I could almost be a lesbian. All except for the sex, that is. That’s a deal breaker for me. But other than that, I could totally be one.
You might be wondering where I’m going with this, so I’ll explain.
I have discovered, as I age, just how important girlfriends are in my life. I would not be who I am today without them. They have helped form me into the person whose words you’re reading. (So if you don’t like me, or my words, blame my girlfriends.)
Thinking about it recently, I realized some of my most intimate relationships have been with women. These gals have been there for just about every memorable moment in my life.
We share our stories, laugh and cry together and are there for one another. No matter what. I’ve known some of them over 40 years. These are my chosen sisters.
Take Mandy, for instance. We met in junior high, went to high school together and eventually became traveling buddies. She and I have camped on remote islands off British Columbia, kayaked alongside Orca whales, watched a hyena sleeping against our tent (while we were in it!) on a Tanzanian camping safari and trekked through Amsterdam together.
I met Sue in high school only because we had our lockers next to each other. Our last names began with ‘D’ so fate put us together. Had my last name been Hollingshead, we might have never met. She’s the only person I know who talks as much as I do. And let me tell you, that’s quite a feat.
Since high school, Sue and I have shared almost every significant moment in each others lives: weddings (both of ours), funerals (my parents, her dad), summer vacations in Tahoe, adventures in Hawaii and Spain. I’m also godmother to her son, Eric.
Sharon and I grew up on the same street. She’s a rare and special soul; Sharon feels like home to me. We were roomies in our 20s and Maid of Honor in each others weddings. I’m also godmother to her son, Martin.
Sharon is nurturing and always present. She makes you feel like you’re the only one in the room even when it’s crowded with others. She has the uncanny ability to offer her complete attention. I don’t know many people like that, do you?
Pam is my exercise buddy. She’s incredible. At age 56, she’s in better shape than most 20-year-olds. Pam runs 2 half-marathons a week (often in the hills), then swims, bikes, hikes and lifts weights the other days. Why? Good question. Apparently, she loves a challenge. All I know is she puts me to shame. Pammy has one speed: GO. She’s definitely my motivator.
The two of us enjoy sharing many activities that involve sweating: sprint triathlons, running Bay to Breakers, numerous bike events, including biking around Lake Tahoe and a tour through New England. Without her I’d probably be a couch potato.
Together we’ve explored Italy, Mexico, Hawaii and various other U.S. states. She’s easy to be with and cracks me up. You should see her Steve Martin impression from his SNL “wild and crazy guys” routine.
Sisters, Patty and Karen, are the life of the party. Whenever they arrive, the decibel level increases exponentially; I love it. Side note: if you bruise easily, be careful when standing near Patty, as she has a habit of hitting your arm and exclaiming, “Son of a bitch!” when a story takes an interesting turn. She’s also game for anything; we’ve skydived together and lived to tell.
I don’t believe it’s possible for Patty’s sister, Karen, not to have a smile on her face. She simply radiates kindness and is truly a giving, loving person. I swear, she’s like a junior Mother Teresa. (But she’ll deny it.)
Then there’s Joan. Joan has more friends than Justin Bieber has twitter followers. And her singing voice will give you chills, it’s so beautiful. Being with her, you totally get why everyone loves her.
And then there’s Kim. She’s the head-turner in the group; tall, thin, blond. You get the picture. Just beautiful inside and out (even though she doesn’t recognize it).
Now don’t get me wrong; my friends aren’t around only for the good times. When my parents died 3 weeks apart, these gals arranged a surprise sunset ceremony in a field near the bay in gorgeous Tiburon. We released balloons that held personal messages to my folks, while Sharon read a touching letter she wrote about them.
During the early days of my divorce, this group of friends showed up on my doorstep one morning and whisked me away on a wonderful hike and picnic lunch. They didn’t ask if I wanted to go. They knew what I needed before I did.
What a privilege to have these gals in my life.
I suppose that’s because I share with them what I know to be truly intimate – my heart.