But there were lots of cool things I missed out on, too. Braids and barrettes, high heels and skirts, learning how to apply makeup. I've figured most of this out in the last ten years or so, though I leave the braids and barrettes to my daughter.
It's just been the last couple of years that I realized: at some point, most of my friends were guys, and I was okay with my girlfriends really just being friends who were girls. Sure, I had plenty of girlfriends when I was little - Marisa lived down the street, I could ride my bike to Rhea's house, and Susan and I were practically inseparable through middle school. For whatever reason, though, as I careened through high school, it was simpler to be friends with guys. Then into the pressure cooker of West Point - where being an over-the-top Type A competitive achiever was just average; you were first judged on your physical appearance and physical fitness; and there were ten guys to every girl. Mix it all up, and it could be hard to form tight bonds with women beyond the circle of your own roommates.
Fast forward fifteen years, through ten years of marriage, two kids, career changes and eight moves, and I think I've finally figured it out. It would have been great to have had more girlfriends in high school, and it certainly could have made some things easier at West Point. But the lack of that super close, talk-on-the-phone-everyday friend makes me treasure what I've found that much more.
As it turns out, I had girlfriends all along: relationships forged in the furnace of our cadet years and tempered in the in-between years as we were all busy with the Army; kids; starting careers; just generally going a thousand different directions at once. And now - now that I understand a little better how to balance it all and can catch my breath more than just once in a while - now I'm able to reach out to those women. Now I've figured out that we were all just waiting for the right moment to be there for each other.
Last night was one of those special and rare moments. I'm in Baltimore for work, and three of those wonderful women, who know me like only a classmate can, came together from D.C., Howard County and Philadelphia (via Staten Island thanks to a business trip, might I add). They drove through torrential rain and ridiculous traffic just to grab dinner and a few laughs. Okay, a LOT of laughs. Like, people at the next table commenting about our volume level lot-of-laughs. But when you only get to see your girlfriend once every five years or so, you make the most of it.
So here's to you, Angela, Melissa and Sherri. And here's to the beauty of grownup girlfriends.
|Sherri, Melissa, Amanda & Angela - beautiful girlfriends|