Relationship Advice (Part Two)

GrainyEm.jpg

And maybe she took this new, less trusting self to high school and college and, as a way to cope, she became funny. She got funny and ambitious and she rarely said anything that wasn’t a joke or a plan so that even her own parents said — “You tell us a lot about what you’re doing, but you don’t tell us much about how you’re doing.” And she said: That’s because I’m doing great.

But maybe she wasn’t doing great. Maybe she went through school with a secret and her secret was that she had this whole other person inside her — a wide-eyed, trusting 12-year-old girl who she kept very close. And this girl wasn’t funny and she wasn’t ambitious and she wasn’t cynical and she wanted to be loved for who she was and not for what she could do.

And maybe she had trouble keeping friends because she had this strange way of simultaneously expecting far too much (like mind reading, for instance) and nothing at all. And because she listened and listened and listened but she rarely shared. And even though people called her generous, she gave little of herself and she gave in almost not at all.

And maybe she blamed her inability to speak and her inability to give on her dad’s sickness but maybe that was only partly true. Maybe it was also because she was afraid and a tiny bit selfish.

And maybe now — now that she’s turned 30 — she’s beginning to understand. Maybe now she knows that those girls, Jennifer and Rianna and Elizabeth. (I didn’t even get to tell you about Elizabeth.) She knows they were children.

Maybe now she’s seen enough movies and TV shows to know that the world works against true female friendships. Maybe she understands that, if you’re a woman, the world glorifies and rewards all of the most shallow things about you and then condemns you, mocks you, for being shallow. Maybe a movie like You Again came on her TV while she was writing last week and she realized the deep poverty of most representations of female friendships — a poverty that turns every female relationship into a competition, or a glorification of the trivial, or something sexual.

Maybe now she understands that every real female friendship is a miracle of our own making. A new creation. And that if Eve was created, built up around Adam’s rib, these friendships are born in the hollow of our bones. In the marrow. That soft and solid place where we’re incessantly churning, incessantly destroying and rebuilding the structure of ourselves. That criss-cross matrix place that gives our bones their give.

Maybe now she knows all of this. That she expected too much. That she was inflexible. That she gave too little.

Maybe she’s just past 30 and she’s ready for a miracle. A bonafide miracle.