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 clichéd, 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.