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To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before

What up y’all? I would like to share something about myself. Why? Because my last few posts have been slightly impersonal. And you people out there, readers, are my friends, my only friends. Other than you I just sit by myself reading Click Clack Moo over and over until I want to punch Farmer Brown in the mouth so hard I loosen the only tooth he has left. They should look into getting some dentists down in farm country. JMO. Oh, and don’t you hate people that say JMO as if it’s either A) someone else’s opinion or B) just something you said that you know for a fact is completely wrong. Get a backbone dammit! Wait a minute…this is no way to make my friends feel all warm, loving and accepting of me. I’ve got to try harder. Must try harder.

When I love something, I love it with such a passion that it scares everyone in sight. Not in a Hand That Rocks The Cradle, I must have your husband kind of way. Just in a goofy “I fucking love that song I heard on Grey’s Anatomy and must download it and play it a gazillion times until my ears finally give out from sheer repetition. I feel the same way about people it’s just rarer and more fleeting. When I make a new friend and there’s that new friend chemistry, I want to drink them in, know everything about them, find out why they only want one child or or what their feeling is about the color teal. But more than that, I want to know what they think about, what they’re disappointed about, what experiences make them who they are. I want to talk to them all the time and share the trivial and the mundane. I want to check in often.

When I was in high school this was the norm. I was a “best friender.” My first was in grade school and her name was Jill Hoffman. She was the coolest – a gymnast so naturally I had to become one too. She wore her hair in a long ponytail – guess who else? We were joined at the hip when she wasn’t hanging out with someone more popular. But Jill taught me to be self-confindent and to punch boys in the arm when they were mean to me. We also found a way to steal things out of the school’s lost and found box. Last I heard she graduated Berkely.

I moved after 6th grade to Spokane, Washington where I quickly made a frenemy named Jamie. We were best friends immediately mainly because she lived directly across the street from me and we were the same age. But our friendship soured once Junior High started and we got into a fight, hated each other fiercely, formed friendships with two other former friends and then “got back together” while out shoveling snow one day. That was one of my closest friendships ever. Jamie was my partner in crime, got my sense of humor, took in stray animals, was as poor as I was and most importantly at that time, was loyal as the day is long. She stuck up for me when I was teased for being ugly or walking funny and she loved me. And protected me. Many a night I showed up at her doorstep late at night after my step-father had thrown a glass at me or screamed that he was going to kill me, and Jamie and her single mom would pick glass out of my hair, rub my back, threaten to call the cops on him and tell me they loved me. Then we’d eat two boxes of Jell-O pudding and play Jamie’s mom’s old 45’s.

Then at 16, my mother announced we were moving again. Although my stepfather wanted absolutely nothing to do with me, I was forced to go (Jamie’s mom offered to let me finish high school and live with her but my mother said no). I moved to Springfield Mass, racked up some large phone bills to Jamie, missed her like a lover gone overseas but eventually had to adjust to my new situation. That’s when I became enamored of Michelle. Actually, truth be told, she was enamored of me. And she was slightly geeky. Skinny, unsure of herself but called me incessently, asked me to go to the mall, go to Friendlys, hang out. At first I wasn’t sure. I’d been burned before. But eventually (and in high school terms this means a week) we became BFFs! We did everything together. We shared a locker, exchanged notes after every period and even got ourselves in trouble together just so we could be in in-house detention and spend all day together passing notes and whispering about boys we liked. We spent every weekend at each other’s houses. Her parents treated me like a member of the family. We kissed the same boys, fought, made up, read dirty books, snuck out of the house late at night and went to parties, drank alcohol together for the first time. I knew that girl better than her family. I knew she needed a glass of water next to her bed when she went to sleep because she was petrified of being thirsty. I knew she was curious and repelled to lose her virginity. I knew what a great soccer player she was. And I knew what brand of beer she preferred.

But at 18, due to major family issues, I was forced to move to California and decided to bring my other dear friend Heidi. I was sad to not be going to college at UMASS and rooming with Michelle but at the same time, as sad as it was, we had been slowly realizing a friendship like that, probably wasn’t going to be the healthiest thing once we were in college. Michelle said “Like, we’re going to want to meet other people and stuff.” She was right but I still loved her. She was my heart. After living with Heidi in California for only six weeks, Heidi came to my office supply sales job “Hi, my name is Donna and you’re on our preferred customer list, I’d love to extend an offer to purchase a gross of Scripto Deluxe ink pens and paper. What? You’re only a one person office? Well, I could cut the order in half and throw in a telephone with automatic redial.” Yes, I was living the dream. That is until Heidi walked into the office, pulled me outside and told me that Michelle had been killed by a drunk driver. “
“No. No. That’s not possible. I just talked to her yesterday” I pleaded with Heidi to make the news go away. But it was true. And I went to her funeral. And that changes a person. Michelle had been writing me a letter. It was about three pages long and stuck in her notebook. Her mother gave it to me and cried.

I don’t know that I’ve ever loved another girlfriend with that intensity. Is it because it’s too risky? Am I too old? Do we just grow out of the need for all our needs to be met by one person, especially when we’re married?

My good friends, and I have some, accuse me of being a bit closed off with them, not being “vulnerable” enough. But I’m vulnerable with my husband. I don’t really see the point of walking around like an open sore unless you’re going through something really hard. I don’t want to depend fully on someone besides Jon. But I do miss my girls.

It’s taken me many years to get over Michelle’s death. I still have her old track jacket hanging in my closet. A souvenier her mother let me keep. The thing is, I want to have another friend like that. A friend I trust completely, a friend who’s not crazy in a bad way, a friend who doesn’t ask way more of you than you’re willing to give or give way more than you’re willing to reciprocate. A friend that likes to be real. Cut through the bullshit. And a friend who is not into scrapbooking.

Is 40 too late to find that again?

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on April 30, 2007 2:46 pmUncategorized21 comments  

21 Comments

  1. Jane is Dating said,

    if you find her please let me know how you did it because I too mourn the loss of a girlfriend and have never been able to find someone even close. Great read today by the way- how was your show? Oh wait it’s this week! do dish please!

    And oh please! I lived in Back bay for 15 years!! we’ve probably crossed paths at some point…how weird.

    | May 1, 2007 @ 11:53 pm

  2. Meegan said,

    I really don’t think it’s too late. But your friends are right, you will have to let your guard down. It’s impossible to have intense friendships without vulnerability. But it’s such a beautiful thing, to be vulnerable and then to feel supported. It took me many years of therapy to figure out that one. I missed out on so many female friendships because I was gun-shy. Now I surround myself with incredible women that I love and that love me back. It’s a love fest and I highly recommend it.

    | May 2, 2007 @ 12:37 am

  3. Antique Mommy said,

    I hope it’s not too late. I really really hope not.

    | May 2, 2007 @ 1:24 am

  4. margalit said,

    I don’t think it’s too late if you AND the friend are willing to have that kind of trust that you had in high school. I watch my daughter with her BFF and they’re inseparable. They see each other all day in school, spend after school together, then call each other a bazillion times an night while they are on Facebook talking AND IMing. It’s like they are joined at the hip.

    I don’t think any adult has friends like that in real life. Because we HAVE real lives and those tend to interfere with joined at the hip friendships.

    But, I think you can make good, lasting friends when you’re 40. I know I did. I had my kids when I was 40, and all my friendships changed and I had new mommy friends that I’ve now known for 15 years and we’re still very close. So I say you can, but it isn’t ever the same as your high school intensity.

    BTW, I have 2 brothers that live in that VERY tony suburb just south of Springfield on 5, and go to visit often. The X is still there!

    | May 2, 2007 @ 4:44 am

  5. Stefanie said,

    Hey Margalit, my husband’s sister still lives in Longmeadow a couple of houses off of route 5!

    | May 2, 2007 @ 5:03 am

  6. In the Trenches of Mommyhood said,

    A beautiful post about friendship. I love all my “old” friends–the kind who I can hang out in my pjs with. They are few and far (literally, thousands of miles) between. It seems like such an EFFORT to meet people these days. I’m going thru it right now with my first preschooler. Small talking with the moms, getting invites to Silpada parties, etc. It tires me out. I live in MA, and I miss my girls in Florida, Colorado and Arkansas!

    | May 2, 2007 @ 1:46 pm

  7. gmcountrymama said,

    OK, I am crying now. Remember when I hung out with Michele without you for the first time? We went to Lake Lorraine and she told you after how boring I was and she couldn’t believe I brought a book. I apparently was just supposed to hang out and look at cute guys! I learned fast. I have soo many great memories of the three of us together.
    Don’t be too hard on yourself about the girlfriend thing. I find it a lot harder to find friends now that I am grownup. I also am only really, really close to my husband. I would love to have a close girlfriend, especially one that didn’t live 3000 miles away!
    But, I could also try harder. I miss you, hon!
    Put a helmet on me.

    | May 2, 2007 @ 3:08 pm

  8. pmella2000 said,

    I lament that I do not have close girlfriends that live nearby. I know I would be so much happier. Intermittently, I force myself to go to play groups but rarely meet anyone that I click with anymore. I have even joined a book group in hopes of meeting people. I am a bestfriender too…I’ve always had lots of friends and great relationships before marriage tho…I moved out of San Francisco to a quaint burb about an hour away and I cannot relate to anyone. I kind of envy others I tangentially know who do girl weekend getaways. Boy, I am sounding pathetic! But, anyway, it made me feel good to read your post and feel like I am not alone! I hear that when my children start school, I will meet people in the community and make friendships. Ho-hum… BTW – I really like your posts!

    | May 2, 2007 @ 8:51 pm

  9. Laural said,

    I could relate to this so much. It bothers me when women get married and feel that their husband is their best friend, and there’s no longer that need for a female “best friend.” (Very different roles).
    The friendship thing is hard. I do the same thing – have what I call “hot and heavy” friendships where you have to know it all, and then I put my guard up.
    I’m lucky to have a best friend. But, she lives a long way away.
    I don’t think it’s impossible at any age to find a best friend. I used to work with seniors, and I would see people connecting in their 80’s and 90’s. I think it’s cyclical – there are lots of best friends in your life. Different times call for different people. At least that’s how I feel about it.

    | May 2, 2007 @ 11:07 pm

  10. Anonymous said,

    you know, when you are grade school, high school, typically you are all in the same boat…waiting for boobs, liking boys, trying to find out who we are…so naturally we cling to those girlfriends that have all of those similarities…now as an adult it is so rare to find someone with the same sarcasm, work schedule, interests, intellect…

    so maybe we need to have an assortment of friends to fill all of our needs, you know the lame all-you-can-talk-about-is-your-kid mom friends, your husband’s buddies wives friends, etc.

    heaven forbid if you move and have to start all over…it’s very difficult and then you don’t have any history with these ‘new’ friends like your friends from the 7th grade…

    I suppose when you live in a retirement community you will again have similar interests as those around you – only then, you’ll be too old and too ornery to give a $#@!….

    | May 2, 2007 @ 11:16 pm

  11. mfk said,

    I loved this post.

    | May 3, 2007 @ 10:59 pm

  12. Denise said,

    i detest scrapbooking.

    | May 5, 2007 @ 12:20 am

  13. Nicole said,

    LOL I’m sure it’s not too late! In fact, I’m positive!
    Great post and I enjoyed your blog a lot!

    | May 6, 2007 @ 6:41 pm

  14. gingajoy said,

    yah, let your guard down, girlie. i am beginning to learn myself that the cycle of friendmaking doesn’t end, and now with 2 kids in tow, I need my girls more than ever. Good luck:)

    | May 7, 2007 @ 8:30 pm

  15. Jane is Dating said,

    ps- rock on new england girl! :)

    | May 7, 2007 @ 9:20 pm

  16. Mom101 said,

    Wow S, you’re amazing when you open up like this. Like you I’ve generally been a BFF kind of girl with all the politics and drama that goes along with it. And like you, those relationships get less intense for me the older I’ve gotten. My oldest and dearest still is, but in a mellow old Bordeaux sort of way. It’s not like the kick of tequila it used to be.

    As with anything, there’s no reward without risk. The risk here is opening yourself up. Not all the way, not at first. Just a flesh wound…see where it goes.

    | May 7, 2007 @ 11:42 pm

  17. Amy said,

    I hope it is not, for my sake as well as yours.

    I had a dear friend years ago in the Army. After we were out of the military and through college, she came out and things were never the same. This chubby, straight girl didn’t fit into her lifestyle anymore (which was strange, because as the rigid hetero, wasn’t it my job to alienate her??). Of course it’s not the same as what you went through with Michelle, but it shapes the way you form your next friendship and the friendship after that. It wasn’t til now that I realized there is still probably some damage from that whole business. She stole a little piece of me.

    The post really touched me – it made me think and remember. Thanks

    | May 8, 2007 @ 6:44 pm

  18. surcie said,

    Such a heartfelt post, Steph.

    (BTW, I lived in Spokane, too. And moved to So. Cal. from there.)

    | May 9, 2007 @ 2:05 am

  19. Dani said,

    I think as girls, we all long for that BFF. I adore my husband but I also yearn for the friend I can open up and share everything with.Good luck finding her and if you do, send her number my way

    | May 9, 2007 @ 2:12 am

  20. BellaKarma said,

    The ideals of female friendships have been on my mind a lot lately.

    My best friend (Kim) and I had a falling out in our freshman year of high school. I was pregnant with my daughter and Kim was very upset about this. Her own mother had been a resentful teen mom, and had always made Kim feel as though she was a “mistake.” I believe Kim turned against me, refocusing her hurt onto me.
    I have never found another best friend that I loved as much as my “sister” Kim. There’s always been this fantasy in my heart, where our lives (Me,my daughter & Kim) would’ve been like Beaches,minus the sad ending! 😉

    Thank you for opening up on this personal matter. I feel less alone…and more hopeful knowing other women are still seeking their soul sisters.

    | May 14, 2007 @ 11:22 am

  21. Izzy said,

    I totally get this post. I’ve said it before… I wish we lived near each other :)

    (I came to see what the deal was with the TB button but it looks like you got it)

    | May 22, 2007 @ 1:29 am

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