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March 29, 2011

Girl Friends

If I had actually ridden a bull and/or sung karaoke and/or done a blue shot instead of sipping it over the course of twenty minutes, no one (or at least fewer of you) would roll your eyes when I say I'm co-opting Friday night at the Cadillac Ranch as my alternate-universe bachelorette party. Although I did drink (sorry, Bulleit, but when in Nashville it's Jack or nothing) and I did backup dance onstage to "Midnight Train to Georgia" (just call me Pip), I was far outside the circle of attention, and despite a culture that sometimes makes it seems as if there's only one way to have fun, I liked it that way. I can take photos and watch purses and cheer everyone else on to greatness and not live in fear of vomiting in the gutter, and that is ever who I am and probably who I will always be.

Also very me: As we were wrapping up dinner in town, I was feeling so full and cozy that I didn't expect the wave of enthusiasm that overtook our group as plans came together (thanks for a party of Vanderbilt boys) to "go get our drink on" at a bar instead of return to the house and recline. Get my drink on? I'd had some wine in the limo and then a salty dog (greyhound with a salted rim; delish) with dinner, so I was pretty much set for the night, thanks.

Also also very me: When we got to the club, I realized I'd forgotten my ID in my traveling pants and truly believed I was going to have to sit alone on the street for four hours because I couldn't ask the bouncers to break the law for little old me, even though it's apparent I've been on the other side of twenty-one for more than a decade. (They didn't care; they let me in, as any normal person would have known from the start.)

Anyway, it was a really fun night, and my already meager appetite for that type of partying has been sated and then some.

I wrote last week about feeling like I don't know how to be a regular human person sometimes, and this is especially true--although much less so in recent years--when it comes to spending time with a group women in particular. I always feel like I don't know when I'm supposed to be grossed out by airport germs and when I'm supposed to be okay with wearing p.j. pants out in public and exactly how embarrassed I should feel as a woman on the verge of her thirty-second birthday having never had a massage. (At least I have embraced the idea that I should pay attention to the shape of my eyebrows and have already undergone a bikini wax, nevermind that it was only once and three years ago.)

The thing that I keep realizing, though (and perhaps one day this will stick in my goldfish brain for good) is that the different ways we do things honestly won't keep us from connecting on other common ground. Now, I won't make the amateur mistake of claiming that a group of women like the one I was in last weekend was "diverse"--at least not diverse beyond the ways in which a group of twenty- and thirtysomething women who have the budget and lifestyle to support blogging (not to mention the budget and lifestyle that support flying to Nashville for a retreat weekend), but there are still enough differences among us that I came away going, "There are as many ways to live a life as there are people to live them, duh," and that's why I take it personally when people dismiss these events as clique gathers for "certain types of people," to the express exclusion of others. I don't get worked up because I'm defending my clique, I get worked up because people who think it's a clique are dead wrong.

On Saturday night, AB Chao looked at me and acknowledged out loud the slim chances we'd have been drawn to each other and become friends under any other circumstance. I used to say the same thing to Will. The same is true for dozens of us. We accept invitations and take chances and take vacations and then happen to curl up on the same loveseat as someone whom thirty minutes later has convinced you to book a trip to Monroe, Louisiana, so we can introduce our husbands and children.

Here's the truth of it: Blogging facilitates closer, faster friendships because even if we don't all read each others' sites regularly--if at all, because who has the time?--the mere fact that we have that quirk in common means it's easy to move past the smalltalk in short order and find ourselves doing intensely personal things like giving each other permission to say and think and do things we might not think we can or should say, think, and do, whether it's as innocent as using certain swear words or as deep as feeling things about our lives, our loves, our wants and needs that we might never have dared to feel without someone from the outside saying, "It's okay."

I've never had a lot of girlfriends, and I never was really, deeply close to the friends that I did have growing up, in part I think because I came of age in a place where keeping up appearances was the biggest part of keeping up appearances, and no one could afford to be too different. Although I recognize that's also human nature and that our tendency to judge is not likely to ever go away completely--there are as many ways to live a life as there are people to live them, for better and worse--I thank the twinkling universe that when someone points at internet friendships and says, "Don't be fooled; that's not what it appears to be," I can smile and nod and say, "You're right. It's even better."

The stars in the sky of backwoods Tennessee are the same stars in the same sky as anywhere else, but out there I could see more of them, and more clearly, than I ever have before.

(For those who have asked, the retreat wasn't a business/marketing/networking type thing, it was Maile inviting a group of girlfriends along while she did a photoshoot of the newest Epiphanie bag with Alli Worthington. Nothing was sponsored, and there was no swag (although some people were nice enough to bring gifts) and it was good times from the beginning through the moment I was informed of my two-hour layover in Texas being extended by three more hours.)

1 Comment

Ok, so I was going to be all witty,
but seriously, cannot get beyond the last photo ...
I may have to come back later.
(nothing beats a weekend away with a bunch of girls, and if you are taken a little out of your comfort zone, good things really can come of it ... so a little jealous, yes, a little)

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