I can be an acquired taste. People can really, really like me right away. We haven’t said more than two words to each other but they are sure I need to be their child’s godmother. On the other hand, I say “Hi” and they think “Who does this bitch think she is?” I almost have nothing to do with it at all.
And yet I do OK in terms of friends. I have a tight circle of close friends, a nice diverse selection of acquaintances, and two or three archenemies. Sometimes that surprises people because I’ve moved cross country a lot. But most of my friendships are location independent–meaning I could have the same relationship with them no matter where I live. Moving to Austin was a little different than most of my moves because I knew people who already lived here. In NYC and Chicago, I was essentially starting over with no local friends. Living near people I like to spend time with right off the bat was a new experience I was happy to take on.
One of those friends was Cecelia*. Cecelia is awesome. She’s smart, funny, and beautiful. She’s a writer like I am but has more commercial success with her fiction work. She has a very sweet husband who buys her things like nerdy t-shirts and books she loves. She doesn’t have children, which has always been the death knell of any friendship I have. (I don’t have children and I don’t want children so eventually my mommy friends go off to find other mommy friends, leaving me to do jello shots at Dave and Buster’s on my own.)
Cecelia is delicate and dainty in a way that means she doesn’t eat like a truck driver and you can’t hear what she’s saying from three blocks away like some people we know. (*Cough* *Cough* Me.) She goes to the gym. She has cute little dogs that she posts pictures of the Internet. She speaks multiple languages. She drinks tea instead of coffee. She drives a cute foreign car that she has named Winston.
Essentially, Cecelia is the perfect friend–someone you can have fun with, yet inspires you to be better than you are. She’s the type of person you wish you could skin and wear like a wet suit. Yet, you don’t do that because that would mean you couldn’t go to lunch with her anymore. We’d been Internet friends for years and now we were going to get a chance to take this to a face to face level.
After I’d been in town for a couple of months, I received an message over Google Chat from her. It was just had three words:
I miss you.
I was writing something for a client and eating something full of sugar when it popped up. “Oh shit,” I said through a mouthful of half chewed food.
Women’s friendships are complicated. There are all of these convoluted rules. Two plus two equals five in a girl friendship. And that’s equal parts because women are emotional creatures socialized to play that side up as a sign of femininity and the fact that humans are batshit crazy animals. Still, I find it’s worth it. No dude will ever watch Mob Wives with you with no comment. No dude will ever talk with you for four hours about how you feel about a text message from your ex. And if he does, he’s only killing time until he meets his boyfriend at a gay club because he is obviously a homosexual. . . so it doesn’t really count.
But I’m not here for this “I don’t have any women friends. I can’t be friends with girls because they are so full of drama and so jealous of me. Men are easier” bullshit. We connect with who we connect with but if you are someone who refuses or is unable to be friends with any woman, there is something broken in you. It’s nothing to brag about. And to trot it out like it’s some sort of accomplishment just means you’re all of those things and also have no self awareness at all.
There are all kinds of women in the world. I am a woman who likes video games and quirky tee shirts and red lipstick and bowling and action movies and sitcoms and dirty books and dogs and The Real Housewives of Any-Damn-Where and eating. Another woman who loves those things or complements those qualities isn’t difficult to find if you’re not dragging around some sort of baggage that prevents you from taking your head out of your ass.
But I’ll admit I don’t necessarily get some of the nuances of girlie girls, though. I’m not going to ask about the calorie content of food very loudly in public places. I don’t really know how to whisper. And missing someone I’m not having sex with is odd to me. Especially when I just got into town and it’s not like we hang out every day. Missing someone is a big commitment. Missing someone is saying, “Hey, you’re an important part of my everyday life and when you’re not here there’s a void.”
I reserve “missing” for things like my husband, The Hills, and the McRib. (Not necessarily in that order.) Someone I have a casual fun friendship with and see about once a month doesn’t get “missed.”
I sat there in mid-chew for a moment considering my dilemma. I really, really wanted to be friends with Cecelia. Knowing that women’s relationships are complicated, I knew that misunderstandings could kill a blossoming friendship faster than I could kill a houseplant. She would be telling her other friends “PJ is such a fucking bitch. I told her that I missed her and she didn’t even respond. Who does that?”
I thought about how that would get passed along the Underground Women Gossip Railroad, a place where you find out who’s a ho, who doesn’t follow back on Instagram, and who isn’t a girl’s girl. “PJ isn’t a good friend. PJ has no feelings. PJ can NOT come to the Annual Vaginas and Potpourri Brunch for good female friends. And don’t you dare tell her about the Boobs and Shoes Sleepover, either. She is done in this town!”
I imagined going from house to house trying to get someone to debate the merits of several slightly different shades of red lipstick until I could just break down and buy all of them. But each time someone would open the door to see me standing there pitifully on the step with my lipsticks, they would say “Not. A. Good. Friend” and slam the door in my face.
I’d already started to think about the logistics of moving to another state so I could have brunch friends again when I heard a little ding. I looked back down at my laptop screen and saw that Cecelia had sent me another message.
“Sorry! That was for my husband. Hahahahahaha! That would be crazy if I actually meant to send that you.”
I breathed a sigh of relief and thought to myself, “I’m in still in the game.”
*Obviously not her real name. I’m still trying to be her friend after all.