MBA program in Italy where she met her husband who is Colombian. She moved with him to Argentina and then to Miami after they married in 1999. I flew to visit them in Florida when she was pregnant with her first child. They moved to Tennessee and then eventually to the state of Washington. Both of us being on the west coast now has made it easier for us to see one another once a year these past three years.
This past weekend we talked about our friendship and reminded each other what we admire about one another. We are the same and yet different. We have shared international experiences and a love of travel. We have both dated foreign men. We are both now married and have had children. We have both had our struggles with adjusting to being a mommy and have supported each other with our understanding and supportive words and nods of knowing. We also share certain social values, views on parenting and life in general that continue to fill out the nuances of our friendship. We also always remember one another’s birthday.
What are your thoughts on friendship? Do you have a best friend or a close group of friends? Have you ever experienced the painful loss of a friendship? Do you have any tips on keeping a long-term friendship alive and well?
Here are some interesting books that touch upon women’s friendships and relationships:
The 7 Aspects of Sisterhood by Debra J. Gawrych
Sacred Circles: A Guide to Creating Your Own Women’s Spirituality Group by Robin Deen Carnes and Sally Craig
Queen of Your Own Life: The Grown-Up Woman’s Guide to Claiming Happiness and Getting the Life You Deserve by Kathy Kinney and Cindy Ratzlaff
Best Friends Forever: Surviving A Breakup with Your Best Friend by Irene S. Levine, PhD
Lastly here is a poem by Rev. Melissa M. Bowers
Praise to the Women on My Journey
To the women on my journey
Who showed me the ways to go and ways not to go,
Whose strength and compassion held up a torch of light
And beckoned me to follow,
Whose weakness and ignorance darkened the path and
Encouraged me to turn another way,
To the women on my journey
Who showed me how to live and how not to live,
Whose grace, success and gratitude lifted me…
To the women on my journey
Who showed me what I am and what I am not,
Whose love, encouragement and confidence held me
Tenderly and nudged me gently
Whose judgment, disappointment and lack of faith called
Me to deeper levels of commitment and resolve.
To the women on my journey who taught me love by
Means of both darkness and light,
To these women I say bless you and thank you from the
depths of my heart, for I have been healed and set free
through your joy and through your sacrifice.