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Friends, friendship and parcels of time

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Mar. 15th, 2009 | 11:47 pm
location: Ze leetle craft hovel at home
mood: calmcalm


A friend of mine wrote to me once about the value of girlfriends -- that in some ways, the deepest friendships among women need to be with other women.

I think it's taken me five years to recognize the truth in that. Not in an absolute sense as I took it (and perhaps as it was intended) at the time, but in a broader sense, a sense that understands that there is a kind of friendship among women that I have never had with men but that I am finding is actually necessary for my mental health.

I had some of my girlfriends over for a girls night on Wednesday. The invitation had been for tea and movies and crafting... and at some point, we did all have tea and chocolate and some crafting got done, I think, for everyone who turned up except me, but mostly we chattered about nothing and everything, about communication, men, love, romance, geeks... what we love about our lives, where our lives are difficult, the advantages and disadvantages of the Little White Lie...

We looked at pictures and we ate warm sweet potato pie with whipped cream that we spiked with ginger liqueur.

It was one of the most fulfilling evenings I've had in a while. As people left, I felt warm and glowy and loved and supported and understood. I felt lucky to have people I could gripe and vent to who wouldn't judge me or try to solve the problem, but would commiserate and offer advice. Somehow, offering advice has a way of being a lot different than solving a problem. It might result in a solved problem, if applied, but the implicit "take-it-or-leave-it" offered with advice is rather liberating.

I spent the next afternoon discussing the politics and wild world of yarn stalking (interesting because yarn businesses are so very dominantly run by and for women) and male and female jealousy with another friend. It was a wonderful discussion... I left because the time grew late enough that work called for both my friend and myself.

I am rediscovering the importance of both time for myself and time for my friends. This goes along with a realization that alone time and down time is a need and that one can actually accumulate a "me time" debt much in the way one accumulates a sleep debt. It is possible to continue functioning for quite a while without getting enough alone time, but the result is similar to long periods of being underslept. I have felt moodier, more anxious, more emotional, more reactive and generally prickly and cranky. I'm feeling a great deal better after having spent hours organizing my yarn stash and having visits with emotionally present and supportive friends and being holed up in my office (which is much tidier than it was!).

It's been nice to spend some time as a "being" and not a "doing." I need to remember to do that more often.

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Comments {5}

Kragen Sitaker

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from: kragen
date: Mar. 16th, 2009 08:43 am (UTC)
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I didn't realize you thought of me as a man first and a friend second. It isn't the way I think of myself.

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Kragen Sitaker

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from: kragen
date: Mar. 16th, 2009 08:52 am (UTC)
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...I realize that may sound like an attack. Please don't attempt to defend against it; I don't mean it as an attack.

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Liz

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from: stellae
date: Mar. 16th, 2009 09:10 am (UTC)
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It's an interesting response, really.

I have a lot of thoughts in response, most of which are half-formed, but I suppose they all boil down more or less to what identity tags I attach to myself based on my own experiences. I identify strongly as a woman because I have felt that being a woman has made a tremendous impact on many areas of my life. (For instance, given the standards and rules of the USA Dance association, had I been born a male and remained so, I would wear a tailsuit and compete as a leader, instead of wearing dresses and competing as a follower. It has nothing to do with my natural aptitude for either role). Similarly, I have noticed differences in my life as a scientist between being under the advisement of male versus female mentors... and noticed very different responses to virtually identical behavior between male and female graduate students in my program. That strongly colors my self-perception and thus my perception of friendships.

I could just as easily make divisions between emotional and intellectual friendships or American and International friendships, or racial-identity friendships or online and offline friendships and draw conclusions about the merits of each, but those divisions are really not as central to my world and therefore not things that I think about very often.

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Linley

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from: linley
date: Mar. 16th, 2009 06:09 pm (UTC)
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Your girls night sounds lovely; I am sad that I missed it. Let's get together soon--it feels like it's been forever.

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Liz

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from: stellae
date: Mar. 16th, 2009 09:36 pm (UTC)
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Yes! Now that I seem to have recovered from The Plague (tm), I want to get back in to going to yoga at least somewhat regularly...

And I do have this wedding to plan. :-)

What would be a good day to work together? I'm usually in the lab M, T, and Th; Wednesday and Friday are up for grabs depending on my mood and what I need to get done and so on.

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