Sunday, August 15, 2010

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: "THE GIRLS"

Although I sometimes make fun of myself because of my monkey length arms, the animal I more closely have resembled for most of my life is the "lone wolf". Solitude has never scared me, in fact I have always needed more of it than most people. Often when I tell others this, they are in shock - "YOU??? Why you're so outgoing! So friendly! I don't mean to be rude, Julie, but you're so talkative!" And while all those things are certainly true (good lord, sometimes I swear I can't shut myself up!!!), it has never taken away from the fact that I NEED, and I mean NEED to be alone.
I long ago made peace with this facet of my personality, and have quite happily bowed out of parties, outings, and social doings, to spend some quality time with me, myself, and I. One of the reasons I knew my husband was the man for me is because we could be together so many hours of the day on our first vacation together, and I never once felt the all too familiar "I GOT TO GET OUT OF HERE" suffocation I quite often get when around too many people, for too long a time. But as nourishing as these personal space breaks are, they have come at a price - I don't have a lot of friends. Now before you start saying, "Awwwwww, poor Julie" - I don't mean that to say I'm lonely, and no one emails, calls, or facebooks me (ironically, on facebook, I have more friends than I truely know what to do with). What I mean is that I never had a "pack of friends", I never did roadtrips with, or went out with that group know as "THE GIRLS". In fact that type of thing was as alien to me as people who don't like Diet Peach Snapple (unheard of in my world) or working out (I know these folks exist, but how can they possibly not like to get a good sweat on?????). Even folktales containing tight friendships never registered on own my story radar, and I scoffed at stories like the Haitian tale 'Tipingee" when I heard them told - all that female bonding, come on, I would believe that Rapunzel's hair was real, and not a weave before I would buy that one.
You see, in the tale of Tipingee, a mean stepmother (sorry stepmoms everywhere, I know you get a bum rap in storyland) makes a deal with an old man. If he carries her wood, she (the stepmom) will give him her stepdaughter, Tipingee for a wife. In order to recognize her, the old guy is told what color dress Tipingee will be wearing the next day. But when Tipingee overhears this, she rushes to her group of friends and begs them to all wear the same color dress she is so as to confuse her would be kidnapper. Not only do the girls all dress alike (and we all know how embarrassing it is to come to the party wearing what others are wearing!!!!!!), they also taunt the man, all claiming that they are Tipingee. Confused and overwhelmed, the man gives up and leaves. Typical person's response: OOOOOOH, how sweet!!! Mine: OOOOOOOH, I don't think so!!!!!
But then - and there's always a "but then" moment, isn't there - I went to yoga teacher training school, and met the most amazing, welcoming, fearless women I had ever met in my life. At first, I was like I always am in groups - friendly, but not deep. Flitting around from person to person, never staying very long in a conversation, never revealing too much about myself - bubbly, fun, but pretty surface. But yoga is a funny thing, it works on more levels than any of us can truely understand - sort of the way deep wisdom tales in storytelling do, so that somewhere along the way in that year of weekends with these women, I opened up to them, I let myself be seen, and I realy saw them. We laughed and talked and giggled, but we also shared in a way that I have done with very few people in my life. They became individuals I really wanted in my life, they became "THE GIRLS". So, whereas I turned down my nose at the story of Tipingee before, I am now welcoming it into my repetoire, and I feel as if I can perform it from a place of truth, and a place that knows what a group of friends actually feels like. And each time I perform it, I will dedicate it to those women, who taught me so much about what friendship is!

1 comment:

Jessica said...

This made me cry and I don't cry easily. Such a beautiful story and your interpretation reminded me to be grateful for the amazing bond of female friendship. Am proud to be one of "The Girls" and I will be there anytime you need help confusing your kidnapper!
Love,
Jessica K.