HerStories, Our Stories: the Importance of Friendship

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 thoughts on “HerStories, Our Stories: the Importance of Friendship

  1. 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!

    • 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. 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!

  3. 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. ❤

  4. 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!

  5. 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! 🙂

  6. 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!!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

    • 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….

      • 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. 😉

  10. 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! 🙂

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  12. 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!

    • 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.

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  14. 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.

  15. 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!

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