Sunday, March 8, 2015

To All The Girls I've Loved Before

Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family of girls, but I have always had lots of girlfriends. I know Julio and Willie weren’t really singing about the friend kind of love, but I think the line is still appropriate.

All my friends are no longer girls. They’re women. Not ladies, either, because none of us would conjure up high heels, crossed ankles, delicate laughs, or formal clothes. We can do that, but we’d rather not. We run around in sneakers, sit crossed-legged, laugh so loudly we get kicked out of restaurants, and are more comfy in track pants or jeans. 

My women pals are large (not necessarily in size, but in life), smart, loving, and unique. We talk about everything, from food to sex to other pleasures and pains. We discuss our husbands, or man friends, or other women, or television and movies. We read or recommend the latest books we’re reading and we love to read a book and then see the movie.

Some of my friends are blood related. They're my sisters. I remember writing a poem a long time ago stating that the highest compliment I can give to one of my friends is that they are like a sister to me. Because for me, sister means joy, love, and hope.

I love being with them. They’re funny and often wild and always interesting. Conversation never lulls. In fact, it’s surprising we can hear each other because we all talk at once. Our family get-togethers are absolutely nuts. We do recognize that it’s difficult for some of the significant others to take, but if they hang around long enough, they are loved so fiercely that, even if the relationship doesn’t last, the family connection often does. We have the hugest laughs you’ve ever heard and we indulge in laughing every few minutes. One of my sisters died eleven years ago, but her laughter still rings in our ears, and we still see her mooning us from the car as we caravan down the highway. We still watch her dance on the deck or sit on the balcony watching a seagull float by.

One of my closest friends is my cousin. We’ve known each other since birth, just like a sister, and have that flow of shared genes between us.

 Some sisters are related by marriage. Some have grown up with me. We met in high school or in our first year of teaching. We have literally gone through every twist and turn in the road that can be imagined. We’ve watched each other change and grow and learn.

Others were met later along the path, but have no less a place in my heart and in my life.

They’ve helped me through divorce, child rearing, loss of loved ones, difficult times. They’ve been there at the celebrations, successes and crossroads. Happily, I’ve been there for them, too, or at least I’ve tried.

We support one another, praise or critique when deserved or needed, raise a glass or two or more in tears or laughter. We can bitch and complain without feeling censored or misunderstood. We can disagree without losing each other’s respect. In fact, sometimes it only heightens our esteem. We can be annoyed with another, because we can be real. It doesn’t shake that deep abiding love.

Nowadays I add my daughter to this group. She is my best friend, my inspiration, my heart. She’s grown up and though I will always struggle not to see my baby in her eyes, I have been able to appreciate her as a dynamic woman whose presence in my life cannot be properly put into words. It’s too deep for an alphabet.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to add some daughters by choice, through marriage, through love and admiration, or all of those. These days, nieces and daughters of my friends are grown and have evolved into women I adore, admire, and whose company I seek as often as I can.

I realize and never take for granted that I am especially lucky. I have lots of women in my life. I adore them. They help me laugh, cry, think, learn, and grow. They demand that I be honest and true, not just to them, but to myself as well. As the saying goes, they insist that I be the best I can be. 

To all the girls I’ve loved before, I love you now and always. 

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