Friends can be the ‘secret sauce’ when it comes to succeeding at something. They’re the ones who encourage you, praise you and sometimes even give you a kick in the ass when you can’t reach around to do it yourself. They can be the glue that keeps you together.
Most of my close female friends are far away. Sometimes I really miss them.
Now it’s not that I don’t think of them often. I do. But it’s in a sort of ethereal way…like lovely background music that you somehow take for granted but would be looking around for if it suddenly was gone. They are not there in their entirety every single second. It’s not a band; it’s music filtered through a scratchy loudspeaker. Static and all. But it’s there. It’s a constant but a quiet one.
Then – out of nowhere – BAM! I hear a funny story or watch ‘Beaches’ on Netflix or smell cheese fondue and memory goes on overload. I miss them so much, I can actually feel them. And I have to call them. Or Skype them. Something. Chatting on Facebook will just not cut it.
And I know that old cliché is true: We all need friends.
I wish I had a best friend living a few blocks away, as I did for many periods during my adult life. But I don’t blame anyone for straying from that idyllic place in memory that we all started from. We are all brave, adventurous, compassionate women whose paths have been defined by a combination of sheer balls and pure service, and we went with the flow…sometimes afraid but never resistant. The fact that we are spread over the globe is no surprise. We were just flowing.
Friends are so much more wonderful than lovers. It’s easier not to take things as seriously with friends. You can really let your hair down. The harder edges of living are softened.
When I think back over my life, so many of the parts that stand out were things that I did with close friends. Almost every weekend when I was a young twenty-something, I would walk from all-the-way up-town in New York City to all-the-way-downtown with my friend Mindy – that’s 160 blocks. And it was a private ritual to spend half the walk back complaining. It would begin with “My feet hurt” and “I’ve got a cramp” and launch into a laundry list of ridiculous ailments that made us sound like eighty year old grandmothers. But somehow that always got us through the last lap, laughing.
You can do things with friends that would be excruciating if you did them with anybody else. I once booked a job catering a wedding with two girlfriends; the dishwasher broke down and we had to wash hundreds of dishes – not to mention champagne flutes – by hand. It took us all night and we talked about it for years. All manner of stuff can happen in the lifetime of a friendship. No doubt, sprinkled in there with all the good stuff you might just have to go through some evil shit together too. That’s the nature of lasting friendships. Hell, it’s the nature of life. But somehow you come to laughing about it in the end. Even if the laughter comes after tears and ice cream… or a bunch of weird tropical fruit.
I remember one time when my friend Alisa, and I owned a café. We were sitting out in the back parking lot under this lone tree that didn’t belong there any more than we did, talking about all the problems we were having with the place at the time. Our electrical breakers kept flipping, our Vitamix was smoking, patrons were being asphyxiated by a caravan of penniless, pungent hippies who had taken to weaving on some portable loom in our rear dining area and one of our cooks had just been hauled off by the police for dealing marijuana. Somehow the conversation segued into hashing over this interview we did for a local paper and how I had confessed that I never wanted to own a restaurant. “You were the smart one!,” she commented, “ Not me. I had to do it. This was my dream”. We were quiet for a comma, mulling this over, when Alisa suddenly got hit by a wave of realization.…”I’m livin’ the dream.” We both looked at each other and burst out laughing. We couldn’t stop. It didn’t matter what happened at that point. The café could of caught fire and blown up in front of our eyes. We were in hysterics.
You don’t have that with everyone.
Anyway, all these memories got me thinking. The greatest thing that could happen to anyone is to have a good friend as your (almost) raw ‘wing’ woman.
Find a friend that is willing to get raw with you. Because whether it’s changing your diet or starting a new exercise regime or just learning some completely arbitrary thing like snowboarding, rock climbing or painting on pin heads it’s proven that you can stick to your guns if you’ve got a friend around whose “livin’ your dream” too.
It’s how I did it. Yes. A friend introduced me to this whole thing. And the rest is history. One minute I was roasting a chicken and the next I was happily dehydrating eggplant ‘bacon’.
If you don’t have to go it alone, DON’T.
When you’re starting anything new one of the most important things is support. And there is absolutely no better way to feel supported than to have a friend by your side going through it all with you. For your part – depending on what you’re doing – it can be a little sadistic. Bring in a buddy and make her suffer too. But it’s the surest way to make it fun. It takes the gruel out of grueling.
And FYI – if you ever decide to live a friends dream, you might just find that it ends up becoming your dream too. It’s happened to me.
Hands down, it was one of the best times I ever had.