Why We Need to Cherish Friendships as Women
I should be working on an essay that is already overdue. There is laundry to be done. I have not paid my credit card bills. The bed remains unmade. It is noontime, Saturday, and the to-do list is growing. My weekend is all of one day because I work tomorrow.
There are other things I should be doing.
Instead, I am sitting on my unmade bed, in my pyjamas at noon, on Saturday, my only weekend day, writing about how important it is that women write about the women we love, because we don’t do it enough.
A new, beautiful friend has been visiting for a week. This is a new friendship. I have known her for all of a month. One month and one day ago, I sat behind her in a room, and we started talking. Then, eventually, she met my family, amidst the hullabaloo of my mother almost dying and my father falling very ill. She was very ill at one point too. All of us helped each other.
These things bring people together.
She is now another mother to me; a sister to my mother; a sister to my father, and a part of this small, tightly knit family. My heart has never felt fuller.
I wrote about my mother’s relationship with her yesterday, and I was trying to think about what was it that made it so special.
This morning, sitting on my unmade bed at noon on Saturday, I realise this. Friendships between women are hardly written about. We talk about our family, we spend an inordinate amount of time talking about our lovers (lord knows, I do), we talk about our relationships with our working colleagues and our pets, but we hardly see women talking, worshipping, singing praise, about their relationships with their women friends, their better halves, their sisters from another mother.
I had a conversation with my darling friend, M, months ago, where we talked about this, and we agreed that we both knew women we could set up lives with, a community of well-wishing and love, of happiness, of encouragement and strength. It was a good realisation to have, but also, slightly sobering because, well, why did it take us this long to figure this out? Why don’t we see more women talking about this?
My mother doesn’t have many friends. This has been a cause for concern in my relationship with her for as long as I remember. As an only child, friends have been my chosen family inasmuch as family has been my family. My mother comes from a sprawling family, and has never seen the need to step out of her comfortable bubble of her husband, her daughter, and her brothers and sisters. I remember my father and I sitting down with her, and telling her time and time again, how very important it is for a woman her age, who is slowly letting go of her various responsibilities (or rather, roles) by which she has defined herself for years, to do things outside of her little bubble.
It has taken her time, but finally, finally she is arriving. And in her journey towards her embracing other women, I am starting to understand the need in my life to cherish my relationships with the beautiful women I know. And not just to cherish it, but also, to write about it.
Our family friend is a firecracker, stellar, gem of a human being. She even looks like my mother; they giggle over silly things that only they understand, she has been introduced to all of our family, she has her own couch in our house (we have two couches and one of those is hers now), and her big, big heart has warmly welcomed all of us into its crevices.
It is a homecoming.
I want to write about this relationship because it is overflowing, over spilling with healing. These two women are patient with each other. They hold each other’s hands. They have sleepovers and talk about things that they need to talk about, experiences that they can only share with one another. My family friend (her name is S), has never eaten more rice in her life, she says. My mother keeps piling it onto her plate. S laughs, and then eats.
My mother’s eyes are glowing. She has never looked this happy. S brought my mother out on a late-night shopping trip recently. My mother swears she has never stayed up this late in her life. They laugh about how my mother sleepwalked her way around a multi-story mall. They hold each other, falling over with laughter. There are tears, but oh, what happiness these tears hold.
As a young woman who is watching the spectacular women in her life, I understand some things better. I understand that as a woman, it is almost imperative to make sure that I nurture friendships and relationships with other women; relationships which will give me the sense of community I need to deal with what life has to offer. I understand that there are varying shades of love, and some shades can only be better identified with women. I understand that there are tribulations and challenges that are unique to women alone; avenues are needed where these issues can be discussed, torn apart and reassembled to be made more manageable.
We are not taught, as young women, to appreciate such relationships. The world we live is in unfathomably competitive, and some of us get caught in the whirlpool of who’s-doing-what, and why-am-I-not-doing-as-well.
Watching women who help each other grow makes me slow down, makes me more conscious of my role as a woman, with other women. We are not taught these things. We learn as we grow.
S is leaving tomorrow. I’ve got a tiny lump in my throat as I write this but I also know that we will be seeing her very soon. Families, especially the families we find for ourselves, the families that we have chosen for ourselves, cannot be daunted by something as inconsequential as distance. There will be no goodbyes tomorrow. Only, see-you-laters.
All that I’ve been writing about, and sharing, can be simply condensed into this one word: love. That is what I am trying to say in my bumbling fashion. There is so much of healing love that these friendships give us. And it is about time that we venerate them, be thankful for them, and glorify them. As women, we have spent far too much of our lives not talking about things that matter. Let us at least start by talking about the other women in our lives who make a difference.
Imagine the healing. Imagine, the healing.
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