This week I had a slumber party. It was hosted by my friend Karyn from Baltimore, where I traveled for a speaking engagement, and we were joined by our two friends from Monsey, NY, who drove four hours each way to hear my talk and join the after-party.
Adult female friendship is just in a league of its own. At this point in my life, I am over the drama of my younger years. I know who I am and what I need from a friend. Age doesn’t matter – I actually don’t even really know how old my slumber-party friends are, but two are definitely older than me by at least a decade. All of these friendships are relatively new and were started online – first on Facebook, then in a small Whatsapp chat that morphed into real conversations and in-person meetups.
My women friends are some of the smartest, most evolved, most growth-oriented people I know. They always know just what to say to cheer me up and build my soul. They are wickedly funny and soulfully pure. They are real and fearless. They are strong and smart and wise. They are secure enough to be vulnerable and self-aware enough to know when not to be vulnerable.
At Karyn’s, we sat around and drank wine made at home by her husband Gianni, who is, oh, also a world-famous glass-blowing maestro. We laughed and we sighed and we toasted. We stayed up too late shmoozing, and then my NY friends got up before 5 am to drive to work (I, on the other hand, slept in). I am still basking in the warmth of their love and their light.
My talk in Baltimore was called “The Secret to Successful Relationships,” and in it, I shared Jewish wisdom on getting along with family members. I started the talk by saying, “There are some people who are easy to get along with. They know what you need and they know what to say. They are there for you when you need them, and always know how to anticipate your needs. These people are called friends.” (Pause for laughter.)
I have a theory about why the TV show Friends was such a huge hit. Well, yes, attractive people and an attractive apartment and attractive jokes help. But I think people really, really crave that type of friendship, where people care for one another, not because they have to, but because they want to. We so badly desire relationships that are comfortable and not fraught. We need to be with others in a drama-free zone where we are understood and loved and heard. And whether we have it ourselves or not, it’s so enjoyable to watch it, and to feel a part of that kind of friendship in a virtual world.
People often decry today’s cyber “friendships,” citing their lack of realness and lack of true commitment; that you can varnish yourself to appear as something you’re not, as something that’s far more exciting and desirable than anything in real life. This is true. But you can also, as my experience shows, find “friends” online who become friends in real life, where the realness exists and the commitment is true. With these friends, you can appear exactly as you are with no judgment, and be loved just for you. The internet is simply a collection of people, and you can take it wherever you want.
But one thing is for sure: FaceTime can never replace face time and messaging can never substitute for an actual conversation with a live human being. And nothing, nothing at all, can parallel a slumber party with four women, of all ages and stages, who love each other dearly, who can laugh together and cry together and drink wine together, who may have met on Facebook, but who now know each others’ faces like a book.
Cheers, then, to friendship – one of the greatest gifts one human can give another.