Dear Kindred Spirits,

I do not have a Best Friend.

When I was a complicated, emotional and unconfident girl in junior high/high school, best friends were THE goal. I had grown up with Anne Shirley and Diana Barry, "bosom friends" of the noblest sort,
Nancy Drew and her best mates, George & Bess, and story after story of young girls who conspired with other girls over giggles, tears, and aspirations of growing up that bonded them in ways I wanted so badly for my own. It was like reading a love story and wanting a dashing hero to come into my life and sweep me away in romantic bliss. But I wanted giggles, secret jokes and a confidante who GOT ME and didn't judge me for the quirks & snorts of an awkward me with crooked teeth and a habit of smiling when things are awkward.

In early school I had a BF, and we did everything together. I loved her with such buddy devotion that felt just like it was supposed to in my books. We even pretended we had a secret language so others would think that they weren't a part of our awesome friendship. We didn't know what we were saying most of the time, but we'd lose ourselves in fits of laughter at how dumb we sounded trying to be exclusive. We established a special cartoon voice that no one else could do like we could, and we named a hill near her home after the two of us, making plans to meet there and talk about school gossip, boys and the uncertainties of growing up. We decided to become Blood Sisters. She picked a scab on her hand and I cut myself with a kitchen knife (she got the better end of that deal, b.t.w), and we wrote an oath about the longevity of our friendship for life or longer. It was very dramatic. We had sleepovers with sour cream & onion chips, The Outsiders & The Karate Kid, and we even tried to co-write a book once. I wonder what happened to that book, our attempt at being young authoresses. Hmm.

By the time we got to Jr High School, boys and school drama got the better of us and we parted ways. I was sad, and when we would pass each other in the hallway, we would smile a knowing smile that remembered all our girlish days.

I found a new BF in High School, less giggly and more prone to rule-breaking... and it was nice to scratch the itch for a BF once more. As before, I was the gangly, awkward best friend to the beautiful, eye-catching girl that boys seemed to really appreciate. I was approached for info about her and I no longer believed that boys wanted to talk to me because it always came around to them asking me about her. Fine. We graduated and then went our separate ways, disagreeing about my newfound faith and direction for our young adult lives.

I got married, had two baby girls and felt the lack of a BF so desperately that I saw them everywhere. You know how when you think you're pregnant, you see expecting moms all over the place, or when you are on a diet, all you see are ads for greasy, cheat foods? It was like that. For YEARS. I saw movies with young women, palling around with their girlfriends, pals who had their backs, who stepped in when things were tough, laughed until they snorted and always started a conversation as if they were in the middle of the last one. It made me so sad, because I didn't have anyone like that in my life, and it was the one thing I wanted more than anything. When my first baby was a year old, I held her in blubbering tears one day and said "you will grow up and move on, and you'll never remember when it was just you and me. You're my best friend and you can't even talk!" I was so aware of my loneliness in that moment, and that made me feel so embarrassed and sad.

And yet, I put on my smile and went everywhere I thought I could meet a new BF. I walked the Mall, making eye contact with young women, I joined groups, went on retreats, took classes, joined Mom groups and entered countless rooms without knowing a single soul, hoping that this time I would meet someone to walk through womanhood with. I know how this sounds. I was a BF stalker, on the prowl for someone to GET ME, someone I could be a really good friend to as well because I knew that if given the chance I was a REALLY great friend. If someone would just give me a CHANCE!

I listened to Jen Hatmaker's "For the Love" on audiobook last year and had to pull the car over. She was telling about watching her mom's band of girlfriends who shared in the overseeing of Jen's life, and she was determined to have a tight band of girlfriends as well - which Jen has, and her kids grew up with a dedicated tribe of women praying for them, looking out for them and caring about them in a way that only a BF can.

I bawled my eyes out. This was the desire of my heart, and as glad as I was that Jen had this in her life I only felt the lack in my own. I also felt like a big failure that I couldn't model for my girls the beauty of a healthy, strong girlfriend relationship. I wanted THEM to have a Diana Barry of their own as well, and I was overcome with my failure to show my girls what is possible and what strength comes from being vulnerable with the best people. I had failed at Friendship and now I felt like a failure as a woman leading young women.

For a short while, I had a great group of girlfriends, a motley, a beautiful group from my creative pursuits and my church life, mostly made up of the parents of my children's friends and I planned all sorts of activities for us to be together. We got our kids together for playdates, our husbands became friends and as Moms, we enjoyed one another. One day I became weary for always sending out the invites, planning dates to meet, and I decided to let someone invite ME for a change. As a result, those friendships fizzled in their depth, and although I still love them, we do not see each other except in passing. It disheartened me to no end that when I waited to be invited, the invite never came. If I wasn't driving this Friendship Bus, it went nowhere. If those friendships were based on our children being friends, and those kids grew up and parted ways, then maybe my friends were only as committed as our kids were. I grieved the loss of a BF ever so strongly when I realized this, and loneliness consumed me. My BF from childhood was a bittersweet memory now, one that stung in the reality that maybe that was the only Diana Barry-type Kindred Spirit I would ever have.

It's hard to make close friends later in life. Everyone is so consumed with their families, their careers and their digital isolation, that there's no room to sneak in there and woo them with my great friendship skills. I am not saying any of this to start a pity party, but it's one of the reasons why connecting with Readers everywhere I go is so special to me. I now find friendships in the books I read, and from what I hear from you, I don't think I am alone.

Readers seek the lives they want in the stories they read. Some look for adventure, love, fantasy, fairy tales... I look for kindred spirits. This is a very vulnerable thing to post about, but it occurred to me that we all try so hard to be impressive, and rarely do we expose our hurts or soft underbelly. I am all about the soft underbelly (no body shaming jokes, please) and being authentic even when it's unpopular.

To all the women out there who GET this, and are lonely for a kindred spirit, I understand. But don't give up, maybe your next BF is going to be at the next Book Club you attend. And please, Ladies, keep your eyes open for the lonely ones, the ones who are struggling to find real friends, who are willing to make room for you in their lives and who will make your life so much richer in exchange.

Because we are out there.


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