Picture this: downtown Santa Barbara. Swanky mall with Spanish style architecture, terra cotta pots overflowing with bouganvilla, lemon trees and succulents abounding. Sipping on my green tea and clocking in some “office hours” while Fifi learns to share and not shove at school, I lean into some interesting conversation. Well, really, it’s eavesdropping, but seeing as I’m in such a classy environment, just roll with me here.
Says one blazer-wearing white-haired woman to her nylon-jacket-wearing white-haired friend, “I’m taking a figure drawing class.”
The other giggles girlishly and says nothing.
“I had my first class last night. It was a woman. Darn! I was hoping for a hunky guy!”
Again, more giggling.
Naturally, my ears perked up at this, but as the conversation turned toward her church and whether or not they liked the new pastor, and if the congregation should vote on something boring or other, I left them to themselves and turned toward my own thoughts. How many times have I giggled over coffee with a girlfriend and spoke candidly, letting whatever came to mind come out of my mouth and land on the café table? I have a solid handful of friends where nothing is off limits, nothing is taboo. From discussing nude figure drawing to PMS remedies, there is deep soul connection in being oneself with a true friend.
I think of these old girls, and how that could be me one day (sans the church politics). I think of all the hills and valleys over my years. Of the blood-sister contract I made with my lifelong bestie that she found years later rolled up behind a picture on her bedroom wall. Of the clothes I borrowed through my school days to the sugar and eggs I borrowed through my new wife days. I think of the nipple cream we shared and diaper rash tricks, and how now it's night cream and teen-wrangling tricks. I think of the prayers whispered, the shared sorrows. The cheering of one another on in career, parenting, health, and creativity. The grace of stretchy pants and the high fives of skinny jeans.
The gift of friendship is a luxury. Hug a buddy today, plant a kiss. Send chocolate, share a new favorite song. But mostly, give yourself. It's the most beautiful gift.