I talk about my "friends" quite a bit. I was blessed (if I may brag a bit) with the gift of making friends easily. I love people, I love to talk, I love to laugh, I love to have fun and generally, people want to be around people like that. So it works out. As I mentioned in my Facebook rant, I have over 400 friends on Facebook...and know all of them.
I do, however, understand the difference between a "friend" and a "FRIEND", you know what I mean? I'm very close to lots of people I've met since moving to Texas...some of them I pretty much consider family. Most all of the close friends I've made here are totally the kinds of friends you call when you run out of gas on the side of the highway because you have ignored your gas light for 3 days in a row. Or to get advice on the best place to buy a new car, find a dentist or put your kid in daycare. Or when you had the crappiest day imaginable and need a margarita. Hey, those are good friends...don't misunderstand me.
You all know by now, I'm a Louisiana girl...I was born and raised there. I lived in the same house my entire life and went to the same Catholic school for 13 years. I have friends that I have known since BIRTH. That is no exaggeration....one of my closest friends' mom has a "bump picture" of her and my mom when they were pregnant. She and I were born 6 days apart! We have, literally, known each other since the womb. I also have a friend I've known since kindergarten...and her mom and my mom happen to be close friends as well. My other super-close friend from Louisiana moved to my hometown in 7th grade, so we've known each other since junior high. The four of us were not always close...in fact, there are times I look back to junior high and high school and remember us in totally separate crowds. The two cheerleaders, the drill team girl and the mouthy speech/rodeo kid destined to end up best friends?? No way! (Sidebar: Betcha can't guess which one was me?)
They're not so much friends as sisters. After 30+ years of knowing someone, there are pretty much no secrets you can keep...even if you wanted to. We are one part Steel Magnolias, one part Friends and a dash of The Breakfast Club. We have survived junior high, high school, college, sororities, parent's divorce, cancer, boyfriends, renting apartments, break-ups, graduate school, single-life, marriage, buying houses, pregnancy, fertility issues, drug problems, money problems, a husband sent to war, career issues, deaths of loved ones and adoption. We don't talk everyday, but we all know what's going on with each other and check in regularly. We are so different in our likes/dislikes and our personality traits, yet very much the same in our values and beliefs. We are so much like family that we can disagree with one another and the idea of breaking off the friendship NEVER crosses our minds because, quite simply, family stays.
All those "Hollywood stereotypes" of Southern women may be a bit cheesy (Um, hello, bad accent, poufy hair and mint juleps? Yeah, we'll keep our normal accents, ponytails and Miller Lite, thanks). BUT there are definitely grains of truth in them. The strength, the depth of emotions and the ability to put a good face on top of all of it...all of these are character traits of these women I call my friends. It actually makes me laugh to think we are old enough or responsible enough to even be called "women"...when we get together and start talking and laughing, we sound much more like "girls". In fact, a couple of summers ago when one of us had moved to California, we all went out to visit. We ended up in our pajamas drinking wine, playing board games and talking until 3:00 am....still having slumber parties at 30.
So this weekend, I'm heading back to Louisiana....to be surrounded by these women who have known me longer than I've known myself. We will laugh, we will celebrate, we will talk...and ultimately, our souls will be fuller for it.