I miss having girlfriends (clarification – platonic female friends) :-D

I haven’t had a close female friend in a very long time. I won’t spout out the usual stereotypical explanations as to why I don’t have one, the “I don’t trust women” or “women are just haters” or “women don’t like me” types of responses. They don’t really apply to me. I don’t have any innate mistrust of women as a species, nor do I think women just have a knee jerk reaction to me that is negative or prevents friendship. I have had girlfriends in the past, women I was very close to and who were like sisters to me. But in recent years, I haven’t had that. As a result, everyone who I am close to, who I discuss intimate details of my life with, everyone who is part of my emotional “inner circle”, is male. And I miss having girlfriends. I miss having a sisterhood, having girls to sing my uniquely woman blues with. As much as my dudes love me, they are completely lost when I want to complain about my cramps, about how I wish I could find cute bra and panty sets in my size in stores without always having to order them online, or about how sometimes as a woman I feel so much pressure to conform in certain ways that society expects of me. They get it, but they don’t get it.

I’ve had good relationships with girlfriends over the years, and bad ones too. I’ve had the girlfriend that always made me feel like I was the ugliest one in the crew when actually I was the best looking and she wanted to make sure I didn’t realize it. I’ve had the girlfriends who held my hair when I threw up after a night of too much liquor. I’ve had the girlfriend who always wanted to tell me how bad my boyfriends were, and then would flirt with them behind my back. I’ve had girlfriends who gave me money when I needed it and picked me up when I was stranded in the middle of nowhere. I once had a girlfriend who wouldn’t take me to a job interview when my car broke down on my way to the interview because “I want to make sure I’m free in case Kevin (the guy she liked at the time) wants to go to lunch.” (Guess you can tell I’m still tripping over that one.) I even once had a girlfriend who organized an “intervention” of sorts for me at my job because she couldn’t stand how disrespectfully my boyfriend at the time was treating me. And believe it or not, that intervention really helped open my eyes as to what a jerk he was. So at times in my life I have had the sister love. Just not now.

With a lot of my former close girlfriends, time and circumstances have just caused us to drift apart. I still think the world of them, and (I hope) they still think the world of me, but we’re in different spaces and places in our lives, and just aren’t in a position to be close like we used to be. (I think of a young lady named Chanel as I write this.) Doesn’t mean I don’t think of them with great warmth and fondness, this just isn’t our season. I don’t have the front row seat I once did in their lives, but I still think of myself as being in the arena, even if it’s up in the cheap seats. With others, a specific incident occurred to end our friendship, usually a man or money, and sometimes both. Some girlfriends moved away. I’ve met women that I thought would make great girlfriends, but often they’re very busy and just don’t have the time to take on a new close friendship, though if they ever did they’d be happy to have me as a friend. I have girlfriends that I see extremely sporadically, like once every 3-6 months or so, but when we do hang out we are close, confide in each other, and have a great time together. (I think of women like Felicia as I write that.)  I envy women like my sister who has several girlfriends that she has been close to for YEARS, since she was in high school and she is in her fifties now. Truth be told, she is closer to them than she is to me and we are sisters.  They know more about her and her life and her day to day struggles and triumphs than me. I wish I had that in my life, someone who had witnessed my life for years and years. I don’t have that kind of continuity with anyone over my lifetime, and it kind of makes me sad.

I know a lot of women don’t think girlfriends are important. They talk about the drama and issues that always seem to be a part of the sisterhood side of friendship, and are glad not to have girlfriends. They feel that having all male friends, is better, simpler and less troublesome. But I don’t think one should be proud of one’s inability to relate to your own gender intimately. That doesn’t mean you should have a ton of girlfriends, but I think every woman should have at least one girlfriend they are close to, can confide in openly and without judgment. I just don’t know why I don’t have this person now. I don’t have that girl to go hang out with, shop with, gab on the phone with. I don’t have that girlfriend to tell about my love life, to share my sadness, or my happiness. When I do my shows, I don’t have a girlfriend cheering for me in the audience. And worst of all, I don’t have that crazy girlfriend to ride shotgun with if I ever needed to do a drive by and slash some dudes car tires – not to say I would. LOL!

My last girlfriend has been out of my life for a good while. We haven’t spoken in nearly 2 years. I think of her often, and wonder how she is, but I cannot seem to bring myself to call her. I am not sure she’d want to hear from me, so I just don’t dial her number. And it hurts. I can’t even say she and I were still friends at the time we parted ways. We had been drifting apart for a while before our last get-together for a number of reasons. As my writing and my performing career grew, it seemed like she made herself more and more absent from my life. I would invite her to shows where I was performing, and she would never come, usually offering the excuse that her “boyfriend didn’t really like spoken word”, though she and I used to go to hear poets quite often before he entered her life. If I did managed to get her out for a girls night on the town, she spent the night texting and calling him, arguing about this and that, so much so that I just took her back home so she could argue with him in person. She never read anything I got published, though I would send her clips and links to my work. She never shared in my excitement about the things I was doing, never seemed to want to be a part of my happiness, though I tried to always make time for sharing her happiness. When she brought her first house I heartily congratulated her and brought her a housewarming gift. When she got promoted at work I made sure I sent her a long email congratulating her success and took her out for drinks to celebrate. But even then I felt the distance between us.

She would talk about her nine to five job and its headaches, and in return I would go on and on about where I was performing next, what concert I had gone to, who I had interviewed for what publication, etc. It felt weird to me, because our lives had become so different. Yes it was my job, but I still felt uncomfortable. Sometimes I would listen to myself and think I sounded like I was bragging. I would try to sound matter-of-fact when she’d ask what I was doing, but no matter what she would usually say things like “well ain’t you just a big old star now. Surprised you got time fot the little people like me.” And she’d laugh, and I would think about how many times I had asked her out to see me and I would feel bad. Sometimes I wouldn’t even tell her what I was doing because I worried that it might sound like I was trying to show off. I continued to invite her to events I was participating in, and she continued to not show up. I felt rejected by her, and it hurt. It hurt to put aside tickets for her at the box office or to save seats for her where I was performing, and to never see her in the audience after over 20 years of friendship.  It hurt to hear her weak explanations for why she never came to see me, never read any of my work, never told me she was happy for me. (She did manage to buy my CD after it had been out for a year.) But most of all, what hurt was our last conversation.

She had just reconciled with an ex of hers that I didn’t like very much. She had reconciled with him because he had started seeing another woman and she found out about it. So she went after him and took him back from the to other chick. Now I didn’t like this guy for her for a lot of reasons, but I have sense enough to know that you can’t tell people too much when they think they’re in love. But on one rare evening out, she informed us that they were back together and planning to marry very soon. When I didn’t comment, she asked me what I thought. I told her I didn’t think he was ready to be a husband and take on the responsibilities of being a dad to her sons. He had been out of jail about 3 years at the time after spending 8 years in jail, and he was still struggling to adjust to life on the outside. He was struggling to educate himself, to get a steady job, to make up for the development that would have occurred in him emotionally and mentally that didn’t happen because he was in jail. I told her I thought she should allow him the opportunity to accomplish some things on his own before he became a husband. I thought she should give him some space to establish himself, to at least get working. I told her it was very important for a man to be A MAN in a relationship, especially in a marriage, and that she shouldn’t set him up for failure by rushing him into marriage. I told her she should give him time to feel the sense of accomplishment that men get from achieving goals; I said that she should give him time to become a better man so he could be a good husband.

So she told me that if I didn’t have anything good to say about her man, not to say anything. Now I pointed out to her that I hadn’t offered my opinion until she asked, and that I would certainly keep my opinion to myself, but if she asked what I thought I wasn’t going to lie.

She then told me if I couldn’t be supportive of the marriage I couldn’t be her friend. I told her that I always supported her and would continue to, but I really didn’t think the marriage was a good idea. Would I try to talk her out of it? No. I told her that I felt like she was trying to dictate to me how I should feel about her marriage, and that wasn’t right. I told her I wished her only the best and I sincerely hoped that I was wrong about him. But in my heart, I just wasn’t feeling it. She then said, “I don’t expect you don’t understand, you’ve always had a man in your life who worshipped the ground you walked on and just adored you and idolized you. Some of us have to work with what we get.”

And that was the last time we talked.

And so here I am today, with my “man-tourage”, as one of my male friends jokingly calls my circle. Like I said, I love them all for different reasons. Collectively they are my rock; they support me and hold me down and even protect me sometimes, at times even when I don’t want to. I truly believe they have a great deal of love for me in their way, though it isn’t romantic love. They’ll even tolerate a bit of my woman blues, patiently listening as I bitch and moan about my cramps. I have even managed to “train” one or two of them to not flinch when I stop in shoe stores when we’re in the mall. They’ll go in the store, unafraid, and patiently watch as I examine the shoes, offering their opinion. They’ll hold my purse if need be, carry bags, etc. But still, I miss the meeting of estrogen; I wish I could find that woman to see eye-to-eye with.

I think I’ll go email Felicia…