When my husband and I made the decision to move our family 45 minutes north of our Manhattan-centric suburban enclave, we knew a lot of things were going to change. There would be a new -- bigger and better! -- house, with bigger, but not better issues. There would be a new school for our 3 and 4-year-old sons. There would be a longer commute for my husband. And a day-consuming commitment when I needed to trek into the city for work.
Most importantly, though, there would be a fresh start in a brand new town where we knew no one and no one knew us. Somewhat daunting, but mainly exciting.
Before the move, I lay awake at night worrying about how the kids would adapt. And, prior to that, how we were possibly going to pack everything up. Would my Type A personality actually survive the process?
I agonized about the minutiae, such as: Where will I get a bikini wax? Who will highlight my hair? Or paint my nails? Will there be suitable food delivery options? One of the items I did not give a whole lot of thought to was how I was going to make friends. Would I click with the other moms at my kids' new school? Would they click with me? Would I meet people wandering through the supermarket?
Working from home can be both a gift and a curse. On the one hand, you don't need to face anyone every day. (Excellent, for when you have a honking cyst on your chin). At the same time, there are no colleagues to lunch with or to gather around the proverbial water cooler with to rehash last night's episode of The Bachelorette. It can be secluding to say the least.
And female friendships, especially new ones, can be convoluted. I learned this the hard way when I started my career at ABC News. After a few short weeks, what I'd noticed was that the men were all welcoming and supportive, whereas the women were typically icy and wary. Did they think I was plotting to steal their jobs? Angling to work harder than they wanted to or were accustomed to? I knew to watch my back. I'll leave it at that.
So when we moved to Westport and I was in the throws of writing my new novel When We Fall, the timing could not have been more serendipitous. I was able to explore the slippery slope of female friendship right along with Allison, the main character in my book. Like Allison, I was meeting a lot of new people. Trying to remember everyone's names was hard enough! On top of that, I was faced with the equally complicated task of weeding out the fair weathers, like the woman who -- quite clearly -- just wanted to be friends with me because she thought I was remotely famous (sorry to disappoint!) and what fun it would be to sit around name-dropping over Cobb salads (no dressing!). There were women who flashed bright smiles as I walked by and then whispered to their friends as soon as they thought I was out of earshot. I'd love to think they were complimenting my tight rear end, but I'm going to go out on a limb and say pretty unlikely.
Why are women this way? I will never understand. Men don't gossip. Men don't hold grudges. Men don't notice when their friends' ankles are swollen and take pleasure in it. They talk about whatever comes to their minds at the moment, trade pats on the back, and walk away without giving each other a second thought.
In one way, female friendships -- the solid ones -- can be nourishing and should be cherished, something I feel few men truly get to experience. And I've definitely found a handful of those. Still, I wish I had a better comprehension of why women are the way they are. So instead of asking -- because I doubt that would make me very popular (Um, so why is it you're a total b*tch!?)--I've decided the best approach is to write books about it!
Read: You might want to stay on my good side or you'll be the villain in my next novel.
Of course, in When We Fall, there's whole other element at play. What do you do when your female friend is equally close with your husband as she is with you? Perhaps, as in Allison's case, they knew each other before you two met. Is that kosher? I'll never forget Billy Crystal's declaration in When Harry Met Sally when he insisted men and women can not be friends because one or the other always harbors some romantic feelings or sexual attraction toward the other. I think Billy is probably right on this one. I can say with certainty that I would not want my husband chillaxin' with one of my girlfriends all the time when I wasn't around. But, it is NOT because I don't trust my husband. It's because I've been trained not to trust women in general. How awful is that?
So... ladies (and gents); I need your help. Please comment here or send me an email via my website. Tell me what your experience has been with female friendships, women colleagues in the work place, and whether or not you'd feel comfortable if your significant other was just as close with one of your girlfriends as she was with you. I'll look forward to some juicy replies! In the meantime, I'll be trying to make some more real friends. Oh, and writing more books...