Growing up, though I didn't consider myself popular, I didn't lack friends. Like every girl in the history of time, we fought. And often. But at the end of the day, my best friends were always there. They still are.
My elementary years came before the AIDS scare, so like idiots, we were out there on the playground with cotton balls, rubbing alcohol, needles and the promises of whatever being a blood sister meant to us. We spared each other in tag and underdogged each other on the swings at recess. We drank out of the same Coke bottles and shared our Snak-Pak's at lunch. How we didn't end up with some incurable disease is beyond me, but we didn't.
Junior High wasn't much better. We shared brushes, curling irons and clothes on those impromptu sleepovers. We swapped spit with boys in the neighborhood and probably shared a few punches, too. Boys were dumb. At least that's what we told each other when one of those little bastards would play tonsil-hockey with the slut down the street. We always had each other's backs, unless of course our enemy was bigger than our best friend, then we were on our own. Seriously? Who the hell was gonna go up against Large Marge or The Gooch?
High school is when things became a bit different. We still had each other, but as we developed more of our own interests and personalities, we also developed hormones. Your best friend may be your best friend one day and your worst enemy the next. And you never knew from day to day which day it would be. I made a lot of friends during these years, but I lost a lot, too. As graduation drew near, we seemed to mend fences, though and swore to keep in touch no matter what the future held. Or at least that's what we wrote in our yearbooks.
But we didn't always keep in touch.
In fact, some of us lost touch on purpose. We went off to school or careers or marriage or families - sometimes all four at once. Regardless, those girls who knew us better than we knew ourselves were left in the past. We developed new friends and relationships. As we grew older, we became "couples friends" with neighbors and coworkers. We did things as families instead of with our girlfriends. Hell, by the time our thirties rolled around, we didn't even have girlfriends anymore.
Somewhere along the way, though, I realized that wasn't good. My only identity came from those around me - _____'s wife or ______'s mom. So-n-so in accounts payable. What's-her-name from next door. That gal who teaches children's church. I no longer had interests for myself - music was whatever was on the radio, tv shows were whatever Disney or Nickelodeon offered, clothes were whatever fit and wasn't (too) dirty. My hairstyle became a ponytail. Every. Day. Of. My. Life. Even photography and scrapbooking was focused around my family. Who the hell was I anymore?
Nobody I even recognized.
I always thought that "contentment" was what I strived for in life. And truly? I was content. I loved my husband, my kids and the things we'd accomplished in life. But something just didn't feel right. Almost like something was missing.
Oh yeah. ME!
When New Kids on the Block announced their reunion tour, it gave me an excuse to get in touch with old friends from high school who'd shared my love for the group. We called, emailed and visited each other for the first time in over a decade. They gave me a reason to find my inner "girl" again. We reminisced about the music and the videos, but we also recalled the times we spent together as kids just being silly. And we became silly again. We became US again. College-educated, stable, well-established in our relationships...we found ourselves smiling and laughing about things that had nothing to do with our husbands, kids or careers.
We started spending time together without our families. Dancing. Dinner. Movies. Drinks. Road trips. Weekends away. We rekindled relationships with each other that we'd left behind years ago. And in all our adventures, we'd met and developed relationships with new girlfriends. We share our lives on a daily basis. We vent, we joke, we plan, we support, we love. We love. We love.
Some people I know would like to think that I'm immature or need to get my priorities straight. That I'm cheating myself and my family out of time spent together. They don't understand what it's like to have everything you ever wanted and not have it be enough. They don't get that being a mom and wife is a full-time job all by itself. Sure, there are good times. But overall, you're too busy doing laundry, grocery shopping, or wiping butts, noses and counter tops to really enjoy it all. All you want is some semblance of the life you had before you did those things....before your life went somewhere....else.
The strength of a woman's abilities are immeasurable, but for God's sake, don't doubt the power of a friendship with one, either.