A dear friend of mine posted this amazing article today on my Facebook page with the message “There is a specific shout-out to you in my new column.” Now in some situations this statement may have made me weak in the knees, worried what in the world is being said?! But this, this is an homage to women and their friends everywhere. We are so lucky to be able to form bonds that withstand a lifetime. From walking hand in hand to school to dance lessons, boyfriends, zits, proms, diets, college, careers, loss of loved ones, marriage, children, LIFE. I am so incredibly lucky to say that I have some fantab friends, all of who I am far closer to than any blood relative. Thank-you to all the women who have made me who I am today! What a great article! To read more from Denise pop on over to Dee’s Living Will.
How safe is your vault?
Before there was “LOL” there was “LYLAS,” which was written at the bottom of passed notes between girls. It stood for “Love Ya Like a Sis.” It stood for “Our friendship looks like water, but feels like blood.” If your mother described you and a friend as “joined at the hip” or “twins,” it was a high compliment. In childhood, friendship like this is sealed at the edges of swimming pools or in pine tree forts, and there is whispering. In adulthood, this is your own Fellowship of the Ring. You will choose your band of sisters through work or your running group, because your children helped you find each other or because you got thrown together as roommates freshman year. Because of her strength, great loyalty, sheer charisma, magi-cal powers or willingness to chill, you love your like-sis. You fit together like chili and corn-bread—she feels good to you.
This is a column about friendships between women. From the life-giving to the blood-sucking, from advice-sharing to calling out those problem moments, I’m here to discuss what is cool and tricky about chicks and their peeps. An expert in making friends, I can’t go to the dentist without coming home with a new one. And why not? Hygienists rock.
To be a good, true friend, you must, you must, you must be able to keep a secret. (And if you never share your secrets, good luck getting the good stuff in return.) Good friends are part priest, part therapist, part commiserator, but great friends are formed through close calls with ogres and other adventures. It’s more than just shaking your head over coffee saying, “Wow. Wow! Are you kidding me? That’s crazy.”
If you’re the talker: Don’t try out big secrets on new friends. If you’re the listener: Imagine there is a little steel box under your right rib cage. We will call this “the vault.” Inside the vault is a wall of little safety deposit boxes. Occasionally, your friends will need to rent one. Why? Because they feel it would be dangerous or stupid to keep this gnawing concern/deed/dream under their mattress.
Once upon a time, I was a bank teller. Allow me to review the rules: Accessing your safety deposit box takes approval, keys and signatures from both customer and bank agent. Sure, the institution can find ways of getting into the contents, which is to say, I know you can blab this all over town, but when your friend says, “What I’m about to tell you goes in the vault,” she means, “Don’t even tell your husband.” Can you do that? Yes, what she told you is juicy, but you need to hush. In fact, pretend like she didn’t tell you. But then, why did she tell you? Because women are storytellers, and secrets aren’t secrets for secrets’ sake. Secrets are the truth.
Not to be juvenile, but humor her. Say, “I swear.”
O.K., let’s be juvenile. Remem-ber telling secrets long after “lights out”? Talking and talking until you realized your friend had fallen asleep? Remember riding home
after tennis matches, knees up on the back of the seat in front, telling secrets to your best friend? You know the shorthand. The text or the message will be short—
“Call me when you get a chance”—and you will know you are needed.
Sometimes you’ll hear stories and you haven’t been sworn to secrecy (you may be drinking wine). No shoulder-shaking, lowered voice “keep this to yourself” preamble, but just two ladies on a porch. Between you, though, you have come to this, a place that’s good if only you both understand some very basic transactional procedures: Listen good. Ask questions. Make children go away. Hug. Remember. Forget. Follow-up. Grab the tissues. Buy paper towels that are specifically made for spilled guts. Don’t just say you want to have coffee—be available. Practice “shock without disapproval” as a facial expression. Compare, but don’t one-up. One-up if you’re sure it will help. Don’t sound like her mother or your mother. Channel her mother or your mother if it will help. Don’t repeat what you hear. Put her secret in your vault and put “trustworthiness” on your big, bad gratitude list. Go your way. Keep loving her like a sister—it helps.
Denise Stewart is a local writer, actor and business lady who loves her screenwriting group and drinks with twists. She is someone I am lucky enough to call FRIEND!!!
Have a great weekend!!