My only two friends were Jackie and Melanie. Jackie lived next door and was popular, tan and athletic. I was skinny, scatter-brained and was convinced that unicorns were hiding in the creek by my house. Melanie and I were inseparable until middle school, when she decided she needed to be popular and moved to California. Years of sleepovers and make-believe were no match for designer clothes and the land of Paris Hilton.
During high school, I met a girl named Ashley. My brain had been taken over by hormones and aliens. I was obsessed with going out, whether it was just to the movies or down to the lake to listen to music. Instead of writing or drawing, I spent my nights running all over town. Ashley was the first girl I had clicked with in years. She simply understood me. She never laughed when I danced all over her house in her pleather pants to her Sailor Moon alarm clock and never judged when I dated a guy I shouldn't. I had a toothbrush at her house and told her dreams I couldn't tell anyone. Then she had to find her own way, and I had to find mine.
College was excruciating. Girls were obsessed with one of two things: 1) God (I went to a private Baptist University) or 2) Marriage. Even though I married two weeks after college, I was obsessed with neither. I wanted to ride horses and play tennis and slide down the slides at the pool. My idea of a fun night was swinging on swings or baking cookies, not reading bridal magazines or going to philosophical discussions about religion. I knew who I wanted to marry and I knew what I believed. It was simply beating a horse to death to expand on either subject.
It was at that point I became convinced I couldn't make real female friends. I had long since learned that male friends were a different animal all together. Frankly, I didn't even want to mess with it. Sure, I went to lunch with girls. But I went through friends like I went through books, getting deeply involved with one and tossing it away at the first sign of conflict. I grew tired of having to explain and defend my relationship with Ben, a rarity at my age.
I got tired of being laughed at for wanting puppies. I didn't want to go out dancing until two, I didn't want to go drink coffee and watching Sex and the City for hours drinking wine was my idea of torture. While I had the love of my life, I couldn't make a single female friend. I have a great mother and a fabulous mother-in-law, but no one that understood my need to twirl in the parking lot. No one got me the way Ashley had, or Melanie before her.
Then I met Libby.
Then I met Emma.
And then I met Mrs. McGill.
And then I met Marie.
(Insert kind loving picture here)
And then I met the princesses from work. And I met all of you. And then I found Ashley again.
And suddenly, just like those single women on those horribly annoying television movies that spend 100 minutes whining about how no man will ever love them and they are too neurotic/ weird/ pretty/ have high standards, I found love in the last 20 minutes. I found not one, but several people that understand me and aren't bound to me by blood or marriage. These people came to me without force or pay. They actually liked me. Opinionated, crazy, pie-eating, dancing, talks to stuffed animals me.
I have never had that in my life.
Now I have a friend like Libby who tries to make me look as fabulous as she does.
I have a friend like Emma who listens to me whine and reads terrible versions of my stories without complaining. And I whine a lot. And I write a lot of crappy stuff. She should be paid, really. When we go on our adventure Saturday, I should buy her all the pie in Fredericksburg.
I have a friend like Mrs. McGill who not only creates stunning works of art at 83, but insists on having lunch once a month. During those lunch, she creates intricate designs of tuna salad, apples, pickles and chips. I know that my visit is the highlight of her week. It is the highlight of my month.
And I have Marie, a dear friend who sent me a postcard and text messages on vacation while she was supposed to be relaxing and enjoying the country side.
Through these wonderful ladies, I have met all of you. You actually like my writing. I'm still confused over that one.
Thank you, dear friends. You mean the world to me.
*Beatrix Potter photo from: http://images.allposters.com/images/wil/7301.jpg.