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Coffee Talk

 "I’ve always believed that you know you’re surrounded by the right people when you can gather them all together and they can have a good time without you."

I’m not sure how I would do life without my girlfriends.

I thought of this most recently as a number of things were going right in my life, yet I had little time to gather with ‘the girls’ and share it. That’s the funny thing about true, dependable friendship; it doesn’t require daily contact. If you’re lucky, the bond is so strong you pick up where you left off as if no days have passed.

In the case of my tribe, my true ride or die, we can go months and there’s no love lost, there’s no hurt feelings, no explanation needed. We share an understanding with one another.

Separately we are very independent, strong, supportive women— together we’re, well, quite a handful. 

This quickly became apparent as three of my ‘ride or die’ friends joined staff photographer Marissa Cabral and I at a coffee shop for the photos to accompany this piece. 

I’ve always believed that you know you’re surrounded by the right people when you can gather them all together and they can have a good time without you. That is these three ladies defined. Each of them bears the title of affection as a “best” friend. Each are from separate circles, with paths that cross from one common denominator – moi. Yet, they are each strong enough to understand that role and not feel threatened by one another. Again, strong women.

These are the ladies who have held my hand through some pretty tough times – divorce, death, ill parent and personal health problems. They’re also the women I can depend on the most to “keep it real” and remind me who I am when the world tries to beat me down. Separately we have laughed a lot of laughs and shed a number of tears. They are the ladies that I would call in the middle of the night, the ones who know the dark secrets you’d rather not share with anyone, yet it feels good to have off your chest.

In short, these are my people and as much as they give to me, I give the same right back.

As we sat for the shoot and laughs began surrounding me, I marveled at the truth of our bond. These women are my friends, individual of one another. This is not a “girl group” I gather with regularly, yet here we were, a group of four in a coffee shop like we do this regularly.

My girlfriend Michelle was affectionately nicknamed Charlotte several years back when I entered the dating world after a 22-year hiatus and began feeling as if I was living a small-town version of life a la Carrie Bradshaw. She was my true believer that I would find love again. She’s also the reason I now share a life with my very own “Mr. Big.” She owns a hippy heart, much like myself and also shares a best friendship with my 12-year-old daughter. Their birthdays are two days apart, go figure. She’s the hopeless romantic of the three, but also the first to rise with the sword if someone does me wrong. She also tags along as my “wardrobe girl” on many of these magazine shoots. Gratefully, her daughter Lily filled in on this shoot for us.

Vickie, my fellow blonde and true ‘sister from another mister’ earned the nickname of SFAM many years ago. I’m still not sure if that’s the proper wording for that acronym as it was a nickname given to us by her then-teenage daughter. She’s the friend who told me to get out of my own way, when my life fell apart and I wondered how I would relocate myself and two small (ages four and seven) children as I struggled with divorce. In short, she helped compartmentalize my life during a time when I walked in a fog. Several years later, I returned the favor as her life flipped in a way she never could have prepared for. That’s who we are for one another. We also share birthdays a day and a few years apart.

As for Jen, she’s the boss I didn’t care for when returning to my job as a newspaper reporter months after my daughter was born. This can (and does) happen with strong women. Our visions were very similar, our delivery very different. In time, a friendship grew as we each pursued a healthier lifestyle and activities which went along with said change. We also shared a similar life as single girls, as well as a diehard love for Giants baseball. Jen became a voice of reason, straight talker in my personal life more than professional.

These are my people. I feel fortunate to share this is a highlight reel of three of the best I’ve been able to call “ride or die” friends. In truth, there’s a sub group just as valuable to me, but what I’ve learned through the years is sometimes it really is about quality over quantity. We really can’t be all things to all people.

So, here’s to girlfriends. The ones who pull toilet paper off your shoe, wipe mascara smudges from your eyes following tears and remind you that you don’t need a tiara straightened because that’s not who you are.