Archive for the 'friendship' Category

deciding to trust other women again

Sure, this counts as a Little Victory!

I got this text on Thanksgiving from a woman I haven’t really talked to in at least a year: Friend, today I am thankful for you. Hope your day is filled with gratitude and warmed by people who love you. 

She’s busy, in a writing program down south. I’m busy, here in NYC. We never really got the chance to get really close, but I’ve always liked her.

I thought there was some mistake. She’d probably meant the message for someone else. Or she’d sent it to a lot of people, and I was accidentally included. I felt awkward, responding, because what if I was too personal in return, and she was embarrassed for me and it was weird?

I am always waiting for women to leave me. Like the guy who doesn’t call back after what seemed like a perfect second date, like the breakup that never makes sense even though the other person seems to be trying to explain, I am never sure of the reasons, even though I dig through my memories, unearthing things that look like they might be clues. Things that have been broken a long time and are probably better off left there, underground.

(sorry, that was morbid. source)

I have fought passionately with boyfriends. I’ve yelled and stormed and stomped out and slammed the door and disappeared into the night for a while until I realize I’m just wandering around a parking lot and someone is probably going to rape and murder me and the fantastically successful dramatic exit is probably not worth all that. I have a flair for the dramatic with men. But with women, I am gentle. Since I was twelve or even sooner, I had best friends—girls I dressed up with in endless rounds of play acting, and had sleepovers with and wrote letters to and illustrated the envelopes. And they have tended to get mysteriously hurt or bored or something else and leave over the years, without telling me why. Or they’ve abruptly betrayed me in some teenaged, heartbreaking manner. The girl who I worshipped who was abruptly dating my boyfriend, just after I’d broken up with him. But she didn’t tell me—instead she showed up with him one day, just like that, and then she left the room while he berated me from his towering height of six foot four inches, telling me that I was stupid, ridiculous, pathetic– a little girl– that I didn’t know anything about the world. He was obviously in love with me, furious at me, and she was obviously letting him loom over me and tell me what a little fool I was. I couldn’t believe she’d chosen him over the stories I’d written with her about our shared future, where we had little farm houses down the road from each other in New Hampshire, and I came over for Christmas even though I am Jewish, and our kids played together and eventually married each other.

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being friends with other people’s moms

Oh, and you should read my better beauty rules column over at The Frisky. When you get a chance, I mean. 

My friend was having a birthday party, and of course I didn’t want to go. I know people like parties. I know parties are supposed to be fun. But I dread them. I force myself to go to them sometimes, when it’s someone who is a close friend, or because there is this voice in my head that is definitely my mom’s that is always saying “you never know! It could be a great opportunity!” and otherwise I make something up.”I think I have swine flu. Again.”

(i don’t have the right hat! source)

“My mom is coming,” she texted. “Just so you know.”

“I’m in!” I wrote back. “Of course I’ll be there!!”

Thank god for my friends’ moms. I love them. I have loved them since I was a kid. You know what kind of kid– one of those secret introverts, loud and friendly on the outside, dying to get home and curl up with another Tamora Pierce book on the inside. I always wanted to hang out with moms. I don’t know why.

Guesses: they’re nicer than kids. They are impressed when you’re friendly and polite. It doesn’t take much to impress them. They know interesting stuff.

Once my friend’s mom farted in front of us, and she was like “Oops.” And she didn’t even care. It was an amazing moment. To be at the point where you don’t even really care that everyone just heard you fart. Hell yeah.

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Kate on August 21st 2012 in friendship, homeschooling, life

the contract

I finally had my ketubah framed. That’s the Jewish wedding contract.

It was the first time I have ever had something framed. It was a bigger deal than I thought it would be. In the frame shop, this little man with round glasses like Harry Potter kept tugging open another drawer full of colorful samples. Every manner of delicately, elegantly aged. It made me want to frame everything, until he told me the prices.

I read the ketubah, since it was lying there on the work table. I forget already what it says. Something about commitment and love, I’m sure.

My eyes went immediately to the signatures on the bottom, and I remembered signing my name, there in the basement of the place where only minutes later I would barely make it down the aisle without tripping over the front of my enormous dress. My name is unbalanced, hesitant. Not because I am hesitant about marriage, but because I have never learned how to properly sign. Bear’s is more graceful. And then the witnesses, his friend, who has since moved to the suburbs to live in a house so big that I can’t keep track of the number of bathrooms, and my closest friend at the time, a woman I met almost the first day I arrived in this city.

She was sitting across the conference table from me at our departmental orientation, wearing a big necklace that she toyed absently with. She was very thin and had read more than everyone else combined, and I was intimidated by her.

For some reason (it might have had something to do with the fact that we were the only women there), we became friends, and then good friends, and then we were together constantly. She would sleep at my apartment after we’d talked into the night. Do you know the kind of friend who there is always more to say to? It’s something about the way they listen. She would tilt her head thoughtfully. She was so smart that she could find meaning in anything. So little topics could be stretched to become big topics and big topics could lie lightly across the top of whole months, years, even.

Her signature at the bottom of my wedding contract is so fine and small that it is almost invisible. It sits directly beneath my unruly, clumsy one. We are bound together here, her and me and Bear and the friend in the suburbs. 

In the framing shop, I tried to pull my eyes up from it, because she is gone.

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Kate on August 9th 2012 in friendship, life, marriage

what happens when you turn thirty

This is a guest post from one of my favorite writers. Her name is Erica. I met her in a class that actually changed my life. In that class, I thought, “I want to be like Erica.” Later, she was in my tiny writing group. The entire time I’ve known her, she has worn the most unassuming clothing. Like she really just likes to be comfortable. In this city, I had never seen someone do that. She struck me immediately and continuously as a person who likes being herself. Who can just sit there being herself for as long as you need to sit there with her, figuring yourself out. I was thrilled when she wrote to me yesterday and said she needed to write this post. Then she wrote it. 

I turned thirty yesterday. I was in my twenties for a long time—a whole decade. I turned twenty in Maine, where I was living in staff housing behind a luxury resort, paying $35 a week in rent and saving money for a trip to Europe. How’d I get to Maine? My car broke down and I found a job. It was adventurous, I was young, and my life was yawning open like a carpet unfurling.

In Maine, I learned how to hear complaints from guests at the hotel without rolling my eyes. I learned all the wrong ways to be a customer. I learned that having a compassionate boss makes a big difference. I met a man in his sixties named Legs, who told me that losing his girl had been his Auschwitz. And I said, “Everyone has their Auschwitz,” but I didn’t know, then, what mine was, what it might be. In fact, ten years on, I think it’s a little dramatic. But still, I understand my point—that everyone suffers more than they think they can suffer. Everyone has to face what once seemed untenable.

 When I was twenty, I didn’t ever expect to turn thirty.

Thirty felt like something I’d experience during the trip to Europe I had yet to take: seeing a distant shoreline—no, the faint suggestion of a shoreline—from a ferry and thinking I’d never actually make it to that new country. When I was twenty, most of my friends were older than me. Throughout my twenties, actually, most of my friends were older than me. Their lives became a little more stable a little sooner than mine. A lot of them got married. Now, a lot of them are having children, or are at least thinking about it. A lot of them already finished graduate school before I decided to go.

I lived in Vermont from the time I was twenty-one to twenty-three, after six months in Europe where I learned how to open my mind (only sometimes with, ahem, help), how to speak quietly in a cathedral, how to communicate love to the non-English speaking parents of friends you met in America. In Vermont, I learned how to live with people of all ages, and how to love people who were older than I was by more than a few years. I learned that when a man asks for or gives a massage, that’s definitely code. I learned that in Vermont, it’s not called soft-serve—it’s called a creamee.

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Kate on June 20th 2012 in friendship, guest post

the girls in the clique. and how I (accidentally) flashed them.

I didn’t know girls still did cliques at this age. I mean, I guess I could’ve figured it out, but I didn’t really give it much thought.

I was homeschooled, so I missed a lot of that stuff, which I’ve always felt lucky for. But no one can miss all of it.

(they made us watch “Mean Girls” at freshman orientation in college. it cut a little close to home for me)

It takes about two seconds of remembering to whip me back in time to the girls’ bathroom at the synagogue, where I am engaged in that most classic and venerable of traditions: crying helplessly, locked in a stall. It is my first day of Hebrew High School. I’m thirteen, and none of the other girls will talk to me. It’s not just implied, it’s outright. They cross the room to avoid me and then cluster together, whispering.

They are the same girls who I was in class with for the past few years. It’s Lauren and Elise, and then their friends. Lauren is the pretty girl with the amazing black hair who told me I don’t know how to dress. Elise is always following her around, at her heels like an eager puppy, practically panting, her blond hair bouncing. Hebrew school was OK, because I had David, and also Shana, and also Andrew, who was really smart. And I avoided the others, the way you learn to do. But at the beginning of Hebrew High, I am alone with all the wrong people. And I thought that things would be different, for some reason, because we have all had our bar and bat mitzvahs. Because we are supposed to be adults now. And adults are supposed to all get along with each other.


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Kate on June 6th 2012 in being different, friendship

a wife, a husband, and a roommate

There are lots of rules about marriage. Some are big and self-explanatory, like don’t cheat, don’t keep destructive secrets, and don’t always eat the last bite of the buffalo chicken salad. That stuff is amazing, but marriage is about sharing.

It’s not about sharing your house with your friend who needs a place to stay, though.

That’s one of the smaller rules.

Along with remind your partner to call their mom and don’t constantly mix up their friends and then crack yourself up trying to sort them out.

My friend from college needed a place to stay for about a month, in between apartments. Automatically, I said she should stay with us. There’s enough space, so it felt weird not to offer. I mentioned it to Bear. “Of course,” he said. Which was what I expected. I thought it would be weird if he said no.

My friend moved in.

And then everyone else was like, “Oh my god! Are you okay with that?! What about Bear? It’s his home! He must be so upset! Are you guys okay?”

Everyone said that at the same time. They hadn’t even met my friend. Or they had, and they liked her, but they couldn’t believe that this was happening. That I’d allowed this whole other person to move into my home, while I was in it. With my husband. All of us. Together.

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guy friends: i would like to have them

For the longest time, I have only had one guy friend. And I used to date him, in college. Which complicates things. It makes Bear uncomfortable. It makes me uncomfortable, too. Not the him being my friend part. That’s fine. It happened naturally. We’re horrible gossips together.  But I wish I could erase our dating past. I shouldn’t have dated him. Even while I was dating him, I was hazily aware of that.

I am bad at guy friends. I have only had a few. Which makes me totally uncool, I know.

Once, I had more than a few, very briefly, and then, when I met Bear, they all vanished. Which was too bad, because I like hanging out with guys.

The problem is, they always try to kiss me. Some of them try to kiss me right away. Some of them do it sneakily, much later. Some of them wait years and year, but then, predictably, they try to kiss me.

The guy I already dated—he will never try to kiss me again. If you mentioned the idea to him, he would look immediately ill. We went through that, we came out of it, and now we’re safe. Thank god.

I know that men and women can be friends. There are lots of movies and books about how, actually, they can’t. How it’s this big mystery that we probably need more books and movies about. The Man/Woman Friendship Conundrum: An Attempt At Solving the Unsolvable Mystery About Whether Or Not Men and Women Can Actually Be Friends Without Eventually Making Out (By someone with a PhD).

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Kate on May 14th 2012 in friendship, marriage, relationships