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Girls and Giggles

I’m not sure where I would be without my ‘Giggles.’ That’s what I came to realize most recently as I struggled to help my daughter navigate life as a 12-year-old and what “real” friends look like.

Finding friends doesn’t always come easy. While for some of us it may appear as if our friend circle is large, the quality of friendship is something completely different.

I touched on this topic briefly in my “Coffee Talk” piece in the August/September issue. As that piece went to print, I couldn’t help but think of my childhood bestie Mari (aka Giggles) and the richness she’s brought to my life, as well as my family’s.

This November marks 42 years of friendship for us, as two young girls who met as neighbors when I moved in just a few doors down. The irony of our story is we met on Thanksgiving, as my mom was hosting our family dinner and all of us kids were outside playing.

One year younger than me and both only children, we became fast friends. Our parents both commuted from the Bay Area peninsula of San Mateo to San Francisco and we both loved music and variety shows. The funny thing is, when you’re young that’s really about all you need to feel connected to another person. We also had mad crushes on Scott Baio back then. 

Those things aside, from the physical sense we were complete opposites, me a tall blonde, Mari a short bright eyed brunette. We found our way to plenty of trouble but mostly spent our days away from school in the company of each other. A built-in sisterhood thanks to neighboring homes.

One summer we were gifted the name the “Giggle Sisters” by a neighborhood character we secretly called Spacey Stacey. She was a bit older than us and always seemed to be harassing us about some teen wisdom we cared nothing about. 

Mari … Giggles, as I prefer to call her, has seen me through a lot of highs, as well as lows. She was my maid of honor, as well as the first place I escaped to when my children went to stay with their father for the first time after my divorce. She is the stark voice of reason I intentionally avoid at times, yet am grateful for all at once. She also knew that my children’s father would not be my “forever” mate as the relationship had definite “red flags” as she would say. I of course was determined to show her I knew best and 22 years later, the relationship took its final crumble.

Granted, with two beautiful children and a host of great memories, there are no regrets in that chapter of my life. While she knew (or felt she did) what would fit best, she was still supportive, no different than I to her on some of her big life choices. 

I truly began giving more thought to this wonderfully unique friendship as my daughter began trying to find her way in different friend circles a few years back. A hippy heart with a loving spirit isn’t always easy in a judgmental, mean girl world. Like her mom, she relates better with boys and well, at nine years old or 12, that’s not easy to navigate.

Fortunately, she too has a lifelong bestie (at the ripe old age of 12). She and her friend Ellie first came to find one another at the innocent age of four-years-old in preschool. While much of their early scholastic days kept them together, that would prove to be tested when Ellie’s education detoured from that of my daughter’s. Determined to remain together, the two would inquire on playdates and sleepovers whenever possible. Thanks to the iPhone/iPad they’re also able to maintain communication via iCloud accounts, as they both have parents who don’t feel they’re quite ready for smart phones.

As I’ve watched their friendship over the years … the bickering, tattling, frustration and fun … it reminds me much of my sisterhood with Giggles. These are the friendships we learn to cherish. The friends who challenge as well as love us. The ones who may know of our imperfections yet stand their ground to defend us. In short, the ones who not only share our memories but share our hearts. 

When I was young and well into my adulthood, I always knew that regardless of where I lived, the faces that called me “friend” or the challenges I might face, I always had “Giggles.” That’s what I hope for my daughter, as well as every young girl trying to find their way. Quality over quantity is indeed a valuable thing. 

I’m fortunate to have some true quality women, which I call my tribe, but I’m blessed to forever have the love and devotion of Giggles.