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Why We Need Our Girlfriends, Now More Than Ever

Connections are giving me the strength to endure a long and difficult road.

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Roeqiya Fris
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I pulled into the parking lot of my favorite metro park to meet a longtime friend I hadn’t seen in months. Thanks to COVID-19, I’ve spent too much time stuck at home with nowhere to go and no one to see. Like everyone else living through this pandemic, I’ve been desperately needing in-person contact with someone other than my family —  and I've especially missed seeing my friends.

Walking outside in the fresh air, while social distancing, was the solution to this pervasive problem, and I couldn’t wait to spend time with this particular friend I’ve known for years. I ran over to her, waving my hands in the air while yelling “Ahhhhh!” as she did the same walking toward me. “How are YOU?” she exclaimed with excitement to see me. “I’m like THIS!” I shook my clenched fists toward the sky with an angry grimace and then proclaimed, “But I’m going to be like THIS soon!”

I slowly spread my arms wide, lifted my head to the sky, and smiled with a deep, long exhale. We both laughed and she agreed wholeheartedly to the same. We began our long walk, through miles of pathways that wound around a gorgeous landscape full of mazes of fragrant flowers alluring our senses with nature’s greatest gifts. It was quiet and serene — with the exception of the exquisite sounds of birds chirping and small animals moving through dried-up leaves and cracked twigs on the forest’s ground. We started with nonstop chattering back and forth, sharing any new updates in our lives, much like a frenzied purge of all the things we’ve held in for too long. We tackled lots of topics, like our work and families, our marriages and the latest news about our kids. We talked about how hard everything has been since COVID hit and how weary we are from it all. We sorted through the latest news of restrictions and cancellations, CDC guidelines and school protocols, while also bemoaning all the challenges the future will certainly hold. We listened to one another, nodding in support while affirming the other’s feelings and frustrations, victories and celebrations. We had missed our time together. Being in one another's company is now a rare privilege we no longer take for granted.

We met when both our daughters started dance class, back in the days when they were cute little fumbling ballerinas with bows in their hair and skips in their step. During our kids’ younger years, we went on fun excursions together where our little girls and their younger brothers enjoyed all the fun activities we carefully planned out for them to experience. Now we have teenagers, and things are so very different in both glorious and gut-wrenching ways. We’ve long since replaced those playdates with the hard-earned time alone, savoring a friendship that continues on. 

Our relationship has endured all the changes and transitions over the years because it was solidified at the start with an immeasurable outpouring of respect for one another that had no conditions. We are as different as night and day when it comes to our religion and political views, which adds rich flavor to a friendship if you nourish it well. We have our own unique daily disciplines and lifestyle choices with kids who are entirely different to raise, too. It’s a beautiful thing, really, when you can appreciate someone else’s perspective while still valuing your own. You can learn a lot if you’re willing to listen. Once the surge of updates dwindled down, we dove into sharing personal issues that needed sifting and sorting through. This is where the gold nuggets appear, the ones we dig deep to find under the busyness of our lives.  

We swayed back and forth in a perfect walking rhythm that went unnoticed because we were so intrinsically intent on one another’s stories, understanding the threaded history behind each one. There’s a certain reverence that is felt amid the outpouring of pure, unbridled release. When we are truly free to allow those hidden smoldering fires that burn in our deepest places to come to the surface in roaring flames, we are better able to douse them with picking apart the kindling that started them in the first place. Eventually, the scorching heat subsides and sometimes we might even be able to sweep the charred ashes away.  

These are the conversations that can’t come through any virtual device. They need a real-life person in front of you, paying close attention to the undulating tone in your voice and how the pressure in the air shifts when things are said. These types of talks deserve a fluency that can’t be fashioned through text messages or phone calls, Zoom meetings or Google chats. They only come to life in the presence of another. This is the magic of connection, and it’s what I’ve missed most during these isolating months. The true essence of humanity is found in this sacred space, and it has been eliminated from much of our lives. Throughout this pandemic, I’ve met with some of my best girlfriends to walk outside, safely social distancing, and each time I leave feeling valued and heard, nourished and seen. I hope and pray they do, too. In a world that is so dark and uncertain, I cherish these walks and talks with my friends — now more than ever. I relish in the restoration that comes from this vital connection. It fills me and feeds me with the strength to endure this long and difficult road.