Friday, February 6, 2015

Walk & Talk – For Ladies Who Love Literature

Part One: Why friends (& especially lady friends) are important. 

I’ve realized over the years that it is much harder to make new friends. I’m no longer in college where most of my peers are my age and we have similarly crazy schedules and lots of excuses to hang out. I am the youngest one in my office by about twenty years. I recently moved about an hour away from most of my friends after getting married to have less of a hellish commute, and frankly, maintaining my current, valuable friendships requires a lot of time and effort (not that I mind one bit) so making new friends isn’t really a huge priority.

I look through Facebook, and while some of you are people I hold dearly and maintain meaningful friendships with outside of cyber space, many of you are acquaintances, friends of friends, and [somewhat sadly] people with whom I used to be very close, but over time and distance and busy schedules we’ve drifted apart. Relationships on all spectrums are hard work! 

I must admit that there is something thrilling about new, budding friendships, however. It’s a lot like the exciting first few weeks and months of dating someone—you learn your likes and dislikes and what you have in common. You slowly divulge your less-than-polished parts and nuances about yourself that you wouldn’t want your everyday acquaintances to know, because, let’s face it, you’re kind of a weirdo. 

When you make a new friend based on a shared interest—it’s great; things feel comfortable and you always have a fall back plan on what to talk about if you’re having an especially boring day. You find new friends begin to pass “friendship tests” or meet subliminal standards you didn’t even know you had—they pep talk you when you need it most; they don’t tell anyone about your latest embarrassment or Instagram a super unflattering picture of you; they make you a meal and show up with wine after a bad day; they hate the same TV show characters you do; you accidentally clogged the toilet at their place, and voila—you’ve slipped into a more intense and honest friendship territory. 

Those are the kind of friends I love, and when you have those friends, you don’t need to worry about how many you have or how often you see each other, because they will always be there when you need them the most. You can go weeks or months without talking sometimes, but you’ll always pick right back up where you left off. Treasure these people.  

I have male and female friends, and I cherish all of them. As a woman, my lady friends usually just get me better, and this is who I’m speaking to today.

I am lucky to have some of the most beautiful friends (inside and out)—smart, ambitious women who also are respectful and caring; they don’t always have perfect lives, but they are always moving forward, and doing so without stepping on or tearing down others. They overcome hard times, tight budgets, and complacency. They’re buying houses, and having babies, going to grad school, adopting puppies, and making big moves! I’m always amazed. 

And these women with their busy, eventful lives, are the same women who will spend an hour listening to me bitch about a bad day. They encourage and also straight talk. These are the kind of people I hope everyone is fortunate enough to have around them. If you’re not—talk to me! I’ll give you the hook up!

Part 2: Get to the point

I started writing this because I was wondering—what if some of my “internet friends” are thinking like me? Like “Gee—I wonder how so and so is doing? I’d love to catch up but after this long I’d feel like an idiot initiating it.” Most often, I hear from long lost people when they need a favor—no shame! If I can help I will! It’s just how things work on the internet. 

And then I was thinking about ways to get some nice, intelligent ladies together to either meet new friends or reconnect with old friends and/or acquaintances. And then I was thinking…hmm I’m not really that interesting….and I don’t DO a ton of different things. 

I’ve learned that the ability to meet new people is often based on your willingness to A. Try new things and B. Put on real clothes outside of your work hours. You know who meets people? Young adults who go to outdoor beers gardens in the summer or play indoor soccer or teach yoga classes. I ATTEND yoga classes, but while I’m there my glasses are off so they don’t sweat off my face or fog up, so I can’t see anyone anyway. Once class is over, I look such a mess and feel so gross that I just jettison my ass right out of there—minimal small talk= missed opportunities.

If you were to ask my husband what I like to do, he would tell you “Bake & Read.” He thinks I’m pretty lame because I’m not into paintball or RC airplanes.

That’s not entirely accurate, because I DO enjoy doing other things (this statement will be even truer when the weather starts creeping above the freezing point), but it’s pretty on point. 

I love to read. I will read almost anything and everything—from fantasy fiction (HELLO, Harry Potter!) to historical biographies. I love true crime novels and funny autobiographies. I love Tolkien and Dumas.  Poehler and Fey. Knipfel and Piccoult.

I’ve read lots of books turned major motion pictures: Gone Girl, Hunger Games, A Prayer for Owen Meany, The Book Thief, etc. (I’m that kind of person who always says READ THE BOOK FIRST! And I will be a snob about Game of Thrones and gripe about how poorly adapted the TV show is!)

When I was a kid, my mom would diligently take me and my siblings to the library once every other week or so. It was awesome, and I would walk out with the maximum number of books my library card would allow. She fostered my love of reading, and loathed cable TV, so I either had to entertain myself outside climbing trees and pretending to run away or read a book. My time was usually spent split between the two options.

When I lived at home, whenever my sisters or I would buy a new book, within a few months, it was almost always passed around and read by all three of us. Now that I’ve packed up my books (I may have stolen a few of my sister’s….) and moved out, I really only rarely swap books with one or two friends. 

What I really enjoy about reading is gathering my own opinion about the book, and then conferring with someone else who’s also read it and getting their take! Literature leaves so much to the imagination (especially when compared with movies, TV, and other forms of entertainment—both stimulating and less so) that it’s amazing how differently characters, themes, and “lessons” can be interpreted from one person to the next. 

Whenever I hear about book clubs or see them portrayed in movies, it’s usually a group of middle aged women getting together to discuss the latest romance novel they’ve read over wine (not a terrible idea) and get a night away from their demanding families. I don’t judge anyone for any reading choices ever (except for maybe Fifty Shades of Gray…because…well, I’m gonna judge you.) 

I am sending an open invitation to my friends and acquaintances in both the real and virtual worlds who have a passion for reading to get together with other intelligent women with similar interests. 

At the risk of sounding supremely corny—I’d like to propose the Walk & Talk: a “book club” of sorts that reads one book a month and gets together at the end of the month to take a group walk—whether it be a stroll on the boardwalk, a hike through the mountains, or a march through the mall—and discuss our thoughts on the book. We get some exercise, we get to express our innermost feelings about the books, and we can to hang out with some awesome ladies!

Does this sound like something that would interest you? Please, share your thoughts : ) 

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