When I was not yet a teenager I had a good friend who was on the cutting edge of cool new trends. She was obsessed with the board game “Girl Talk“, which was a slumber party staple in the late 80′s and 90′s. It’s essentially a game of truth or dare, and the winner is the girl who gets fortune cards from all four categorizes: “Career”, “Marriage“, “Children”, and my personal favorite “Special Moments”. If you bitch out on your truth or dare question, there was an enormous pack of “zit stickers” that you must wear somewhere on your face. So as you see, it’s a feminist game for pre-teens–harmless fun!
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When not playing “Girl Talk”, “Dream Phone” was always waiting in the wings. I didn’t dig this game as much. I was too young to be interested in boys, and they sure as sweet Jesus weren’t interested in me. The whole point is to figure out your secret admirer; and the big pay off was dialing a number and hearing a generic pre-recorded message: ‘I think you are special, let’s go to the sock hop together”
So many choices! However is a twelve-year old girl to choose? (Don’t they all look like nerdy date-rapists in training?)
Moving into the teen years with these kind of expectations jammed into my soft, malleable brain was dangerous. It was all about the boys. Seriously. Does he like me? Why doesn’t he like me? Will I ever get asked to the sock hop? What is a sock hop anyway? If I put the energy into boys into my schooling, I would have been a doctor by now. But beyond schooling, I would tell my younger self that the most important thing are female friends, they are the tits, the business, and that is the thing you don’t want to mess up. And of course you do, but that’s growing up–making an unholy mess of your life, and learning how to apologize and put the pieces back together. You’ll do that about a dozen times before you finally get it right.
Now in my thirties, while I love my husband and the things we talk about; I crave female conversation. We celebrated my 30th birthday in Monkey Mia, Australia, and spent the whole day on the beach, drinking champagne, swimming in the Indian Ocean. And as you do on a hot summer day on a booze-soaked vacation–I chatted up other vacationers. I wound up chatting to several different women, and finally had a lengthy chat with this German traveler about books, films and life in general. So refreshing. I said to Ben later, “I mean, no offense to you…but it is so nice to talk to like-minded women”. To which my husband replied: “Alicia, I can be many things for you…but a ‘like-minded woman’ isn’t one of them”. Very true.
Back in Canada, I have reconnected with some long-ago friendships, and it has rapidly become one of the most important things in my life. Even though we have all settled down–most are married, many have children, we really have remained the same. I am loving the frank and honest conversations. Nothing is off limits: money, debt, goals, careers, ideologies and varying viewpoints. In talking about the frustrations of marriage and motherhood; or how we’d like more children, or can’t have children, or don’t want children, the world opens up, and you feel as if you are heard. Better yet, you feel understood. These friendships is that they have grown up as well: we listen better, we care more, we are gentle and considerate. We appreciate the value of good old fashioned “girl talk”.
Yesterday I was at my friend Trish’s house, visiting with our mutual friend Jenna, who was in from out of town. I’ve known these two for many years. In each other we have seen the best, the worst, and the very intoxicated. Both have had a child in the last year, and it was surreal to see them with babies in their arms. The night before that, Trish and I texted about plans, and whether I should come by in the evening. I text “I have rehearsal at 6:30, but could nip out early and be over around 8:00″, thinking to myself “Gosh, that will be so late”. To which Trish texts, “We are going to have to shoot for another time, I go to bed pretty early these days”. Holy hell, I remember we wouldn’t even be ready to go out for cocktails at 8:00. While sitting together the following morning, talking about every possible topic, we laughed about the texts being emblematic about the change in our lives.
So…yes, while maybe we’ve gone from this:
We are perfectly at peace with that.