Best Girlfriends

I keep seeing annoying articles about how having best girlfriends will help a woman live longer. The posts are usually accompanied by a picture of a group of women in tiny outfits with drinks in their hands.

best friends

My best girlfriends and I don’t live as close together as we once did. We aren’t as skinny as we once were. We don’t get to see each other as often as we would like. We don’t wear maxi dresses. We don’t post pictures on Facebook or Instagram of us going out with our nails painted. We don’t visit L.A., New York, or Las Vegas. We have rarely gone on any vacations together in our adult lives.

My best girlfriends and I have been friends for more than 20 years. My best girlfriends are my people. They are my heart. My best girlfriends and I love each other. We look out for each other. We worry about each other. We talk to each other. We talk about each other. All of us would go to battle for one another in a heartbeat, even if we knew ahead of time that we would face defeat. We are sisters and that’s infallible.

Also, we are adults. My best girlfriends and I, for the most part, grew up together. But mostly, we grew up.

We have jobs. We have hobbies. We have classes. We have debts. We have to pay our rent or our mortgages. We have to pay our bills.

Some of us have children and we have to think about childcare or babysitting. Some of us have husbands or wives and we consider our partners in our plans. Some of us are dating. Some of us have more than one job or more than two jobs or more than three jobs. Some of us are struggling with money or depression or both.

Some of us have lost family members. Some of us have aging parents. Some of us have family members who are struggling and take up our time. Some of us live paycheck to paycheck and are trying to get by.  Some of us are working on our Master’s Degree. Some of us would rather work in the garden than check email. We all have different lives.

For the last six months I have tried to make plans with my best friends. Sometimes the plans work out.  Most of the time something comes up and we have to reschedule.

Never once have I wondered if my best friends have forgotten me. I don’t need a trip to Vegas or a fancy manicure or a medical study or a cheesy stock photo to give credence to a relationship that is obviously sustaining and precious.

I love my best girlfriends. I know that regardless of what life brings us, we will always have each other.

If having best girlfriends will help a woman live longer, I’m excited to live forever.

Pulse

rainbow flag

I was 18 years old in 1998 when two men tied Matthew Shepard to a fence and beat him to death.

I had just finished high school.

I had spent most of my high school career trying to convince the principal to allow a gay-straight alliance club on campus.

We were told that our club wasn’t in line with the values of the school.

It wasn’t in line with the pulse of education.

 

I was 12 years old when I had my first “family life” class.

I was taught about menstruation and relationships and sex.

Relationships were between one man and one women.

I remember my face turning red and my pulse quickening.

I was five years old when I kissed my best friend on the lips and told her that I loved her.

 

I was 19 years old when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, killed 13 people at Columbine High School.

I watched the news in my parent’s bedroom with the covers pulled up to my chin.

I wished then that I would never again see something so awful.

That was 17 years ago.

That was too many lives ago.

 

I was 21 years old on September 11th 2001.

I heard the news on the radio on my way to my community college.

We cried and sent confused glances at each other in the parking lot.

I had a test in my philosophy class that morning.

We were 60 kids filling out scantrons, trying to make sense of the world.

Nothing was the same after that.

 

I was 22 years old when I went to college at UC Davis.

The pulse of the world had changed.

Between classes, we protested the war.

Between classes we protested rape.

Between classes, we protested the military-industrial complex.

In 2003 we protested Lt. John Pike who was sued for gay-bashing one of his fellow members of the force.

Eight years later Lt. Pike became famous for brutally pepper spraying students for protesting.

 

I was 28 years old when Prop 8 passed.

I had protested that too.

And I had been spat on and chased and followed and terrorized.

Prop 8 gave a legitimacy to haters and bigots.

They felt empowered by policy.

We learned to take different routes home if we were walking, just in case.

 

I was 16 years old when I understood that I was queer.

I knew I was different and I knew that it mattered.

My mother had read my diary.

She told me to pretend that I was straight.

Not for social graces.  But for my own safety.

 

I was 33 years old when I married the love of my life.

We got married in Disneyland.

Our families were there.

We exchanged vows and rings.

We rode the train and it roared like the pulse of our heartbeats.

She wore a tux.  I wore a dress.

We ate red velvet cupcakes.

It was the best day of my life.

We still check our surroundings when we hold hands in public.

 

 

 

I’m 36 years old now.

And I feel like I have spent most of my life either grieving or living in fear.

This isn’t the world I had expected.

This isn’t the world I was promised.

This isn’t the world I had wanted.

I don’t want a world where people are shot for being gay.

I don’t want a world where people are shot.

 

We have to stop telling our children that it gets better until it is actually going to get better.

It has not gotten better.

 

I want to believe that love conquers all.

It’s just that love is a verb, an action word,

And without action, love does nothing.

 

We must be active in policy making

We must be active in peace making.

We must be active when we see injustice.

We must take action.

We must change the pulse of society.