You know what’s really weird? Somehow I’ve gotten kind of popular. I WAS NEVER THAT GIRL. I was always the new girl, first of all, and I was the new nerd girl to boot. I was the really weird new nerd girl. And then, as an adult, I was always with my kids, or then in college and graduate school, and then working too much in New York. The way my life was organized in New York, I did things with friends one or two at a time, and had my small circle and that was that.
But since I had to start from scratch here in Austin, and since I jumped into meetup, I’ve made a whole bunch of friends who all know each other, to varying degrees. It’s fun — an entirely different way of doing friends than I’m used to, but fun. This week I went to a happy hour at Fonda San Miguel on Tuesday with some of the gang (co-ed), about 19 of us, and Wednesday night I went to another happy hour at Salty Sow with just the women, about 16 of us. At Salty Sow my friends seemed eager and very glad to see me (as I was to see them!), and as I sat listening to the various conversations, and joining one after another, I thought about something that’s been bubbling in my mind for a while, this idea of “women of substance.”
There are lots of women who come to these things, in my general age group, and of course I click with some and don’t click with others, for all kinds of reasons — interests, interpersonal styles, personalities, politics (though that’s not as much a hurdle as you might think), stages of life, maybe just the luck of the ease of a starting conversation. The women who have become (and/or are becoming) my good friends are extremely different . . . from each other, from me . . . but they all share a set of characteristics, I noticed. They’re smart. They’re creative. They’re down to earth. They aren’t bullshitters (I’m too old for any more bullshit). As Ann Richards said in her keynote address, we talk about how the cow ate the cabbage. We’ve all been around a great many blocks, we all have had pain and disappointments and plenty of starting over. We’ve all raised children. We’re all looking for other smart women. We love to laugh, and can be silly, but we are not silly women. Also, they’re not neurotic! That’s been such a refreshing thing — they’re pretty solid, they know exactly who they are, and they’re not always fretting and anxious and second-guessing every last thing. Strange, but so refreshing. I have yet to detect any competitiveness or jealousy, which is also very refreshing. We’re just busy being ourselves and enjoying each other.
Partly because I was married to a psychotherapist, partly because I was in a lot of therapy, partly because I am bent that way myself, and partly because it’s just kind of the New York way, my life for the last ten years has been extremely psychologically focused. Everything was analyzed, turned over, investigated, I wonder what’s really going on with her, what’s underneath, what’s behind, why why why. And I enjoy that, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t until I got here that I realized it was time to get out of my head quite so much. Many of my friends have done therapy, and they read a lot, and they can go there, but really? They’re just living their lives, having a good time, playing, getting off the couch, so to speak. My health coach Jeff said something similar — at some point you just have to get off the couch and make different choices. And so I go to happy hours and parties with my gang of friends and we laugh and make plans to play golf or bunco or go to concerts or to get out on the lake at 6am for some early morning kayaking before it gets too hot. We put our arms around each other in trouble, we give advice, we laugh. We talk about books and what’s happening in the world and our kids and men (a frequent topic, current and past men), and what it’s like to be who we are, where we are. Many of us are single, and most of us are in our 50s. I have yet to hear a single “poor me.”
It’s the most bizarre thing to me, being this woman. Really, so so strange. This is just another stage of my life that I never saw coming — like all the others. But if you’d asked the weird lonely new girl hovering around the edge of the playground if she could imagine this life, she’d have thought you were crazy. If you’d asked the scared and lonely young mother if she could imagine this life, she’d have felt lonelier because it was unimaginable. If you’d asked the depressed woman I’ve been several times if she could imagine this life, it would have made absolutely NO sense to her, as if you were speaking Vietnamese.
Happy Friday, y’all. We’re thick in the heat of summer, a long run of 100+ days in a row. Once again, 103. 103 yesterday, today, and tomorrow. August in Texas. Love to you, my dear women of substance who read my blog. xo