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.
And 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.
I’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.
I’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.
Many 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: