My friend calls to see if I want to go to dinner…”girls’ night out.” Usually we get together on a week night so we don’t impact weekend family time. We all work, so weekend time is premium, and everyone respects that. And somehow, dinner out on a week night seems like an extra special treat. Nice to know I don’t have to think about what to make for dinner, just about what to order. As much as I love puttering around the kitchen and stirring up my favorite foods, I’m always appreciative of someone else doing the cooking.
There’s no set schedule for these outings. Sometimes we’ve made it a monthly event, but it’s always casual, determined by travel demands and how hectic life is for each of us. There are times when adding anything, even something that should be fun, is just too much. Some weeks are like that. Some months are like that.
We come from diverse backgrounds, this little group. All my adult life, I’ve been fortunate to have girlfriends. For a long time, the primary bond was formed through my children. You know, you meet the moms in your kids’ circle, in the carpool group, through youth group, soccer, etc., etc., etc. In more recent years, post children, and after a couple of relocations, my friendships grow out of work relationships or other ties, but I’m no longer connected through kid activities.
Although we are of similar ages, some of us are in the empty nest phase (me) and others still have kids at home. Our conversation reflects this. I now talk about a grandchild, and celebrating her first birthday. I have a son-in-law, a daughter-in-law. The women who are a bit behind me, either in age or in life cycle, still have school events to plan for, graduations, college. But regardless, we’re close enough in experience that we speak each other’s language.
The little circle of friends I have here comes from all over: Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Mexico, Washington, the mid-West. Alaska casts a wide net, drawing people for many reasons. Most of my friends came here with husbands, but a few came alone and have made a home here, drawn by the adventure, the beauty, the uniqueness of the state.
We talk about the same things that women everywhere speak of: family concerns, work, hobbies, new finds, frustrations, the next trip out (when you live on an island, travel is always a big event and commitment, both in time and money). Husbands. Children. What broke recently and how much it cost to fix it. Sometimes we share from the heart, expose bits of ourselves to the others. Sometimes the evening is all laughter and fun. But always, there is awareness that for a few hours, we are women as well as wives, daughters, mothers, employees. Actually, we are girls, and on a good night, diners at the tables around us smile as they recognize the camaraderie that occurs in the company of women. We giggle, tell our stories, sympathize, encourage, hug, share appetizers and desserts, tell each other we’ll do it again soon. Most nights we leave the restaurant just before the staff closes up, realizing guiltily that it’s late and tomorrow is a work day.
But no matter, that’s part of the charm. When you’re with girlfriends, enjoying “girls’ night out,” you don’t watch the clock or notice the passing time. You’re just celebrating the moment. Here’s hoping you have good women in your life. (And if you happen to be a guy reading this, just change the references from female to male. It’s good for men to bond too, and I hear that sometimes happens.)