12 June 2008

Here's to You, Here's to Me, Friends We Shall Always Be

When I started grad school in 2003, I met the other women who were in my program and they all seemed like interesting, fun, intelligent women with whom I had a lot in common. At first, I was a bit fatalistic about making friends with them though—I had only had two lasting female friendships up until that point, and our English master’s program was only two years long, after which point I figured we’d all be moving away from this little town. “What’s the point?” I asked myself. “It’s not like we’re going to be friends for more than two years anyway.” But I took that leap of faith and made friends with them, and five years later I’m so glad I did.

My grad school girlfriends and I formed a tight-knit group, hanging out at a local bar with the English grad students’ association, eating great food together at each others’ houses, and sitting and gossiping in our offices between meetings with our students or when we stayed late to write papers. Several of us got married during or immediately after grad school, and we held wedding showers (and one at-home wedding) for which I always made a rich chocolate ganache cake. We took day trips to Warm Springs to “take the waters” and stopped for picnics and antiquing along the way. After our graduate program was over, a few of us moved away, but a small core of us remained here. We started an email listserv to keep in touch and continued to hang out as often as we had time to do so.

Now one of us, S., is moving away because her husband is starting law school in another city about 3 hours away. Although we’re still close enough to visit, it feels like the end of an era.

Last week, S., B., and I went to see the Sex and the City movie. I think we couldn’t have picked a better activity for the waning days of S’s time here. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie (despite the negative reviews) because of its depiction of a group of four close-knit friends. Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte stuck with each other through good times and bad. They were fast friends even when the men in their lives were unreliable jerks, but they also were there to celebrate when one of them found love. That’s the true love story of the movie—not their relationships with their boyfriends or husbands—their lasting relationships with each other.

After (admittedly clich├ęd, but delicious) cosmopolitans at our old watering hole, I bid my friends goodnight with a hug and went to meet my husband nearby. I kept thinking about the movie and my “Grad Gal” friendships, and also about my very dear friend K. who now lives in California. A bit tipsy, I called K and left her a message telling her that I’d seen the movie that night and that I missed her. An hour later, she called me back to say that she’d also seen the movie that night, and that she missed me too! What serendipity.

I can't believe that so many women buy into the misogynist idea that it's not as good to have female friends, that it's somehow cooler to be "one of the guys" and a badge of honor to have more guy friends than women friends. My strong friendships with K, with the Grad Gals, and with my other women friends have been so important to me--they have sustained me. I'm sad that we're all beginning to go our separate ways, but I know that no matter what we'll stay in touch and stay friends for many years to come.

8 comments:

Brandy said...

Well said, D! I know what you mean about getting invested in new friendships. It does feel like a risk and heartbreak because life always seems to get in the way of maintaining them. And though I believe we english grad gals will remain friends, even if we didn't speak to each other ever again, I'm so glad to have known all of you. And any heartbreak or sadness I might feel over the divergence in our paths, that cost is well worth the times we have together.

D. Jain said...

Aww, that's really nice Brandy. On the verge of tears at work here...

Krisha said...

This blog really hit home. It has been my experience that men do come and go in your life but your true girlfriends have the stamina to sustain time and all the challenges and celebrations that come with it. It is a blessing to have girlfriends to dance through life with - especially those who truly know everything about you, and love you all the same. Bravo!

Marcela said...

Wow--wasn't aware that so many women considered female friends to be second rate. Glad I went to a women's college--didn't have those kind of attitudes and more lasting friendships. Anyway, came across your blog since I might be moving to blacksburg but was worried because it was so small and among other things because I'd be one of the very few women in computer science coming in. So wanted to get some perspective on living there and maybe chat before moving. Thanks!

D. Jain said...

I don't know Marcela, maybe it was just the girls I knew in undergrad or something, but I noticed that the ones who thought they were the coolest or toughest liked to say that they were one of the guys or something.

Drop me a line if you want to know more about Blacksburg! I love it here. Are you coming for grad school?

Marcela said...

Yah, I definitely would like to chat about Blacksburg! I was accepted to the PhD in computer science program and am still a little worried about whether I'll survive 4-5 yrs there!

Marcela said...

Oh, how should we talk then? Gtalk? AIM? Call you? I have questions--I really want to find out more about Blacksburg! My gtalk id is on my profile for regular email...

K, E, & M said...

Growing up, I think I always wanted to be "one of the guys". It really wasn't until i had kids and stayed at home that I met women and felt bonded to them. Suddenly I had something in common with other women. Suddenly I *needed* other women. I feel the same way about my "mom friends" as you do about your english gals. We have been through miscarriages, successful nursing, happy marriages, failed ones, and so many other life events together. Like you, I feel blessed to have given up the "one of the guys" mentality and embraced the feminine. I think I am a better person and a better friend because of these bonds.

(Although being one of the guys really does help get you through engineering school and help you blend in while working in a male-dominated profession!)