The Tending of Friendships

At the end of the 9th episode of season 3 of Fargo, two police officers meet at a bar to discuss the case they have been working on together. Gloria Burgle, played by Carrie Coon, tells Winnie Lopez, played by Olivia Sandoval, about her frustrations. Her superior officer is condescending and sexist. He doesn’t believe her theories on the case involving the murder of her step-father. She’s exhausted and ready to resign from the force. On top of that, she admits to Winnie that automatic doors don’t open for her. She can’t get the hands free faucets or dryers to work. The sensors don’t recognize her. In a wrenching moment, Gloria confesses to Winnie she often thinks perhaps she doesn’t really exist. Maybe she is invisible. Winnie then tells her to stand up. Gloria rises and Winnie embraces her in a giant hug that lasts for close to a minute. At first Gloria stiffens, but soon melts into Winnie’s inviting arms. When they finish, Winnie suggests Gloria head to the ladies’ to freshen up. In the next scene, Gloria is getting ready to wash her hands in the restroom and the faucet turns on immediately after she waves her hands in front of it. She looks up and smiles when she sees herself in the mirror. Winnie’s mighty hug sparked Gloria’s energy. She is not a ghost, a flimsy specter with no voice. She’s Gloria Burgle, a woman with a fierce sense of honor and justice.

When I watched this scene unfold I felt myself audibly gasp. Gloria was there, but she had lost her confidence. Winnie’s human contact renewed Gloria’s voice. This scene reminded me of the power we women have when we reach out to one another. Our connections solidify our foundations. We keep each other upright on that flimsy tightrope spanning the raging falls. We scream, “Don’t look down! Keep your eyes on me!” We then hold out our hands, and pull each other to the safety of solid ground.

We are there at bedsides, church pews, poolside chaise lounges, and bleachers. We ride shot gun, with the windows down and Bon Jovi blasting from the radio. We cry. We listen. We hold hands. We nod in understanding. We argue. We make up. We can lose through neglect, yet sometimes we find each other again and it is precious.

During this move of ours I was worried about leaving friends behind. I needed their support, encouraging words, and hilariously dirty stories. Would I ever find women who could hold my deepest secrets close to their hearts? Would I be adrift?

I quickly discovered I wasn’t leaving anyone behind. These women are forever with me in texts, Facebook posts, phone calls, and quick trips back to my hometown for coffee or lunch dates. And now, I am slowly tiptoeing into new friendships. I am searching out fierce women who aren’t afraid of the mess, who celebrate their flaws, and who love whole-heartedly. I’m open to expanding my tribe.

Yesterday I invited a dear old friend over for lunch. We once knew each other in high school when we spent our evenings crammed into cars, cruising the streets in search of excitement in our sleepy town. We worked together at the local pizza parlor where she ran the front desk and I assembled the pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. Throughout the years we have sporadically stayed in touch, yet life and children and husbands and grief tugged us in different directions. Now we live within miles of one another. We spent the afternoon sharing stories. I was amazed at the honesty. Nothing was glossed over as we talked about the sharp edges of our lives and how we have travelled parallel paths. I am grateful for this woman and our commitment to nurture our new-found connection.

This is a lesson I have learned as I’ve aged. I can’t expect friendships to materialize out of nothing. I must make an effort, reach out to forge and maintain relationships. Sometimes it is hard and scary, yet necessary. If someone is important to me, I will send that text, make that phone call, offer an invite to lunch, because my women friends make me stronger, and I hope I offer them the same. Just like Winnie helped Gloria retrieve her mojo, my friends give me innumerable gifts for which there will never ever be enough thank-you cards.

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” — Jane Austen

“Women understand. We may share experiences, make jokes, paint pictures, and describe humiliations that mean nothing to men, but women understand. The odd thing about these deep and personal connections of women is that they often ignore barriers of age, economics, worldly experience, race, culture — all the barriers that, in male or mixed society, had seemed so difficult to cross.” — Gloria Steinem

“I’m so thankful for friendship. It beautifies life so much.” ― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Avonlea

“Remember, ‘No one’s more important than people! In other words, friendship is the most important thing―not career or housework, or one’s fatigue―and it needs to be tended and nurtured.” ― Julia Child, My Life in France






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