This past year, I've been thinking and writing about the common bonds women share and the importance of womens' friendships in our society. My latest novel, What Next, Ms. Elliott? is about women at retirement but the friendship between women is at it's core. I've written columns, essays, and read about the strengths and importance of that friendship. Most often I've concentrated on the friendships between other women but once in awhile I've focused on my own.
My personality is not terribly outgoing so public appearances with unfamiliar groups are not easy for me. I'm working on the problem. Yesterday I had more than one lesson in the value and strength of friendship for the reading of my novel at the Solvang Retirement Center. The event was advertised and open to the public so very scary. The unexpected arrival of several current friends who came to offer support and encouragement was a surprise but brought a surge of pleasure and some relief. When my friend, mentor and presentation coach arrived, I wasn't surprised but very pleased.
Just before I was to start, another woman arrived and made an effort to get my attention. As soon as she spoke I knew she was my closest friend when we taught together thirty years ago. I was thrilled. I hadn't seen her for twenty and wouldn't have expected her to be in this area while many snow birding retirees are still in Arizona.
At that point it became very difficult to read with the degree of gravity the words I'd written deserved. My fear was nearly gone, the hardest thing I had to cope with was the desire to stand there and beam at all the special women who were honoring me and what I'm doing by being there.
After my reading, my friend from the past and I found a corner in the library of the Center and talked for two hours. We barely touched the surface. The bond doesn't weaken with distance or age if there is an opportunity for connection.