Friendship, Being Onely, and Being Female July 22, 2008Posted by Onely in Food for Thought.
Tags: being single, feminism, friendship, place, single and happy, time, women
In an earlier post, Christina wrote about how she had been “thinking about how so often we measure the passage of time in units of relationships, marriages, and children” and went on to point out some of the many other markers we could use to “measure” and “value” what we’ve done in our individual lives. This post keeps making its way back into my mind because one of the most important markers, for me, has been and continues to be the handful of close female friends I have made and kept even while moving from place to place over the last 10 years or so.
I grew up in Kansas City, but when I moved to St. Louis for college, my parents moved to the San Fransisco Bay Area. Since high school, then, my “home” has always been exactly where I am living at the time, not where I grew up. So I’ve called five places “home” in my life, including both coasts (D.C. for my first graduate degree and the Bay Area for a few months here and there), the Midwest (St. Louis and Kansas City), and now, the South (Louisville). In three years, I’ll be moving again, wherever my first position as a full-time (and hopefully tenure-track) professor takes me.
And while many of my friends have disappeared over time, I’ve managed to keep a few from each place close to me (one of them is, obviously, Christina!). These are the friends who I call for no reason at all – just to catch up – and who enter my mind often, whether we talk every week or once every few months. And importantly, each of these friends reminds me of a particular time in my life: there’s Mallie, the first friend I made in college; there’s Katie, who lived down the hall from me during my freshman year of college; there’s Stephanie, the first friend I made while getting my first graduate degree; there’s Cynthia and Christina, both close friends from D.C.; and there are my other two friends named Lisa, both of whom became close friends once I moved back to St. Louis after living in D.C. All of these close friends, I realized recently, are women.
Maybe I’ve been thinking about the relationship between being Onely and friendships between women because a recently-made friend from Louisville decided to quit the Ph.D. program and is moving back home to Idaho (hi Andrea!). I’ll miss her a lot because she is one of only a few friends here who has been present for me at a moment’s notice. But at the same time, I’m not that sad, and I think it’s because it’s clear to me that even with distance, she’ll remain important in my life and will always be near my thoughts – like Mal and Katie and Stephanie and Cynthia and the Lisas. Andrea’s friendship represents yet another “marker” of a good time in my life, as does her leaving (one year of the Ph.D. down, three to go).
Although I think Christina and I agree that both men and women can understand and experience Oneliness, I’m certain that our perspectives as women have shaped and will continue to shape what we write and theorize about in this blog. Since we began this project, some recurring themes have emerged in my mind and in our individual research and drafting as we shape and share our ideas about what it means to be Onely. One prominent theme is feminism, about which I’ll elaborate more in a future post.
For the time being, I’ll ask you: Do you think there are important connections between friendship, being Onely and being female? Does gender matter when it comes to being Onely?