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Ephemeral

February 15, 2011

This post has been sitting in my drafts for over a week after a particularly shitty pity party. I’m publishing it now so my blog doesn’t feel so neglected, too.

“Why is that? The flower is the most beautiful thing on my planet!”
“We do not record them,” said the geographer, “because they are ephemeral.”
“But what does that mean–‘ephemeral’?” said the little prince, who never in his life had let go of a question, once he had asked it.
“It means, ‘which is in danger of speedy disappearance.'”
“Is my flower in danger of speedy disappearance?”
“Certainly it is.”

We’re inundated early: The Baby Sitters Club, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. It continues into adulthood: Sex & the City. The elusive clique, those women you can refer to as “my girlfriends,” the ones we’re supposed to have Friday lunch with, annual cruises with, the ones who know the things your significant other doesn’t.

I don’t think I’ve ever had this group of women. Or if I did, the feeling was so fleeting that it hardly counts. I’ve always been solo or had just a single best friend. I think back to grade school and only remember a best friend, no clique. In junior high, the other cheerleaders were so petty. In high school, there were four of us. We were a barbershop quartet. We were fantastic. But the three of them graduated a year before me and I was left alone. In college, there was a core group of women but I always felt like an outsider, an intruder, an afterthought. I was on the outside looking in. I didn’t live with them. But they were in my wedding and once I was married, it seemed I wasn’t even an afterthought—I was a non-thought.  But that’s okay, because I had my blogging buds, right? Sure, there was the first group of Vegas girls (2009 represent) and there are the girls who met in Indianapolis in 2010… but it seems even my closest buds have moved onto more inspirational blogging pals, better writers, better photographers, better GChatters, better networkers…

I don’t have G-chat or Skype buddies. I’ve been chasing the elusive group of gal pals my entire life.   I’ve spent more time feeling left out than I have feeling included.  I want to know that there is a miniature tribe of fearless woman that I can fall back on, whose plans will always be constant, whose rituals never change. I want to be able to count on someone excited to see me at our annual who-the-fuck-cares event.  I want to feel like a worthwhile friend.

Some people search relentlessly for a man.  For me, that was the easy part. I need soul sisters. I just want to feel included in a group of strong, inspirational women. I want to feel like I’m part of something. I want to say “my girlfriends” and actually have someone to refer to.  Quite frankly, I’m tired of looking and I don’t think I’ll ever find my Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha. (Full disclosure: I had to look the characters up. I’ve never seen a full episode.)

Can you truly have friends for life? Or will they always come and go? Am I forever doomed to be far more invested in a given friendship than she is? Are friendships ephemeral?

This was one of those “hard-to-hit-publish” posts. Trust it took all the courage one can muster in a funk. I know the comments I’ll be getting will be along the lines of “Go out and find your girlfriends!” “Make an effort!” “You know you can always talk to me!” I don’t want encouragement, but thank you for the nice thoughts. I want to mourn the loss of the elusive clique that I doubt I’ll ever attain. Mourning and moving on.

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27 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2011 7:12 pm

    I know what you mean. And please know – you’re not the only one who feels this way!! I’m lucky to have a few, very close girlfriends, but I’ve never had that core group that some travel with for their entire lives. Even my husband has a group of friends that he’s been hanging out with since high school – over 10 years ago!

    Not sure where else to go with this beyond making sure you know that you’re not alone in these feelings. And that you’re insanely brave for posting this!!

    ❤ HUGS

  2. February 15, 2011 9:05 pm

    I was going to say pretty much the same – no trite cheerleader words here. I have always had but one or two close girlfriends at a time. I’ve never fit in well with a group, though I learned over the summer that having a few close friends versus a whole bunch is a sign of a self-actualized person … which is a good thing, I guess?

  3. February 15, 2011 10:01 pm

    I have written this post at least three times on my blog, especially when I got to the point where I was thinking about planning my wedding and was like OMG WHO’S MY MAID OF HONOR? The girl who is my MOH is a girl I met at work a couple years ago. She lives close to me, so that made it easy to pick her, but she’s not my best friend. I’m no one’s best friend (except for my fiance, but he doesn’t count). I have a lot of good friends, some who are more good or less good at different times. But no best friend. I don’t know, I think it’s probably more normal than we think, especially since I hear this so often nowadays.

    If you want to be G-chat buddies, I’m on Gmail at amblass@gmail.com. 🙂

  4. February 15, 2011 11:00 pm

    1. ONE OF MY MOST MY FAVORITE BOOKS EVER. I bought it while we were in Rome, and read it right after my grandma died while we were on the northern Italy trip. It changed my life.

    2. I totally feel you. I’m basically a home body. And I live with 2 girls from my major at SMC (who I love dearly). But I seem to be pretty lonely and by myself a lot. Good news is, I find friends in the books that I read.

    Let me know if you and Joe ever want to see a show at Victory Gardens. If I can’t get comp tickets, I can get half price tickets!

  5. Ashley permalink
    February 15, 2011 11:50 pm

    I guess I have a group of best friends, a collection of 4 girls I’ve known since first grade, fourth grade, and 6th grade that I’ve stuck with over the years.

    However, I am the one who moved away. I moved to a different state for college, grad school, and life for the time being. They all came back after a year or two, and stayed close if not in our hometown.

    Whenever I would go home, I would try to get everyone together to hang out like we used to, and it’s gotten harder and harder to do this. I finally realized that my so-called group isn’t really a “group” anymore, and I’ve stopped trying to “get everyone together” when I grace my hometown with my presence. I’m lucky if i see one or two of them on my semi-annual trips home. And not once have they visited me. Ever.

    I guess the moral of my little story is that having a core group of girlfriends is very rare, if not fictional (though it does happen to some lucky few). I rely on some friends who happened to move to the same place as me after college, and some reliable, consistent acquaintances to meet my friendship needs. Also, finding other couples to do things with has helped out a lot as well.

    Thanks so much for posting this- I’ve just been coming to terms with this myself, and I’m a bit relieved that I’m not alone. 🙂

  6. prettylittlereckless permalink
    February 16, 2011 12:39 am

    Thanks for posting this because all I gotta say is- meeeee tooooo. Yeah I’ve had BFF’s and even one that has remained a good friend since 6th grade, but I’ve never had that group of gal pals to do things with. My friends aren’t friends with each other. I seem to have these little tiny groups of friends, but it’s all very separate. Idk. I wish I had the group of ladies to do things with. I like going out, but definitely need people to go out with!

    Oh and I don’t have gchat/skype buddies either.

    See? You’re not alone! I could’ve totally posted this myself.

  7. February 16, 2011 1:03 am

    Anyone who quotes The Little Prince is a friend of mine. 🙂 In my experience, friends do come and go as we change, grow and move forward in our lives. I moved so much growing up, that it was impossible to “grow up together” with anyone, much less an entire group of women. And to be honest, I’ve always had more guy friends. I have been fortunate to find a handful of epic one on one friendships with women though. Some were fleeting, but life changing. Others will last a lifetime, but will continue to change over time. Even online, most of the people I talk to are acquaintances, not best friends. I spend time with my blogger friends, but I am not online 24/7 like so many people who can literally talk all day to each other. Most of my close friends are married couples now and they generally plan big events and trips with another couple. Who wants to invite a third wheel? 🙂 But this isn’t about me… this is just me trying to say what others have expressed – that you are not the only one who feels this way and that if you ever want to talk about grad school, West Wing or gaming, hit me up. 🙂

  8. February 16, 2011 4:27 am

    Friends come and go. I’ve had many a girlfriend in my lifetime, but I can’t say that I’m still friends with a lot of them. Elementary and middle school? Nope. High school? Maybe a few whom I see once every six months.

    These past five years, I’ve had my Charlotte, Samantha, and Miranda. But in the past three months, we’ve all started to go our own ways: “Miranda” moved to Oakland to be live with her boyfriend, and “Samantha” moved to another country to teach English. “Charlotte” and I are still here, but I’m still sad to see my once close-knit group of friends disbanding so quickly.

    I think the majority of female friendships eventually end or wither away due to life changes. But there are a select few that will stay together no matter what, like the SATC girls’ did.

  9. February 16, 2011 8:51 am

    I’m pretty sure I could have written this post. In high school and college I usually had that one best friend, but we moved a lot so I usually lost touch with them and had to start over. Now that I am done with school I am finding that making friends is so much harder. I have some girls I can talk with but most of them are having kids now and that just makes it even more difficult.

    Just know that you aren’t alone in feeling like this! I actually think it’s more rare for girls to have the group of best friends, like Sex and the City, etc.

  10. February 16, 2011 10:16 am

    So here’s the thing. I think you’re a brilliant writer and a super crazy awesome girl that really wish i lived closer to so I could do all that fun BFF stuff with. BUT, I am on GChat 24-7 and I always answer my emails within like 2 minutes of getting them if i’m in my office and I feel like we should be talking more. I don’t have any married girlfriends and it’s tough. 2009 BISC REPRESENT. 🙂

  11. February 16, 2011 10:30 am

    I realize you said you do not want encouragement but I have to speak up. Your post made me cry. I applaud you for hitting publish and putting this out there. Moreover, I have always felt the same way and I know it isn’t easy to admit it outloud. I was thinking this just this morning while walking to work, but kept it to myself – afterall who would I tell. Surely not that group of girls that doesn’t exist. I live with my boyfriend, but the girl department has always been challenging for me. Everything you said struck a chord with me. For me personally, I always put my friends first, did the right thing, the nice thing, but no one ever seemed to see that. I watched as the mean bitchy girls bonded and had their core groups but not me. I had friends in many groups but never that group of “the-four-of-us” or whatever the number might be. I thought, why does bitchy win and nice lose? but I didn’t want to change to be like them even though I wanted a group too. A bunch of my college sorority sisters live here and I see them occasionally but I always feel like a second thought. Would our friendships continue if I were in a different city? You and I are in the same city (well I believe you are in burbs) and would love to grab some tea (I don’t drink coffee) or something. Let me know. But Remember- stay true to who you are. We’ve never met but its the others that are missing out.

  12. February 16, 2011 1:15 pm

    I always felt I was on the outside looking in or the odd man out growing up. Being an adult has only made it more apparent for me. Cluing in to being an introvert certainly doesn’t make it any easier to meet potential friends and so I remain stuck. Thanks for sharing – at least I know I’m not alone.

  13. February 16, 2011 4:01 pm

    Oh Renee, I completely get you on this. I feel the same way. I have a couple close friends, but they still also have their friends. I’m kind of on the outskirts of all my friends’ little groups. I pop in every now and then, but it usually doesn’t feel right. Maybe because they already have their little thing going or there’s not enough room or I’m not (fill in the blank) enough. Whatever the case, it makes me sad because I want soul sisters too.

    I think you’re wonderful and I think you’re a fantastic friend. I do think we should hang out more. This living on the opposite sides of the city and two trains away nonsense is really dumb.

  14. February 16, 2011 4:02 pm

    I can definitely relate to this. I always struggled to be part of the ‘in crowd’ in my high school. And even in college, I didn’t live on campus, nor did I join a sorority, so I never really had any close girl friends. Or, at least any that I would consider being best friends with.

    It wasn’t until 2009 when I started forming close friendships with 2 girls who live in the city, and it wasn’t until lately when we started meeting for Sunday brunches/pot luck dinners.

    The girl friends I have now (even the ones I’m not that close to), I’ve only known for a few years. And the girl friends I was really close with in high school and grade school, I don’t talk to anymore. As the years pass, we all grow up, move on, and our interests change.

    It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.

  15. February 16, 2011 10:37 pm

    Yes. This. Especially now.

    Sigh.

  16. February 16, 2011 10:43 pm

    All right, I’ll chime in, too. I was never able to make friends with girls quite as easily as I was with boys– guys let you get away with a lot more awkwardness, whereas I’d always found a lot of girl-interactions to be a little fraught. Don’t get me wrong, though, I’ve had a couple close female friends, but so many of those friendships have seemed to be (yes, you chose exactly the right word!) ephemeral. Seeing all the fun others are having on Facebook, Twitter, and the like…well, it doesn’t help. I guess it’s comforting to know that others feel this way– and I’ll totally be g-chat friends with you! 🙂

  17. February 17, 2011 4:24 pm

    Me too.

  18. February 17, 2011 11:57 pm

    Claire: “Do you want to hear my theory?”
    Drew: “Of course.”
    “You and I have a special talent, and I saw it immediately.”
    “Tell me.”
    “We’re the substitute people.”
    “Substitute people?”
    “I’ve been a substitute person my whole life. . .I like being alone too much.”

    Claire & Drew from “Elizabethtown”. When I heard the phrase “substitute people”, I realized that was the feeling that I had been trying to identify for my entire life.

  19. February 18, 2011 10:03 am

    My friend group is constantly changing. I both love it and hate it. Lately mostly hate it. Those I consider my good friends? Don’t live close to me AT ALL. It sucks.

    The only constant? Those I’ve met through blogging and my mother. That’s it.
    I have two friends I’ve known for a long time; one 20 years and one eight years, but even that is tough at times.

    Side note: I’m on gchat a lot. So I’d love to make a date with you. And rigorous coffee dates are SO in our future love. You get it. I get it. It works 🙂

    Love you.

  20. February 20, 2011 3:39 pm

    This. I’ve felt this and written on this a lot.

    My close friends are too far away from me and the pain of that is hard to bear sometimes.

    You are not alone. At all.

    And I love The Little Prince.

    I’m always a GChat/e-mail/tweet away.

  21. Leanne Behrns permalink
    February 22, 2011 1:14 pm

    I was the one who moved away, but even then and there I didn’t feel like I was a true part of the group. I didn’t feel like they’d miss me if I was gone. I worked a lot to save up for school and soon the phone calls to hang out just stopped.

    Even worse than not having that clique, is thinking you’ve found it and learning it was all just a convenience and not that true-blue friendship we were so indoctrinated with at a young age. Someone mentioned “substitute people” and that fits perfectly. Some of these people were my friends merely because I was there – not because they legitimately cared about me. After I moved, I took flights across country to visit my “best friend.” I was to be Maid of Honour for in her wedding. But she couldn’t forgive me for moving away – it was too “selfish” of me. I was replaced with someone more convenient, who tried less hard, and barely showed up for the actual wedding itself. I was heartbroken.

    I have a lot of acquaintances now, but only one or two girl friends who I feel I can open my heart to and spew out all of my feelings and hopes and despair. Finding close girl friends has been like a neverending treasure hunt, constantly keeping an eye out for a sparkly gem of a woman I can relate to and open up to.

  22. February 27, 2011 12:56 am

    I will agree with you and the other who commented about this being my situation. Sometimes I’m afraid of making friends due to the fact that I’m always looking over my shoulder wondering what circumstance is going to make the friend(s) looking to back out of their friendship with me. Elementary school found my best friend dumping me hard and fast for the popular girl. We had both talked about how mean she was and how she always talked and acted like she was better than most of us. As soon as said popular girl took an interest in my friend, she quickly dropped any interest she might have had in me. Being young, naive and a person who believes in second chances, when my friend came around, I thought she wanted to stick around. Little did I know she and popular girl were simply using what I said to my friend as material for fodder. I even trusted my friend by telling her that about the first guy I had a crush on. Sadly, this guy was popular girl’s boyfriend. I wanted to try to be friends with both of them but they always left me out and only needed me when the two of them of were fighting or if it had to do with school work (I was always on the principal’s list, yet another reason for people to make fun of me). As you can imagine, it was pretty exhausting.

    In high school, I swore I thought I found my Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha. Things were great until I got that feeling that they wanted to drop me. 9 times out of 10, whenever I feel that, I’m right. It just so happened my junior year, a week after my birthday. Perhaps they felt that they were being nice? The worse part is that some of the reason they used to abandon me is because of some rumor and one of them used a secret that I disclosed to her 6 months ago to her “advantage”. Had she really wanted to end the friendship, she would have done so after I told her what I said, not because everyone was jumping on the bandwagon.

    I think I’ll get along better with guys but, even then, I don’t know if I’ll ever stay attached and keep them around for a long time. I’m afraid that getting older will only weaken my chances, as I’ll be 25 this year. It’s strange that I stumbled upon this article because I was just thinking of this subject today. Perhaps it’s something that I have to come to accept, as you so perfectly wrote. I think folks in our position should definitely keep our eyes open but not be all that surprised if nothing turns up.

    Thanks for this. It was an excellent read.

  23. February 27, 2011 4:58 pm

    From reading the comments it looks like you’re FAR from alone. I don’t think I’ve had a core group of friends since junior high–I’d have several friends, but they weren’t friends with each other and it would just be awkward when I tried to bring them together.

    It’s hard to find that, and it can be so lonely. I’m a terrible homebody also, which probably doesn’t help much!

  24. March 5, 2011 8:12 pm

    I know I’m a million years late on commenting on this, but I completely feel you on this. And have spent a lot of time thinking about the same things myself as I’ve gotten older and my friends and I are no longer as close as we once were. I’m hoping that I can find my group, again, but if I don’t, I think I am OK with that. … And I am more than OK with having another meetup with you and the girls because, let’s be honest, it was refreshing and invigorating to spend that weekend with y’all.

  25. March 9, 2011 1:36 pm

    (Catching up on blogs finally.)

    Here’s the thing.

    Online relationships are great because they’re convenient – when you feel like being social, there are people in your computer to make you laugh and support and be supported by.

    But it’s also convenient to let those relationships fizzle without meaning to – because they’re not people that you’ll see at school or work or encounter unless you’re intentional about reaching out to them.

    I gave up Twitter for Lent not only for the practice of self-discipline but because I find it impersonal and generic sometimes. Instead of sending an email or text to a specific person, I send a message to everyone…it’s not as intentional a communication. Anyway. I’ve been thinking a lot about relationships lately, as well. Why are they so much harder (in general – online or off) to maintain once you’re an adult?

  26. Stephen permalink
    June 7, 2011 1:08 pm

    This emotion of missing something you probably may never had is not just endemic to women, either. With men, it’s very difficult to share emotions with each other openly without thinking that a sarcastic response may be forthcoming. I feel an outdated social pressure to keep some things to myself, rather than disclose too much or face ridicule. We’re all afraid to actually let down our guards enough to create some of these bonding and lasting relationships, and the simple gnawing truth is that “things change”. All of the time. It’s a gift when you can pick up where you left off with a good friend you haven’t seen in ages. Sometimes we have to be grateful that they were there for you (and you for them) at that time in our lives when we were together; it doesn’t diminish the good memories of them, but it does create a wistful ache and wish that things were like they were. It’s tough to just be a human being every day sometimes. Be kind and be open to new friendships is the best I can do.

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