Recently, I had lunch with a friend I hadn’t seen in 15 years. To be clear, she had actually been a friend of an ex-boyfriend of mine; someone I dated while I lived in London when I was 16. He introduced us because we’re both American, so he wondered if there was some distant connection linking us. Much like all gentiles think every Jew somehow knows one another, otherwise known as Jewish Geography, many Europeans think there’s some small link between all Americans. Alex was from Los Angeles and I was from New York, and no, there was nothing linking us but our American accents, butchered by many years spent living abroad.
In truth, I don’t remember much of my friendship with Alex, not because it didn’t exist, or wasn’t significant to me at the time, but because what tied us together was a romance I had with a friend of hers. And at 16, I churned through boyfriends like I churn through paper towels now. When my relationship with the guy who introduced us ended, probably 6-weeks after it started, my friendship with Alex fizzled into the oblivion that many friendships do. Yet for some reason, after all this time, I saw her post on Facebook that she was coming to Nashville and I felt compelled to reach out. I’m trying this new thing where I stop treating my Facebook page like a version of US Weekly and remember instead that the people I stalk on the daily are actual humans who I know and can (gasp) talk to. Thanks to some amazing (re)connections I’ve made reaching out to people who inspire me, asking them to write for our blog, I’ve been making some moves that I didn’t even realize were bold. Somehow, reaching out and actually communicating directly with people seems even more rare now that we can see what our elementary school bully ate for breakfast (it was Belgian waffles). Maybe we know so much about one another’s lives that we don’t feel the need to know any more? Or maybe all the marketing people do to make themselves look good just causes us to become shy and ashamed. Like there’s no way someone who makes cakes that pretty actually wants to talk to me.
So when I met up with Alex, someone with an awe-inspiring life, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I mean, meeting up with someone you kinda knew 15 years ago could be super awkward and uncomfortable. But my time with her was exactly the opposite. Now a successful television producer, Alex is easy to talk to, vivacious, and inspiring. She’s the kind of person who decides she’s sick of being put in a box, so she jumps out of the box, fills it with dynamite and blows it up. She’s the kind of person who sees a photo of an elephant swimming in the ocean, finds out where that photograph was taken, and actually gets herself there. Alone. But not only that, she’s someone who makes you feel like you could do the same. Like you too could quit your job, travel the world, and look really great in hats. Alex is the kind of girl who inspires women to be better, to think more about who they are, what they do, and what they stand for. She’s the kind of woman I want to be.
Sadly, women who inspire, challenge, and support other women are extremely hard to come by. Women who actually hear one another, offering pieces of themselves to others are even harder to find. Women can be catty, competitive, and downright hard on one another. We size each other up, we leave one another out, we even call each other fat, ugly, stupid or all three. And you know what? Some of us never grow out of that. Take my grandmom for instance. She systematically bullied a woman named Flo from the year 1987 until around 2002. And I’m pretty sure the bullying only ended because Flo died.
In the past few years, I have met some fantastic women. People who make me feel amazing about who I am; people who have made me want to help others be better too. But I’ve also realized lately that although there are people in my past who should firmly remain there, there are others I may be overlooking, or maybe haven’t talked to or reached out to because I was scared that they’d think I was weird for wanting to actually connect with them. But with all of the “connections” we choose to make and keep, it’s still important to make real, actual, touch someone’s arm while you laugh at something funny they are saying, connections.
There is so much we can only learn from one another, like how exactly one quits her job and travels around India for months at a time, how to properly care for a particularly needy house plant, and how to not cry in a meeting (I’m still workshopping that one with Jennifer). But how can we really learn from one another if we don’t reach out and start an actual conversation?
Well, this started out as a post that was going to be about my love for Lena Dunham’s Women of the Hour, which Alex recommended, and turned into a love note about a girl I once knew. . .and now, know again. If it wasn’t 10:41 PM and I hadn’t had a large glass of Merlot after a very long day, I may think better of posting this as it could be viewed as creepy. But whatevs. Wine and feminism go hand in hand. And I’m feeling pretty freakin’ feminist right now.
Originally posted at inkandwell.org. Need help with content development, marketing, or other creative services? Nashville-based Ink & Well has you covered. We offer big city talent small-town price points. Visit our homepage and click through for a list of our amazing services, or click here to email Alee.