I have been truly lucky in my life in terms of the quality of female friendships I have experienced. As much as I love being in a romantic relationship with a man, the love in a girl friendship is somehow much sweeter. I tenderly look back at the hours on the phone every night giggling and gossiping over a shared secret. I remember long summer evenings at summer camp on the screened-in porch playing jacks. I can’t look at a piece of chocolate and not think back to the nights of gorging on Reese’s Pieces and watching all six hours of the BBC’s “Pride and Prejudice”… on VHS. Due to many circumstances, best girl friends have wandered in and out of my life for years. I moved, they moved, the event which brought us together ended — there are a myriad of reasons why a girl friendship can die a natural death. It is always a sad event, but when distance or time is the major culprit, these girl friendships often dissolve as innocently and seamlessly as they began. While I do remember these girl friendships fondly, I do not think they will be revived. Our moments together were magical, but they were just mere moments. Of course they added a richness and texture to my life, but I think those girl friendships will only live on in my memories. It’s bittersweet to watch the end of these girl friendships, and I have often tried to keep them together even after one of us has moved, but there is often the inevitable drifting. There are other reasons, however, that girl friendships end, and in these situations there is usually nothing but raw emotion at the end.
There have been three major girl friendships in my life where one of us did something to destroy the relationship. I know my language is harsh, but I doubt there are strong enough words to express the pain when you have been hurt by your girlfriend, or even worse, when you recognize you are the one at fault. With the first one, well, it was so long ago I can’t remember the exact details. I know I must have been about 10, it was at summer camp, and know that in no uncertain terms I was the one in the wrong. I can’t remember my exact motivation, but I do remember telling my friend’s secret to another girl. Knowing my insecurity at that age I was probably trying to impress this other girl or boost my popularity. Whatever my reasoning, or lack thereof was, my friend found out. The gory details of the friendship breakup has gotten foggier with time, but I clearly remember one teary scene where she asked how I could have done this to her. I am not sure if the guilt hit me at that moment, or if it grew over the years. What I do know is that at the moment I blabbed I could not have possibly conceived of the consequences. I didn’t miss her right away, probably because I was too busy defending myself and trying to hold to whatever friends I still had. At some point, when my self righteous crusade was over, I grieved. My young heart was broken and it felt like there was nothing I could do to fix it. The combination of youth, insecurity, arrogance and fear prevented me from taking some grand action to set things to right.
What could I do now? I truly don’t know, it has been so long. I am sure she remembers me, but I wonder if she remembers how things ended. Maybe she erased me from her memory after I hurt her and just vaguely recalls that I was some girl she was once close to. I could reach out, as I know she is also now living in New York. Frankly, I probably won’t because I am terrified. Terrified to confront her and terrified to own up to what I did. Perhaps too much time has gone by on this one, but I do not believe that a girl friendship cannot be regrown. I alluded to two other difficult girl friendship breakups, one of which I am not ready to discuss. The gist of the story is that this time I was the one betrayed and I am not ready to forgive her. I think she has tried, but I know I am prejudiced and would have disregarded her earlier attempts at patching things up. I am not particularly spiteful, but while I wish her no ill will, I am not ready to regrow that particular friendship. This happened a year ago, so maybe time will indeed heal my wounds. Maybe it won’t.
After my melancholy musings, it seems unlikely that I will end with hope for the regrowth of girl friendships. Nope. I waxed on poetically of the joys of girl friendships, but I didn’t go into great detail about the inherent complexities in them. Complexity is not a detriment to friendship, but the very reason why girl friendships are unique. Girl friendships are intricate webs of shared experiences, thoughts and emotions. Considering all the elements that create these relationships, how could they be anything but volatile? My best friend and I have certainly had our fair share of ups and downs. There were years we were inseparable and years we didn’t talk. It’s impossible to tally who screwed up more or who made the effort to reconnect. And yet, we always find each other again. We grow, sometimes apart and sometimes together, but in the end we always grow closer.
It’s not easy to re-grow a girl friendship. I do not even think it is always possible. Reconnecting over Facebook isn’t enough, nor is the occasional drink. Re-growing a friendship requires the concentrated effort of two people trying to bridge the gap that has kept them apart. How one does that? Good question. All I know is girl friendships can be rekindled if both women are willing to put themselves out there. Just like with a romantic relationship, you may get hurt or rejected, but the possible rewards make it all worthwhile.