Almost a year ago, I contributed my first post to this blog. I wrote about the struggles I had encountered mostly during my time pursuing my PhD in Religious Studies. Reflecting on my experiences helped me realize the impact women have had on my successes and how their support during my failures meant everything.
Now, I’m reflecting on a similar theme but with particular attention to my friendships with women. Certain events that have taken place over the past few days have helped shed light on these friendships and how the dynamic I have with two women, in particular, has shaped my personhood, helped my continued pursuit to define what feminism means to me, resulting in a spiritual, faithful experience.
First, my mother last week asked me to come over to the house and pick up some things I had neglected to take with me when I moved out years ago. When I got back to my house I carefully started perusing these boxes and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. My mother had saved things I would have never even remembered I owned. I discovered pictures from a trip I took to Japan during high school. I found trinkets I had collected from my adventures while studying abroad, including a detailed journal I kept my first year away at college.
Buried underneath all these memories I uncovered a jewelry box. There were some earrings I hand crafted when I was in junior high school, an old bracelet that once belonged to my mother, a ring my dad gave me when I was in 6th grade. There were two items that literally took my breath away, just sitting unassumingly amongst all of these other treasures: one half of a best friend necklace, (mine said best) and a handmaid friendship bracelet that was covered in salt, representing the summers I spent learning to surf and sail with my best friend when I was in elementary school.
The necklace was gifted to me by Shelley, my oldest, dearest friend since eight years old as was the bracelet. She gave me the bracelet the first summer we learned to surf and I remember this because she made it all shades of blue to represent the ocean. I don’t know if one day, I would have wondered to myself whatever happened to that best friend necklace I used to wear when I was nine years old, but I can say when I saw that slightly tarnished, silver necklace, I was literally breathless. All of the memories I shared with Shelley came flooding back to me and I felt warm, happy, sad, nostalgic. I felt as if she was in the room with me and it was truly a spiritual experience.
To uncover all of these treasures from so long ago caused feelings of gratefulness to my dear mother for thinking to save all these items for me for over 20 years! I felt elated that after all these years and all these memories, Shelley and I still talk almost once a month. The best part of this experience came the next day, however. Sometime the very next afternoon, I received a series of text messages from Shelley. Completely out of the blue and unprompted she wrote that I had been popping into her head all day and so she wanted me to know she was thinking of me and that her eldest daughter was having her first sleep over birthday party this week.
To mark the occasion she let her daughter go into her jewelry box and pick out something special to wear. She said her daughter chose a ring made of abalone that I had given to Shelley when we were ten years old. To think that we were remembering each other and the memories we shared 25 years ago, at the same time, was unbelievable to me and reminded me of the friendship we have shared all these many years, first as young girls and now as grown women. Our connection as women has grown stronger over the years and I’m happy to add this occasion as part of what is so important to me about feminism and spirituality.
Lastly, while all of this magic was happening, one of my very best friends, Elyse, had been vacationing in China. She was gone for two weeks and took the opportunity, due to government restrictions on social media applications among other things there, to “unplug” as it were. Meaning, Elyse would not have her phone or email access during her two week visit. I was slightly anxious at this thought in the beginning of her trip, but over these two weeks, my anxiety turned into sadness, loneliness and longing for her friendship.
Her absence during these very, very, very long two weeks made me realize how much I have come to depend on her companionship, her support. I talk to this woman multiple times throughout the day via text message, email, Facebook etc. Without her availability and support I felt a huge void and I was so happy when she returned. I caught her up on everything that happened in my life during the time she was gone, which wasn’t much. But, as I sat on the couch rambling off some new recipes that I discovered, the funny things my pets did, the changes to my husband’s work schedule, all the mundane things that happen in a life when someone is away, I had a moment where I looked at her face, so expressionful and so interested in these everyday things, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for this woman and her eight year friendship.
My revelation about two of the amazing friendships I have with women and how their support and in one case, 25 year loyalty, means everything for my successes in this life as a woman, my life would be so much worse without their support and love during my failures. I am so blessed.
Michele Buscher, PhD, received her degree from the Claremont Graduate University in 2013. Her PhD is in Religious Studies with an emphasis on Theology, Ethics and Culture.