Thursday, March 25, 2010

Girl's Girl

I've never really been the new kid.

After attending the same small private school for 12 years and later caravanning to college with the same lifelong friends, I made it through my tweens, teens and early twenties alongside a pretty consistent crew (and I mean that in the most gangsta of ways). At no stage in life did I ever need to try very hard to make new friends.

Sure, I branched off in college and made dozens of friends outside this familiar network. But, as for close girlfriends the same BFFs from grade school remained. These girls are my history. They knew me when...I wore a little boy's bob haircut, forehead-full of blunt bangs and a mouthful of braces (which they cruelly nicknamed Crayola for the colorful rubber bands around each bracket that changed hue with what I ate). Through thick, thin and awkward, I was always surrounded by at least a handful of pretty solid girlfriends.

That was until I moved to New York City and for the first time in a couple decades became the new kid.

I arrived in this city with a very short list of people I knew. There was my big brother (thank God), one good male friend, one son of my parents' friends (who I moved in with) and a handful of male acquaintances. Not one girl.

Those lifelong best girlfriends I mentioned were (and still are) just a phone call away, but the distance created a very distinct void. It dawned on me after my first few plan-less weekends that I had arrived in a new city with no default, no sidekick, nobody who simply assumed we would hang out come Friday night. Of course, I found plenty to do. My two male roommates let me piggyback their plans and the few guy friends I knew made great company. But, I missed the estrogen. I longed to spend my time with someone who just understood me, no explanation necessary.

So, I made it my mission to befriend a new crop of girls.

Post-college New York City does not make this easy, especially since I took a job at a place where I'm at least 15 years younger than most of my colleagues. I kept thinking a cool, normal, easy-going girl would just pop up some place, approach me on the street or, I don't know, fall out of the sky and into the pedicure chair next to mine. I quickly learned, however, that befriending a girl as a girl requires pretty specific strategy, not so different from what it probably takes to pursue a girl as a guy, just harder.

You meet her at a party. You like her boots and she's laughing at the same slightly offensive joke you just chuckled at. She spends her time at the food table (my preferred locale). Then she reveals that she also loves horrible reality television and has been dying to see the newest exhibit at the MOMA.

She's the girl's girl holy grail. But, you can't just walk up and throw a BFF FOREVER slap bracelet on her wrist. It's much more subtle than that. You gotta find some common ground and probably bump into her a couple more times before suggesting that you hang out without coming off as a total creep. It can be nerve racking and as odd as it sounds. You're virtually "courting" another girl and (despite a quick stint in a sorority) I'm not really built for that.

Even if you make it to a second girl "date", friendships with brand new people at this age seem especially tough to keep up. And, since I'm meeting these people in New York, it's very likely that the girl I think is cool is actually nuts.

Two years since my move, I'm happy to count a pretty awesome (very tiny) group of new girls as my close friends. It took just about all of those two years, but I finally have some pseudo defaults- girls who wonder what I'm up to when they don't hear from me, girls who join me for chick flicks and invite me to drinks after work.

My experience as the new lonely kid in a new city has made me especially grateful for the sincere friendships I've built over the years. As I get older and it gets easier to recognize who will likely be on my recently placed call list forever, I consider myself very lucky. There's some real quality there. For the little braceface with messy bangs, that's no small feat.


  1. I know exactly how you feel. Just trust your gut. :) You can spot a crazy girl from a mile away.
    I love you.

  2. My hero...I laughed out loud at the crazy girl part in the post. I feel so fortunate too that I can claim I am a girl's girl. To many more years and making memories with our girls whether we are near or far <3

  3. Fantastic! However, you are missing one more person in that photo :(

  4. Aww what a sweet post. We've talked about this before but it was nice to read about it too. I hope I made the cut for the non-crazy girlfriends group in the city. haha Speaking of which, what're you doing this weekend?

  5. I just had a flashback to your birthday party in, what was it, 5th or 6th grade? You began the boy-girl party trend, such a trendsetter even then!

  6. Nana, do u still have the glasses you are wearing in this picture?? They rule. Also, this post is so true, if you even make one good real girlfriend in your post 20's (without being in school, which makes it so much easier) consider yourself lucky! Courting girlfriends is scary! haha