Put two men in a space ship traveling our galaxy for 20 years and after splash down, the only thing they’ll know about each other is how much they like Derek Jeter. Put two women in a stalled elevator for 20 minutes and they’ll know each other’s marital status, number of children, favorite shoe sales, problems with stretch marks (if their younger-problems with acne) and when their next periods are due or how they’re coping with hot flashes. It’s just the way we are. I’m not saying men don’t have close and deep friendships… well, maybe I am.
If I didn’t know the deepest thoughts of a female I worked with or lived near or went to school with—I’d call her an acquaintance not friend. If she didn’t know what was in my heart—I wouldn’t call her… at all. Female friends are by definition; funny, smart, compassionate and only as honest as necessary—after all, do you really need a friend to point out your recent weight gain?
When a friendship blossoms, blooms and yet doesn’t fade, it reaches a new status; sisters from other misters. I’m not sure when it began, but for some time now, Lyn and I have called each other sister. Not that we borrow each other’s clothes or have hair pulling cat-fights or borrow money we have no intention of re-paying like actual siblings: We are more sisters of the heart.
Lyn and I met when I moved next door to her parent’s house. I was newly married and then (as now) six years her senior. She was a college student who couldn’t wait to get out of New York. By the time her parents and I were long time neighbors, Lyn and I had settled into quick hellos and goodbyes on her occasional visits home. Our seasons of life moved on. I had a son. She married and had two daughters. I divorced, she divorced. I remarried; so did she. We both became teachers, but certainly wouldn’t have forged a relationship on shop talk.
The one string that tied us year after year was the love we had for Lyn’s mother. Now, before you think I was an orphan looking for a mommy, let me elucidate: I had my own mom whom I loved dearly. Lyn’s mom, affectionately called Ducky, was more like a favorite aunt. I look back on some of the happiest days of my adult life, when Ducky would invite me for coffee. We’d sit at her tiny kitchen table covered with a starched flowered tablecloth, curing the ills of the world between nibbles of her buttery jam cookies. When the sun dipped below the trees, I’d cross her lawn to my house with a full belly and a wiser heart. It was heavenly knowing Ducky till heaven called her home.
Within months after Ducky’s death, Lyn and I logged in hundreds of long talks, reminiscences, and unbridled sobbing. We began a regimen of pre-dawn walks whenever she came for visits. As her dad, now 93, aged, her random visits to NY became monthly sojourns. And while we still may cry together, our topics have morphed to match our new lives.
I left teaching to become a novelist. She became a memoirist; soon to leave her teaching career. When we’re not sitting side by side at my kitchen table, we’re talking over coffee on our cell phones. No issue is taboo; no subject of the soul is hidden.
Perhaps, I was too harsh when I hinted the friendships of men were shallow, for while it takes only minutes for women to bond, we may need two decades to find the sisters of our hearts.