Thursday, January 3, 2013

girlfriends

I am almost 33 years old and single, which perhaps more than anything else means that I have lots of girlfriends. Some are lifelong companions, like my sisters and my best friend I grew up with, treasures as worn and weathered as an old photograph or a favorite book. I return to them again and again. Some are surprising, gifts I didn’t think to ask for, and others are unlikely, like chili with chocolate. For some reason, it just works.

What they all are is a light held up to help me see. They light the way forward during dark times, reflect to me what is true of me (the good and the bad), and bring sparks of joy and laughter to what would otherwise be a pretty mundane life. 

And one thing I’ve learned is that, maybe ironically, girlfriends are particularly needful when it comes to boys. Recently, an abrupt end to a budding relationship taught me that again. I would have felt better sweeping the whole thing under the rug to forget the pain, but I knew my friends, who were cheering for me to get what is good, deserved more trust and respect than that. And truthfully, the crush of it — the crumbling hope that wasn’t really about him, but about a struggle turn up a full net in what feels like empty waters — called out for something more than I could offer myself. I was standing too close to it all, and I needed the perspective of one who saw my heart at some distance and could see the whole painting instead of just a few harsh brushstrokes.

They say dating is good for learning, and I thought they meant about myself and about men. But this time I learned something crucial about my girlfriends: they hold on to hope for me more tightly than I can on my own, and I am lucky to have them.

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