Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Life without girlfriends...

Tomorrow, I'll be heading to the Texas Conference for Women for a full day of seminars and roundtables and talks. I'm excited about the information I'll learn, the ideas that might inspire a blog post or lead to a new client.

All day long, I'll be surrounded by other women, many of them moms and wives and bloggers like me. Some of them probably scrapbook, others love jazz or dogs or old bookstores, and I'd be willing to bet that at least a few like getting together at the last minute for lunch or a late night snack and a long talk about everything and nothing.

But after over a year in Texas, I have given up hope of turning any of those chance meetings into a friendship.

We (all of us, but especially women) live in bubbles. We who work from home, or those who make their home their profession, work alone.  Drive alone.  Shop alone. Raise children with a spouse...or do that alone, too. Women who go to a workplace are cautioned to avoid making friends there...so even amid the worker lunches, meetings and projects, we remain essentially disconnected.

And when that urge to meet someone for a chat after the kids are in bed strikes, we pull out our computers or tablets and login to Facebook or a blog or Pinterest, and try to fill our need for girlfriends there.

But no matter how we tell ourselves that the online connections or the casual conversations at church or our kids' school events or in line at the store count as human interaction, we know in our hearts that it never quite fills that hole.

When we go to events like the Conference, we exchange business cards and blog names, and then move on, returning home with a bag full of cards and vague impressions of the people behind them.  In the bustle of running from seminar to roundtable, we pass in halls, share a table for a few minutes or an hour, and then we are off to the next event. 

And for those of us who have moved from state to state, or even country to country, the effort of starting over again and again, and trying to build relationships that last for more than just the time we share the same geography becomes exhausting.

We live, most of us, in lives without girlfriends. We live without face to face time with other women who really and truly know us.  We accept "friends for now", and dance around the impermanence, knowing that when a job or a spouse's job or a child's school needs or a new house somewhere else calls, those "friends" will move on (or we will), and the dance will begin again.

The question is, then, if our in-person time with other women is so seldom what we crave and need, why do we keep pretending?

Is it better to tell ourselves that what we can get from our brief (or virtual) connections is enough, even as we yearn for something more?  Or is it better to just accept that, as sad as it is, true friendship among women...real lasting, sustaining, growing friendship that lasts through years, that exists within the reach of a hand or close enough for a hug, has vanished into the past?

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