A Love Letter to My Tribe (or: Grow Old with Me)
When I was growing up, I didn’t have an imaginary friend. I had books, and Barbies, and 5 acres of sand and dirt to play in to keep me company. I had friends at school, but they weren’t really the kind of friends you made BFF pacts with or anything like that. In fact, most of them were actually just mean girls that I followed around, trying to be cool. There were a few along the way who seemed to maybe value something in me, but for the most part, I gravitated toward people I could please. I have always been a pleaser, wanting to make sure everyone else is safe, comforted, happy, content, etc.
It wasn’t until recently that I have begun thinking about friendship and what real friends actually are. I’ve had relationships with women that have changed and ended and grown over the years, and now, as an adult, I reflect on that and am so grateful for the women who have come in and out of my life. Yes, even the ones who have left, because even they have taught me valuable lessons.
Many people would define true friendship as a support group, or a family of sorts. But I will be the first one to admit that I don’t get along with the majority of my family. So the word “family” doesn’t hold much meaning for me. I have thought about how to describe these relationships while still being able to encompass the diversity of them all and here is the only word that I can come up with:
The friendships that have lasted, the ones that have rekindled, the ones that have started and blossomed quickly, have done so because they have been raw. There is no pretense, there is no judgement, there is no facade of what should be. There is complete freedom and comfort in being myself and in the other person being herself. There is absolute, unconditional acceptance.
I am lucky enough to be surrounded by some amazing women. Some who have stuck by me through all my crazy because they embrace it and love me through it all. Some who have the crazy, too, and understand every minute of it. Some who I lost for a while, but we have found each other again, and it feels like we never lost a beat. And others who feel like a part of my soul, and I am so blessed to be able to watch them grow and to be a part of that.
I have lost other relationships. Girls and women I thought I would grow old with, that I used to brainstorm my future with, that we used to plan out our old age assuming we would still be right next to each other. I am no less grateful for these women. I have amazing memories and life moments celebrated with them. They have taught me the value of rawness. There are consequences to showing your hand. It is the women who would stand by through that and show me their hand too, that I want to grow old with.
Now, as I spot grey hairs, make noises when I stand up, and all of a sudden am concerned about my vitamin D levels, I am so grateful to have these sisters by my side. This group, this tribe of mine, we hold each other up. We remind each other that life is fucking messy and will always get worse before it gets better. We tell each other NOT to buy the shoes because we know the other one is on a budget, and we watch cheesy Netflix movies together. We get away as often as possible to gripe and laugh and cry. We pack boxes when it's time to move. We talk about diarrhea and when we can’t sleep. We share shoes and blankets and dogs. We go on adventures and play games. And we pray for each other.
To these women, I say thank you. Thank you for being here at this time in my life when adulthood is actually taking over, thank you for answering stupid questions...and asking them. Thank you for laughing at ridiculous memes. And thank you for valuing me at my very worst. I can be raw with you, and you can always be raw with me. I love you.