Remember making friends as a child? You’d spot someone at the playground, walk over and ask if they wanted to play, and—POOF!—just like that, instant friendship. Sadly, adulthood complicates the friendship process. As we age, we accumulate so much emotional baggage that it seems to prevent us from making those quick connections. Yet sometimes, the magic can still happen.
I have friends, some who have been in my life since playground days. But somehow, somewhere along the way, I have slowly started to feel a disconnect. There haven’t been conflicts, just a stretching further and further apart. Lives get busy, jobs are demanding and personal challenges push us into protective shells or trigger others, and they just don’t know what to say. We tend to hang on to our adult friends for many reasons, and certainly the lack of ease in making new adult friends is a big factor. Often, though, long-term friends just aren’t meeting out needs anymore, similar to the slow fade-out of a discontented marriage.
Last year, I became reacquainted with a girl, now woman, who went to my high school. I don’t think Nancy and I ever acknowledged each other’s presence back then, as we hung out in different circles; she was part of the “cool” kids clique and I definitely was not. But that night, she came for drinks with some others from back in the day, and there was just this ‘click’.
Over the past year or so, we’ve been tentatively extending friendship towards one another. She’s been hurt in many ways and so have I, but we forged on, grooving on the feeling that we just always seem to get each other. She was the first to say it, to tell me how glad she was that we had connected and how much she was enjoying our newfound friendship. Although I had the same feelings, I was too shy and insecure to express them, initially. Then came the compliments. I hadn’t gotten these from other women often, but she kept them coming, offering herself and her open heart in friendship so earnestly that I was almost scared to believe it was real. I began to share my platonic girl-crush feelings with her also, letting her know how much I appreciated her unconditional support and her special way of offering guidance without making me feel stomped on, scorned or ridiculed.
This was the kind of adult friendship I hadn’t realized I needed, and I was thrilled to have stumbled upon it. Was I falling in love? Absolutely. Not the kind of love where I wanted to jump her bones (despite how hot she is) but the kind that lifts you up, makes you feel good about yourself and makes you want to be a best friend in return. And so it came to be that we reached the pivotal test to any relationship: a girls’ road trip.
Now, some women are easy travellers. They use the bathroom quickly, they don’t snore, they pack lightly. I am not one of those women. So I had a fair share of anxiety about attending a pre-planned Girlfriends’ Getaway Weekend with Nancy. Would this trip cause cracks in our seemingly idyllic friendship? On one hand, I was thrilled. I sorely needed some soul nourishing after a very difficult phase in my life, and the itinerary of focused girl power seemed to be just the right tonic. However, I also knew that living together in a hotel room could place stress on a new-ish friendship that we might not be ready to take on.
We’ve all been on that trip with the girlfriend we thought was awesome but who ended up being the cheap, inconsiderate, nightmare of a bad drunk you can’t wait to be rid of after two days together in close company. Hell, I’ve been that girlfriend myself, so I worried as much about her reaction to me as I did about how she would behave while we were away together.
The three-hour drive was close enough to be bearable, yet long enough to be full of intelligent discussion, and a little respectful debate. It was also just the right distance for laughs over many stories and jokes. And then we arrived. We quickly realized that our biggest source of conflict would be Nancy’s love of blasting heat in sharp contradiction to the peri-menopausal flashes my own body was already generating for me. Thankfully, we managed to negotiate this potentially fatal weekend killer without her becoming an ice block or me spontaneously combusting in flames. She got the sole extra blanket for her bed; I slept with the covers thrown off mine. She agreed to turn off the fireplace at night; I ran around in panties and tank tops while by day, she cranked the heat. We attended the welcome party and marvelled at the number of women in themed costumes, sharing giggles at some of them. We chatted with the groups of women partying there while noshing on the huge buffet of food. Thankfully, she loves to eat as much as I do so I never have to feel embarrassed about chowing down when I’m with her.
The next morning, we enjoyed the gorgeous beauty of the Muskokas and attended workshops, again connecting in our opposition (mentally and physically) to early-morning exercise classes and our lack of motivation to take the resort shuttle to shop in town. Instead, we preferred sitting and chatting while pigging out on the bags of junk food I had brought and then came our unspoken agreement to climb into our respective beds for a delicious afternoon nap.
Never underestimate the bonding that can occur via simultaneous naps. At one point, it almost felt like we should be snuggling in together. After a second night of live music, dancing, drinks, and women going wild over shirtless calendar firemen, we lamented our age, aches and pains and numb-yet-sore feet in the heels we were wearing. I was grateful that we were both ready to hit the hay earlier than most of the ladies there. It’s possible that Nancy loves sleep even more than I do. Like an old couple, completely comfortable with silence between us, we were happy to chat only briefly before nodding off.
Unlike my husband, Nancy didn’t complain about my snoring, simply popping in her earplugs and joking the next morning about my log-sawing. And while it may seem superficial, there was another defining moment when I realized this relationship was made to last. Sharing a bathroom wasn’t awkward at all. Instead, my newest BFF and I were both astonished and delighted by how many of the same beauty products we use. Right then and there, it became obvious that we were destined to be friends—as only women who use the same face wash and under-eye concealer can be.
Jackie Gillard is a freelance writer who spends half her time worrying that it’s too late in the day for coffee, and the other half wondering if it’s too early for wine. She firmly believes being a second wife to her second husband, a stepmom to her teen stepson and a mom to her daughter entitles her to such vices. She loves cats, but she’s simply a “Cat Enthusiast” and not a “Crazy Cat Lady” because of her refusal to decorate with cat chachkies, or wear cat-themed clothing. You can find her scribbles in Today’s Parent or on her own neglected blog MyPapayaJambalaya.