I’m off this morning to Florida to spend the weekend with my friends from Princeton. There are a couple of notable absences, but there will be a large group of us and I am eager for two days in such familiar and joyful company.
We all knew each other when we were becoming who we are now. Knew each other before we were mothers and wives and partners at McKinsey. Before we had real responsibilities, a smattering of wrinkles, and the occasional designer purse. We’ve shared a lot in the 14 years since we graduated: marriages, divorces, the perfect macaroni and cheese recipe, births, deaths, book recommendations, surprises both joyful and heartbreaking. We’ve visited each others’ brand new babies in the hospital and we have stood next to each other when we buried parents. We were and are each others’ bridesmaids and childrens’ godmothers.
We hold each others’ stories, and that is a unique and privileged position.
I’m still struck dumb, honestly, by the fact that women as fantastic as these would hold me dear. These are strong and intelligent and compassionate and beautiful and gentle and deeply human women, every single one of them. I respect the choices they’ve made, whether they are similar to mine or different, and I know I can trust them to be gentle with my decisions. With these women, I am as comfortable as I am anywhere else in the world. In their light, I am brave, not shy.
I think, again, of the powerful Adrienne Rich (who these women remind me of, because I wrote my college thesis on her) and of the line “There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep and still be counted as warriors.” We sit down together, we weep, we laugh, and we are all warriors. All in our own way. But we are safe together.
One of our favorite things to do is to sit around and look at old pictures. Pathetic, maybe. Entertaining, absolutely. Just a few of the many moments we’ve shared; I’m sure there will be hundreds of pictures from this weekend to add to the pile. I can’t wait.
I wrote this several days ago … and while my loyalty to and love for my friends has not waned, remotely, I felt a wave of trepidation wash over me this week. I’m feeling fragile, and raw, and my instinct is to hole up under my covers. I’ve never had thick skin but in the last few months I feel as though it’s gone entirely; it’s not easy or particularly fun to go through my days without any shield between me and the world. My true safe havens are few. Here’s hoping the company of old friends this weekend is one.