Who doesn’t love love? I’m a hopeless romantic disguised as a cynical little pragmatist. It’s not just because I’ve never married that I idealize love. No, I’ve had excellent examples. After 60 years of marriage, my grandparents threw themselves into one another’s arms and held hands all day like teenagers after their very first night apart. My parents, who celebrate their 40th anniversary in two weeks, still hold hands. All the time. And have a very active love life (my mother can’t refrain herself from discussing the cuter, sweeter aspects at breakfast sometimes), and adore one another with all the adoration in the world.
All my life I’ve basked in the glow of the various kinds of love in the world. And I’ve reveled in the luxury of something my grandmother and mother never had: girlfriends.
It’s not that marriage and good women friends are mutually exclusive. It’s not that one is a substitute for the other. But it’s harder to develop girlfriends when you marry your best friend at 18 and have a basically blissful marriage.
My mother has only recently discovered them, and I swear she giggles sometimes when she talks about them.
Girlfriends are the salt on the tomato, the honey in the tea, the cool breeze on a warm day. Your husband gives you a terrible present? You don’t have a husband? You’re poor as dirt but feel the need for pampering? Call your girlfriends together and throw a clothing swap! It’s way, way better than shopping. Then you can walk around saying things like, yeah, this skirt used to belong to a rock star. Really. And these pants? A novelist/architect….It’s more fun than saying, “I got this at Saks.” (It’s also a great way to MAKE girlfriends if you don’t have many). Do it around brunch and call it kid-friendly.
So right now I’d like to give a shout-out to the Jerusalem Gfs I spent this Shabbat with. T. is our hotel/babysitter/concierge in Jerusalem, and a great cook, a witty conversationalist, and a shockingly adventurous person (so lots of stories about dog sledding and white water rafting). L. took time off from studying for her Lsat the last two weeks of my pregnancy to walk 6 miles a day with me every day. She went to the farmer’s market with me and the humongous sports stroller every Sunday after the baby was born, and before she was born, defended my right as a pregnant woman to have a cup of coffee to a busy-body café staff. A. is the mother of two-year-old twins. She’s writing her dissertation and teaching in at least 4 different programs all over the Israel. Yet she always finds time to sends me poems, to hate the same famous poet I hate, to call me whenever anything is going on in my life, and she tells me my daughter is the cutest thing, though she’s got two cutest thing twins.
In the States there are too many to name, but one example of wonderfulness is LSW, who I knew in Texas. Though she was teaching about 7 classes a week at the local university, had 2 children, was pregnant with the third, was the wife of the president of the shul (who was also the day school’s principal, as well), she always had clean sheets and an 8-course meal for me every Shabbat I stayed with them. Now with three children and a job in the new and cold city of Chicago, she invites me over any time I want, tells me I’m wonderful, and pampers me.
Now that I’m in a very satisfying relationship, I’m faced with a new and delightful dilemma—how to maintain the life support system of girlfriends and still have time for Mr. (almost)Perfect. Luckily, my girlfriends have been tremendous examples. But I think it will be a balancing act for a little while. Ladies, be patient with me, please!
I’m only sad that the center of my social life in DC, is moving away. It’s for a very good reason—she’s marrying the man of her dreams. She probably doesn’t understand that she’s the center of my social world, and without her DC may as well not exist. But, since friends are supportive and love one another, I’ll accept that forced sacrifice with as much grace as I can.