I’ve had this post in mind for a while now, and was hoping to snap a picture this weekend to accompany it, but someone was missing and it wouldn’t have been complete. This weekend, as some of you may have already heard, was a 30-something-year-old sleepover planned with myself, Jjiraffe and Esperanza. At the last minute, Esperanza couldn’t make it, and hearts from Bodega southward sank. I did for a split-second think about not going because of the distance, but had been looking forward to it all week, so I decided to hop in the car and go see my friend. I needed a night with someone who I can be myself with, someone who I can laugh with and talk endlessly with.
But first, let’s rewind a little bit. Actually, let’s rewind a lot bit. Growing up, I didn’t have the greatest luck with female friendships. I was a part of a group of girls from the very beginning, except I was the low one on the totem pole for reasons I’m still trying to figure out. If I had to guess, it would have to do with the fact I cared a little too much for other people and wasn’t willing to be the jerk that talked behind the other girl’s backs or laugh to their face. When I did, it felt wrong and I was filled with instant remorse. So instead, I was the girl the jerks talked about behind my back and laughed at to my face. And yet, I still stayed friends with them because I felt I had no other option. Of course I did, but I lived in an extremely small town in Maine, and these were, after all, the cool kids. Why wouldn’t I want to hang out with them? Oh peer pressure, why are you such a bitch?
If I could go back and tell my then 6- to 17-year-old self anything, (yes, I remained friends with them for that long, and in some instances, still am friends, as thankfully, people grow) it would be to stand up for yourself. Because you have heart and a conscience, it doesn’t make you a lesser person. In fact, it does the opposite. Because someone thinks something you do isn’t cool, screw them. Do you think it’s cool? Well good then, that’s all that matters. I would also tell myself to spend more time with that sweet friend of yours with amazing talent, or that group of musicians you felt a pull towards, but just didn’t have the guts to break away for.
It wasn’t until I met my friend Liz at 13 that I really understood what it was like to have a real friend. Someone who would stand-up for you and didn’t care what others thought while staying true to who she was despite what was cool. Then once I was a Sophomore in college, I made an incredible group of girlfriends who are unrivaled to this day. It is because of these friendships – and very much the first set – that I have a difficult time making friends as an adult.
After I moved to California, I met a group of girls who had already known each other for close to 10 years. They had the kind of friendship I had with my college friends, and no matter how hard I tried, I never truly felt a part of their group. They professed their love for me and tried to make me feel a part of it, but as a direct result of my earlier years, I often felt I was the one left out and the one talked about behind my back. (I have no proof that this happened, and most likely, it did not, but those scars from my youth run deep – it’s nearly impossible for me to believe it’s not the truth.) We’ve since had a bit of a falling out due to the last two years and what I’ve gone through, and it has made me re-evaluate what it is I recognize in a true friend.
Fast-forward to meeting Jjiraffe and Esperanza almost a year ago. I had just started seeking out other bloggers who had gone through similar loss as I, and found both J and E* through ICLW. Once I figured out both were in the Bay-area, the stalking commenced. We eventually met and hit it off. I knew instantly we’d be friends because in the short time I had known them, I was completely myself – something I had never been able to be with the girls here. I’m sure it had a lot to do with what we had in common, and the fact they had been reading me for a few months before we even met (so they were essentially already inside my head), but I instantly felt like they were it – I had made the girlfriends I felt I so desperately needed here. If it weren’t for the distance between us, I’d be begging these girls for twice-weekly get-togethers.
A few months ago, J and E had planned to get together for a sleepover and wanted me to join them. Unfortunately, it was the very same weekend my friend Liz (from above) was in town visiting, so I wasn’t able to join. I haven’t yet told them this, but as happy as I was to be with my friend Liz, the whole night they were together without me, I thought for sure they’d bond so much in that one night, they’d decide to leave me behind from then on. The pangs from youth creep in and it’s so hard to shake that feeling that I’m once again being laughed at and talked about. In my mind, they were now the cool kids and I was, once again, the low man on the totem pole (even though they didn’t once make me feel like that, it was 100% all in my head). If I hadn’t of been with my best-friend at the time, it would have been an even more difficult night for me.
Then skip ahead further to this weekend, tables were turned and I was the one there and another couldn’t make it. We ended up having a fantastic time. I got to know Darcy and talk to him about food (my favorite subject) and blogs, I enjoyed the
incredible food he made pizza we ordered, and even danced a silly dance in the hallway for her sweet twins. Yes, we laughed a whole lot, but not once did we laugh at E for not being there or talk about her behind her back; instead, we Tweeted and texted with her all night until all of our phones died, feeling like someone was missing and that we weren’t complete. Then the fact she was having such a horrible night while we were together having a great time, just wasn’t right. We needed to cheer her up and give her love and support, and we couldn’t. This is why I was never truly like those girls. It just didn’t feel right having one of us hurting so much.
I’m not sure my hang-ups with friendship will ever completely go away from inside of me, regardless of the people in question. But I do know that I’m now a part of these girl’s lives and feel absolutely blessed to have found them. This community has not only given me support and love and friendships all over the world, it has now given me in-the-flesh** friendships that I hold dear to my heart. These are the friends that if something went wrong and I needed someone, they’d be the first ones I’d call. Or if something fantastic just happened, I’d want them to know immediately.
I have a feeling if given the chance to meet all of you out there that I now call friends, it would be a very similar story. Except in our case, I would totally know if you were talking about me because you’d blog about it and then I’d totally write you an anonymous comment about how you’re a jerk-face and should die and you would have no idea it was me because it would be ANONYMOUS and all.
Because, as you can tell from my past, that’s totally the type of person I am.
(And E, please know that you were greatly, greatly missed, and I wish you had been there….but lucky for you, we’ve got an entire lifetime ahead of us. This is only the beginning.)
Updated an hour or so later because this post isn’t quite long enough already: I just realized I left someone out, and that was not my intention. I’ve also been able to meet Starfish Kitty Dreams, which has been equally as wonderful. Hers was one of the first blogs I found on RPL and she helped to introduce me to the information available at a South-Bay university. We’ve since met up a few times and have enjoyed one another (well, I guess I can’t speak for her, but I’ve enjoyed her company) and I felt a connection instantly to her as well. One of these days, we’ll have to all 4 meet up!
Updated 10/24/11: I have also met Marie and feel just as much love for her as I do these other women. Unfortunately, when I wrote this, my mind was focused on Bay-area bloggers that I get to see regularly, and I unfairly left her out. I hope that she accepts my apologies and know that I feel like an asshole.
* Do you ladies realize how difficult it is to type both of your names together over and over? You couldn’t have just gone with Jane and Sally? So you may just be called J and E from now on. Hope that’s okay with you.
** That made it sound kinda kinky. No, it wasn’t that kind of sleepover. Sheesh!