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Whose Style is it Anyway?
At a recent gathering of the Lovelies Who Lunch (my fabulously chic clique of friends decided that 'Ladies Who Lunch' sounds a bit too suburban for our cutting-edge flock of fashionistas), talk turned to the subject of friendship and the who, what, when, where and why of it all. As little girls in frilly dresses and patent leather Mary Janes we tended to bond with other little girls in frilly dresses and patent leather Mary Janes. As teens, we moved en masse, a solid gaggle of giggling girls all wearing the same jeans, the same polo tops, the same lip gloss and even showing up at the prom in the same dress (albeit different colors of course). We sobbed at graduation, tearfully vowing undying loyalty and friendship to those girls who had stood by us through first loves, bad perms and seriously scary orthodontia--then promptly forgot all about them in the whirlwind of excitement that was college life.
Four years (give or take) later we found ourselves once again saying a tearful goodbye to our roommates and sorority sisters, those fabulous girls who stood by us through our first serious love (and subsequent breakup), several more bad perms, the steady accumulation of student loans and the sheer terror of job interviews. Armed with our newly minted college diplomas we dispersed to the far corners of the continent, ready to take Corporate America by storm. We were now in the real world--real jobs (requiring stylish and chic professional wardrobe), real apartments (requiring the actual payment of rent, as well as the opportunity to flex our as-yet-untried home decorating skills), cars with real car payments and really, really serious Visa bills (aforementioned stylish and chic professional wardrobe). It was exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time; like flying high on a trapeze, but without the safety net of my dearest girlfriends gathered around the kitchen table eating Chunky Monkey and crushing on the cute boys in Brit Lit.
When I moved away earlier this spring, I found myself once again a stranger in a strange land, thinking that I would never be able to find friends as wonderful as those I had left behind (but still keep in close contact with thanks to the magic and wonder of technology). Which leads me right back to the topic of our lunchtime musings--how, as sassy, poised and confident girls in our twirties, we find that we have reached that stage in life where we are able to make friends with other twirty, nearly-twirty and even over-twirty girls with equal ease and joy. While we still enjoy our sameness, we are confident enough to accept and even embrace our differences, never letting them stand in the way of friendship.
Take Pilar, for instance, who is as exotic as her name. Pilar is all smooth creamy skin, long shiny hair, legs that go on forever and look great in jeans and a movie-star smile (think Victoria Beckham, but without the angled bob). I'd hate her if I didn't like her so much. Pilar owns a darling little shop (or shoppe, in her clipped British accent) just around the corner called "The Darling Little Shoppe Just Around the Corner", which is filled with oodles of unique and charming merchandise. Scrumptious cashmere sweaters and delicate wisps of lace hang in an antique armoire; Egyptian cotton pajamas and snuggly cashmere robes are draped across a brocade chaise longue. To-die-for jeans and corduroy jackets rest on an old baker's rack. Handmade jewelry, scented candles, exotic bath oils, unique objet d'art , even imported chocolates are clustered atop a marble topped dressing table. I discovered Pilar's shop the weekend after I moved here. I was feeling a bit at odds, tired of unpacking and wanting a break, feeling a bit lonely and sorry for myself when I wandered into the shop. There, on a shelf, was a silk evening bag that reminded me of the one I borrowed from Shop Girl (and which she made me return before I moved) and I immediately burst into tears. Pilar put her arm around me and guided me to a velvet settee where she plied me with hot tea and chocolate biscuits, and listened to my homesick ramblings. Two hours later, carrying a scrumptious jar of bath salts (a housewarming gift from Pilar, along with instructions to go home and immediately put it to use) I left the shop having made my very first new friend.
Next, there's Bailey. Typical sports and fitness enthusiast, college soccer scholarship, has a wicked backhand, runs a bazillion miles each week and seems to live solely on nachos and pizza. We met at a yoga class (no one told me that you actually sweated while doing yoga; I thought it was all stretching and serenity) when I pulled an inner thigh muscle during Warrior Pose and she came to my aid--turns out she's in sports medicine (big surprise there). While Bailey can usually be found wearing yoga togs, running gear or tennis whites, it turns out that she has a major thing for Choo's (and Blahnik, Spade, and Louboutin, too). We bonded. The minute I saw her pull the oh-so-chic Kooba tote out of her locker I knew we were kindred spirits. She may be able to do a thousand stomach crunches, while I am better at eating Nestle Crunch Bars, but we have become great friends over the past few months. At first glance, Bailey is a bit intimidating; she's one of those lucky girls who can get away with a flick of mascara and a swipe of lip balm. (In high school I would have wanted to be her friend so I could be popular-by-association.) Then, when you get to know her you realize that she is the girl-next-door, the kid sister, the junior high girl-jock; but give that girl tickets to Wicked and she can really pull out the stops. In killer heels and a sassy little black dress, drop dead gorgeous does not even come close.
And finally, Whitney the Wondermum (said with complete awe and just a touch of jealousy). Currently expecting her fourth child (twins in kindergarten and a just-potty-trained toddler) she exudes the glow of a supremely content and serene Madonna (as in renaissance art, not bullet-bra celebrity), without being the least bit smug. Whitney lives across the courtyard (next door to cute-boy-who-lifts-weights-on-balcony) and her twins have adopted me as "Auntie She She", a role I play to perfection with fun little trinkets and goodies, Cinderella and popcorn, then back home to mommy when they get whiny. Whitney, an illustrator, says she vowed to never let pregnancy and motherhood frumpitize her. She flaunts her bump with pride in stylish sweaters, skinny jeans and fetching footwear (tip to pregos: your waistline may have disappeared, but you still have legs--take good care of them with a soothing foot massage and pedicure, then show off those sexy toes). Whitney says that with so many fabulous boutiques loaded with stylish maternity wear there is absolutely no excuse for gigantic tent dresses. She is an absolute darling, full of understanding and compassion and has spent countless hours listening to me lament my single-ness (although she does have a tendency to give me cookies and milk and a pat on the head if I go on too long) and I consider myself blessed to count her as a friend.
My dear new girlfriends! Separately, we are all as different as could be, yet we all have something in common—the ability to see beyond the surface and into the heart of a true friend. (Besides, we would all look silly in frilly dresses and patent leather Mary Janes!)
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