When Jessica Smock emailed me a few months ago, asking to use one of my blog essays in an anthology she was editing, I said of course. I was happy the piece would get wider attention–it was not only a fun piece but an important one, I think.

I received my advance copy of The HerStories Project about a week ago. I don’t usually read anthologies and so as I read this one, I considered it in piecemeal–“That one is funny….this one made me sad…” Etc.

Over the course of the book, a funny thing happened. Continually reminded of various friendships past and present, old memories, and remember-whens, I realized the point of this book is not to represent 50-some different friendships of 50-some different writers. The point of the book is to honor friendship in such a way that the book becomes our own story. The essays are a reflection of us collectively and individually—reader as well as writer. Of course.

IMG_1337And so this week, I’ve been thinking of Michelle, my first friend. I moved next door to her when I was two and she was three. I walked up to her in her backyard sandbox, according to my mom, and asked if I could play. She said, “No,” and I said, “Yes,” and sat down. We became sisters that day, and I cannot think of my childhood without thinking of her. She is my childhood.

Eric, Jess, KateI’ve also been thinking of Katie and Eric. We were born into the same family but that doesn’t mean we had to become friends. But we did, and we are. There are few people it is possible to drive across the country with without going insane, and my sister is one of them. There are few people you can count on for help fully and without caveats, and my brother is one of those.

Kel and DanielleI’ve been thinking about college friends, especially Kelly and Danielle. They are sisters to me for a different reason–they have seen me at my worst and my best. Soul-baring conversations and embarrassing moments, crazy alcohol-fueled hilarity…I’ve broken many boundaries with these two and several others I shared the college experience with, one of my favorite periods of life so far because we were free and happy and lucky.

232323232-fp8-4-nu=32;--65;-47--WSNRCG=3239747752;;;nu0mrjMany of the essays in the anthology are about the loneliness of new motherhood. It’s the kind of loneliness that echoes. I cannot imagine surviving that time if I hadn’t been going through it right alongside Heather, Ginny, Melanie (yes, the Melanie), and others in the mom group run by the hospital. We had babies born within weeks of each other. They were the ONLY people in the world who knew, acutely, how I felt. Having that outlet is probably the one thing that kept me from suffering depression.

There are many, many others–around the periphery or smack in the middle for a time, these people have filled my life. There were seasons of friendships, some lasted, some glimmered brightly for a time but passed. Some were lost but, thankfully, found again. All are important for their role in filling my life with happiness and substance.

The HerStories Project goes on sale today. Here’s to friendship:

herstories-v4-2

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45 responses to “HerStories, Our Stories: the Importance of Friendship”

  1. Ginny Washburne Avatar

    awww! So incredibly thankful for your friendship. It seems like yesterday we were walking around Lake Arlington with our brand new baby boys talking about motherhood. Love you and cherish our friendship more than you know!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      It really does — though I’m reminded how much we’ve (happily) endured since the picture above was taken–we look so young! And it was only six years ago…what have these children done ot us?? 🙂

  2. Stephanie Sprenger Avatar
    Stephanie Sprenger

    What a beautiful post, Jessica. I absolutely loved the conclusion you came to about the “point” of the book, and I couldn’t have summed it up better. Thank you for putting that into words so perfectly, and more importantly, for sharing your fantastic essay with us. We are thrilled to have you as part of the book!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thank you, Stephanie! I was honored when asked, and even more so now that I’ve gotten to read all these wonderful writers. So happy to be a part of it.

  3. Wendy Avatar
    Wendy

    To Friendship!! 🙂

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Cheers, second-oldest-friend!

  4. Galit Breen Avatar

    Here’s to friendship, indeed! Love this ode to your story and the way we really are all more connected than we think!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thanks, Galit. So happy to be alongside your writing, which I’m now discovering is fantastic.

  5. Kiersi Avatar

    This is brilliant! What a fantastic idea for an anthology! There’s a lot of muck in our modern culture about female friendship–that women are “catty” and “bitchy” and can’t have the same genuine, forever friendships that men do. I find this absurd. Yes! Love honoring our female companions. I myself have a “hetero lifemate” that I couldn’t see myself not having in my life as I grow up and grow older. What sweet stories, Jessica. ❤

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thank you, Kiersi. You’re so right–and I actually hadn’t thought of that point. There IS too much perceived bitchiness; I’m so glad to be part of something positive.

  6. Barbara Ackles Avatar
    Barbara Ackles

    Once again, a wonderful blog, that, of course, brought tears to my eyes. The day you walked over to Michelle’s was a day I will always remember and seems like yesterday. I remember your good friends Kelly and Danielle and the showers and weddings of some. Your mom’s support group was wonderful and such nice women. I have been there right along with you during all these times. A great tribute to friendship and makes me think of my friends that I have had for longer than you have been alive and all my new friends. Friends add so much richness to our lives. A toast to them all!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      You really have always put a priority on friendship and I’m so glad you set that example for me. Cheers!

  7. Sarah @ Left Brain Buddha Avatar

    I love thinking about the book as weaving a common thread instead of being about 50 different friendships! My mom was telling me yesterday that so many of the Kappa friends keep emailing her about the ‘two degrees of separation’ about you and I both being in the book. So glad to have ‘met’ you! 🙂

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Yes, me too! It’s such a great story…

  8. Kathy Radigan Avatar

    I love this post! I found that reading the book brought back so many memories of some amazing women who have been in my life, some for a long time, others for a set period, but each bringing something so special to me. Thanks for reminding me!! Wonderful pictures, thanks for sharing!!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thank you, Kathy. So glad to be part of this with all of you.

  9. Nina Badzin Avatar

    Love that we’re sharing in this day together!

  10. Jean Avatar
    Jean

    Exactly. Here’s to friendship. I especially love how you included your siblings. It is my greatest hope that my children will be there for each other like you described.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      It’s my hope for my children, too. I’ll have to ask my parents if they did anything in particular….

  11. Naturally Educated Avatar

    This project really made me think about all of my friendships over the years and just how crucial they were at different times in my life. I agree that you can be related and not be friends. I see it a lot, but have not experienced it myself. My sisters and cousins are the closest friends I have ever and will ever have. Constant unconditional love that I am very thankful for! Can’t wait to sit down and read all the essays in the book!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      I’ve seen it, too. Some people have expressed a mix of surprise and awe that I could go on days- and weeks-long road trips with my sister. I can’t imagine NOT being able to do it.

  12. katbiggie Avatar

    I LOVE this post. You embodied the spirit of the book perfectly and made me realize how much I love and miss different people in my life.

  13. Dana Avatar

    I love how you wove in your friends into this post – you illustrate so clearly how friends can be different and fulfill different needs.I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my friendships over the years as I read the book – it certainly reminds me to count my friends as blessings.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Yes, me too. The book is a reminder that friendship is work and worth the effort.

  14. muddledmom Avatar

    Sounds like a good one! Makes me think of all the wonderful friends I’ve made at various stages of my life.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      There are many stages, right? It’s interesting to think back to people I once shared time, secrets, and experiences with, and realize, for no horrible reason, we no longer know each other’s last names or where we live….

      1. muddledmom Avatar

        Life goes on. We change. I think that’s good. We could probably still pick up with most of them and carry on like we were. That part of who we were then is still somewhere inside us. Just maybe it doesn’t come out all the time now. 😉

  15. deborahbrasket Avatar

    Congratulations Jessica! How lovely to have a editor come to you and request to publish something you’ve written.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thanks, Deborah! Yes, it was a good feeling, reading that email.

  16. Karen Avatar

    You have been awarded Blog of the Year 2013! http://karenmesa.com/2013/12/03/blog-of-the-year-award-2013/ because I love reading your blog.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Aw, thank you, Karen!

  17. Katia Avatar

    It’s interesting how you can reconstruct someone’s biography through the friendships they held at different times in their lives. I really enjoyed your post and identified with a lot of it. Congratulations and look forward to reading your essay! 🙂

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Thank you, Katia! Congratulations to you too. 🙂 Glad to be getting to know you through the book.

  18. Claudine Gueh @ CarryUsoffBooks.com Avatar

    Love the idea of this anthology, and how you’d ‘insisted’ on befriending your first childhood friend!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Yes, I showed some gumption. Glad I did–she’s been a great friend!

  19. Melissa Crytzer Fry (@CrytzerFry) Avatar

    At my recent book club, we discussed this very thing: the critical importance of female companionship to women, no matter what age. Thanks for the trip down your own memory lane, Jess. It made me think of my college years and beyond – with warmness and fondness. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      So glad — that’s what the book did for me, too. And the importance–yes. When I moved to Minneapolis in my 20s, it was hard to meet friends. It was the first time I realized I NEEDED girlfriends.

  20. I’ll Have to Call It “Cancer” « True STORIES. Avatar

    […] Michelle? She was my first friend. We grew up next door to each other. Her mom has cancer for the second […]

  21. macjam47 Avatar

    I can’t wait to get my hands on THE HERSTORIES PROJECT. I loved your post. There are so many people who come, go, or stay in our lives, and each contributes something, big or small, to who we are.

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Yes – so true! Big or small, they each help “build” our lives. Let me know what you think of the book!

  22. Allison C Avatar

    I love the line “she WAS my childhood.” I have two very dear friends like that – just saying their names takes me back to summer evening games of Cops & Robbers and kickball. Congrats on being published, happy to connect over this project, and look forward to getting to know you more!

    1. Jessica Vealitzek Avatar

      Ours were Kick the Can and Ghost in the Graveyard. 🙂

      Thank you — I’m looking forward to it as well! Such a wonderful byproduct of this project…

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