There have been times in my life with women, and times without.
When I was a teen, for example, it was all about the boyfriend. Boyfriends, I should say, as in serial. But I guess we could well argue I wasn’t a woman at 14, or even 18, so let’s move on.
In college, while I had a few women friends, life still revolved mostly around serial boys. It was only when I graduated that the First Age Of Women began. My boyfriend was now long-distance, my workplaces well-populated with women. My roommates and neighbor-friends-round-the-block were women. I suppose that’s the life phase shown in Sex In The City, except we didn’t say that then. Or live quite that way – but I digress.
Then I settled down with the man who became my first husband, and began my career in a male-majority industry. I had one woman friend in my office. One. And we couldn’t really hang out – we got teased if we did. Ah, the days before sexual harassment laws were not so golden my dears.
The Second Age Of Women did not begin until I gave birth to my daughter. Home for the first time, looking into the blue eyes of my baby, I knew I needed compatriots. I joined a mother’s group hosted by a local birth center, and even when that closed we kept on. For something like 8 years we met, in our houses, in the park as children grew, and at monthly dinners once we could get free at night. Stay at home moms marvel the first time someone else puts their baby to bed.
I met my best-friend-to-this-day during those years. I walked by her house in houndstooth leggings and a gray cotton tunic, carrying my baby son on my back and pushing my daughter in a stroller. She ran out of her house, crying, “Wait, wait!” She had two little girls of similar age to my children. We had so many adventures in the years that followed, at zoos, on beaches, in parking lots. One could never know what would entertain our children, so we ventured far. When the kids were in school, she and I would walk for exercise, talking ourselves up and down hills for an hour or more.
But then I returned to full-time work, again in a male-majority industry. You know the drill.
So now it’s been interesting to see blogging, and this retirement, bring more women friends into my life. Interesting is the wrong word. It’s been joyful and lightly surprising, like the first ripe peach of summer.
Last Sunday I had a 4-hour lunch with Audi, of the now-dormant Fashion for Nerds, Deja Pseu of Une Femme d’un Certain Age, and Sally McGraw of Already Pretty. You see all of us smiling afterwards in the photo above. We had planned to shop after eating but the conversation was so easy, entertaining, and enlightening, why stop talking?
Coming together as women, at this age and in this era, is pretty damn fantastic. In my youth I had so many fears – that other women were more put together, more traditionally feminine, more apt to like each other than me. I sat fidgety in my metaphorical chair at the table. Now? Even when the old anxieties start up their cicada sounds, I either talk myself down or confess. I find I am so often forgiven. Because other women have had similar experiences; the roller coaster, the big mistakes, the startling happinesses like light through trees.
Maybe young women these days talk just as we did last Sunday. Maybe it’s not this age but this century I’m feeling. I hope so. Here’s to women around tables anywhere – may we all flourish. And what about you, if I may ask? Have you always had women friends? The same for decades? Or new with each phase of your life? The Third Age of Women has begun, and I want to know your stories.
Have a wonderful weekend. The peaches are ripening early in California.