Whenever a woman tells me, "I don't really have chick friends" I turn my head and blink funny. I don't know where I would be without the women in my life. They provide a very different mirror from the men in my life. I need them.
My friends arrive in waves. I find new groups and meet tons of people all at once and only keep a few from each generation. I have a friend who was born across the street from me. Four months before me. Through thirty years and fifty plus moves we have kept in touch. I love her a lot. She is very different from me. She's a JAP and makes no apologies. As she shouldn't. She's tentative and slightly nervous but very ambitious. I think she will have a life she is proud of. I think that she will be old and smile because she is a really good person. I'm glad I know her.
Her parents divorced acrimoniously when we were in high school. Most of her grand parents have died. These are the traumas of her life. She has taught me about stability. She has been the most consistent person in my whole life. We go through periods of being closer and less close. That's ok. She always comes back. I can't wait till she has kids. I will be over there a lot. We will have an interesting time negotiating her telling me to stop bossing her around. She rarely manages to do that well. I've been bossing her around for 30 years. It's hard to stop. Once she has kids... I need to not boss. It's going to be weird because she will make entirely different choices.
For one thing, she's Jewish. If she has a boy he will get snipped. That's her culture. She makes no bones about it. I will, of course, quietly submit some information for her to read if she wishes and then I need to shut the fuck up. I can't bitch at her about circumcising her son. I can't make this the issue that ruins our friendship. I need her too much. When people think about "cutting off" a friendship, they are thinking about what do you get from the relationship. What does this person need that you no longer want to provide. What do you need that they no longer provide. Most people aren't honest about those exchanges, but they exist.
I need this friend. This friend is very important to me. This friend is the only person in my life from my childhood. I need her. I need someone to talk to my kids about me. I need someone who can talk about how I have grown and changed with real serious perspective. I feel so alone in the world without a family. It's terrifying. This is being an orphan. I feel like I am going to pass out of notice and be forgotten unless people like this exist. I am going to master my temper and my nasty judgment. I am not going to alienate this friendship. I love her too much. I love her like I love my mom and my sister. But she has never hurt me. I want to keep her. I will do things that are hard for me because she is worth the effort.
Don't get me wrong, she'll know I'm not thrilled. But I can go to the fucking bris and keep my fucking mouth shut. I don't think I can do it for anyone else. I can do that for my mirror. She shows me that I can. She shows me the truth about who I am and what I am capable of. For her, I could move mountains. I can totally keep my mouth shut and make idle chatter with her dad and brother. I will hug her mother. I need to call her mother and ask if she has pictures of us from when we were little. Maybe her dad does. This family shows me that I survived intact. Me, as a person. They knew me from my birth. They saw me through everything that happened. At least once a year through my childhood and we've kept in touch as adults. They took me into their home when I was homeless as a small child. More than once.
When people talk to me in shocked voices about how strong my boundaries are... it's a funny conversation. They are stone walls out there. The inner circle doesn't really have boundaries. I will shut my fucking mouth about the degree of my horror of circumcision for this friend. I will simply not go to the bris for other people. That is how I can avoid making a scene and making something private about me. I will god damn behave myself and be civil and sweet with my friend and her family. With someone else I feel like if I am having a bad day I might just snap and tell the (hypothetical) other parents I thought they were disgusting savages. I have my biases.
I don't have a culture to participate in that requires such an action. Thus I have the luxury of it being a clear situation for me. My friends give me reasons to have to shut down my own bigotry (I have lots) and stop and really think about why in the fuck someone might make such a horrendous decision. Well, for one thing I would do significantly more traumatic things to my kids and not think twice about it. Horrendous is a strong word. My personal life experiences are such that I place genital integrity above cultural identity. Convenient given my cultural identity, eh? And that's the thing.
I think that if the general population stops being assholes and drops the legislation push that most Jews will stop circumcising in the next couple of generations. I think that people will evolve. If they are left alone and allowed to do so. Persecuting a group isn't how you make them change. It is how you cause them to dig in and become stubborn. Ask me how I know about that behavioral quirk.
I keep my friend because she is good. And she still does things that feel bad to me. Learning to navigate judging the behavior of other people so I can make my own decisions is complicated in the face of these complicated people. I feel more comfortable with extremes. Oh well. I love her. I need her. I want her. Ok fine, if I have to I will grow for her.
In chronological order next comes Miss Jenny. She's Jennifer to you. She's my Jenny. I don't even know how that started anymore. I met her in junior high and I hated her. However the loneliness of rural children is a powerful force. We got over it. And we kept in touch. I would say we were barely friends in high school and college. After college we have been quite close. She has also been around through a lot of different phases. And she was closer to my life. She knows many of my friends (heck, she knew them before me). She is the reason I learned to dance. She is the reason I started blogging. She taught me about Renaissance Faires and Dickens Fair and The Starry Plough. I wanted to go dancing, but mostly I really wanted to hang out with Jenny. I like her. She makes me feel good about myself.
On the trauma scale, well, she had some stuff happen. Enough that when I showed up at her house sobbing after the suicides in my family, she could take care of me. She was only 17, too. She knew what to do. Jenny is significantly more stable feeling, even when her life seems outwardly unstable. It's a core feeling. She is there. I feel like it doesn't matter if I go five minutes, five months, or five years without seeing her. She's Jenny. She has this really strong presence. She has taught me a lot about mastering my emotions. Personally I think she's a bit closed off, but I get to have any wrong opinion I want.
Jenny is consistent emotionally in the ways I fail. She gives me a stable mirror for my storms. She teaches me about dealing with the in-between-places. She may not like it, but she deals with limbo fairly well. She's good at getting up and staying busy. It's not a skill everyone has and she had to slowly learn it. Honestly she sucked ass at that when I met her. I think that was because of issues with her mom. But we all have those in junior high.
The next big wave came with the theatre group. I am not as close with anyone from that community. None of them have kids and that has been challenging. Flakey bastards. But I keep in touch with them and we have dinner once or twice a year. Of all the waves of my friends, this is the group that builds me up the most. That's an interesting thought. They have no reservations about me. I don't remember ever having a disagreement or argument with anyone there (other than my boyfriend) about anything I did behavior wise. They were completely comfortable with me. It's been a little odd at how impressed they are with "what I have done with my life". I'm in a fallow period so I feel pretty lazy. But they are still working the same jobs doing pretty much the same things they were doing when I met them thirteen years ago. It has been a busy decade and some for me. It's nice having them pop up and cheerlead every so often.
Then there was bdsm. I met the Godmama at my second munch ever. (She's the legal next of kin to my children. That lawyer was expensive.) I think that one of the most important things I get from this relationship mirror is that, what I can bear is not what everyone can bear. I mean, that's true in every case. But she is really good at laughing at me when I express to her that her life would be hard for me. She is so different. It's not any one thing. It's everything. Almost all of our hobbies are entirely different. We have very different social, romantic, sexual, relationship needs. And by golly that's ok. I think she is the most adamant person I know about us both being ok. It's very comforting.
She has had a much more challenging life than the previous people mentioned. She's also a lot older than us. Almost twenty years older. It's a very different relationship. It fills different parts of my needs.
I wandered off and the thread in my head changed. Fudge.