Sitting, waiting at the Toyota dealership for three hours for a routine maintenance and annual inspection of my husband’s SUV, before we can pay the taxes on it, I saw a woman approach me. She stopped directly in front of me and stared at me as I read Run Rose Run.
“Honey, you must have some real good legs.”
“Huh?” I replied, confused, as I looked up from Dolly Parton’s novel.
“To sit like that.”
I had one leg tucked under me. I’ve sat this folded way since childhood. She continued, “Dat chair over der…” She signaled to a straight-back chair across the waiting room. “Dat chair’s talkin’ to my back…in German!”
I laughed. She shook her head and muttered “Lordy” and moseyed on. I thought then how much I enjoy random conversations with women in random places.
What I interpret as girl power is the ability to strike up a dialogue with another female, a stranger even, and relate to her. Women my age have back issues. I’m glad I look approachable enough for this lady to want to commiserate with me and simultaneously compliment me. I’ve never thought of myself as particularly flexible – at least not in the past 30 years. I don’t exercise anymore.
Girl Power, to me, is a sisterhood where no matter one’s socio-economic, racial, educational or physical status, a female can relate to another woman because we all share certain commonalities, like backs aching as we age.
Some women say they marry their soulmates. My husband isn’t my soulmate. Not one of my boyfriends, when I was a teen, was either. My soulmates are my girlfriends. Back in grammar school, I was part of a Brownie troop, a sisterhood. One of those Brownies was my best friend Judy who rode bikes with me all over Cedarbrook Park in Plainfield, New Jersey. We had loads of adventures, especially when we crashed our cycles riding down Suicide Hill, and… discussions.
In high school, I had a group of close girlfriends with whom I attended parties, school dances, school clubs, and sports events, and I even played some sports, like field hockey. Kathy, my BFF in high school, and I strolled all over Scotch Plains, our town. She smoked her Virginia Slims while I spouted my theories on this or about that. We were each other’s counselors.
In college, my roommate Cora and I ate our meals together, shopped together, took some classes together, and even vacationed together freshman year. She lived in Florida. At age 18, I’d never been farther south than Durham, North Carolina where college was. Nonetheless, I thought I knew about Florida. I’d seen the movie Where the Boys Are. And from that film, I concluded that during spring break, the boys were in Florida. When I hurried out onto the beach in Sarasota, Florida, the youngest male on the beach was…my roommate’s retired father! “There are more boys on the Jersey shore,” I lamented. Cora told me I was on the wrong coast.
In college, I joined a sorority, and my Big Sis, Sally, included me in many activities. We’d stay up late, gabbing about whatever had transpired that day. She arranged a blind date for me with a cute boy from Georgia, who drove a Firebird. The Firebird is long gone, but that cute boy and I are still plugging on – four kids and eight grandkids later.
Teaching school in Atlanta, another teacher and I became best buddies, confidantes, and lifelong pals. Now, Beth and I chat almost every week all these years later. After my husband and I moved back to NC from GA, we settled in a small rural town, and through garden clubs, art-for-the-hospital society, church, the neighborhood, PTA, bridge groups, kids’ sports, and teaching, I met wonderful women. Many pals were the parents of kids my kids hung out with. Laura, Margaret, Jane, Donna, Betty, Eileen, and others I’m still in close contact with decades later – after our kids have grown and flown the coop.
Presently, as an empty nester living in a neighboring town to where we raised our children, I’ve met new pals through book clubs and volunteer activities and writing: Claudia, Cynthia, Claire, and Carol. And some I don’t see regularly, anymore, like Sheila, because of life situations changing and folks moving; yet we stay in touch. Other close pals are wives of my husband’s friends like Becky and Dallas and now my pals, too.
I’ve never darkened a therapist’s threshold. I’ve friends – ladies who listen and to whom I listen. For some, the definition of Girl Power may mean attaining CEO status or graduating with a Ph. D or M.D. after your name or being a successful entrepreneur or selling a gazillion copies of one’s books through networking or many other things that signify success. Yet, for me, girl power is having female friends you trust and who trust you; sharing your life’s ups, downs, and in-betweens with empathetic folks, who aren’t your kin, employers, or anyone who has an obligation that forces them to accept you. Girl Power is a choice women make when they choose to connect to other women simply because they want to.
Like spiderman, women with their superpower reach out across divides, distances, and time to befriend other gals, having no other ulterior motive but seeking friendship. Girl power is that ability and blessing to understand our gender and to want to connect with other souls who understand what it means to be a female.