Tuesday, August 02, 2005

we used to be friends a long time ago

MM was SLAC-ing yesterday, so I met her for dinner in Shallow Palo Alto last night. I'm having a real grrrrl power kind of week, it seems. I am energized by women who are positive and supportive, rather than catty and undercutting. I know, file that in the no duh category.

One thing I particularly love about MM is her ability to define herself and her own identity outside of her marriage. She is about to undertake a major endeavour that will take her away from her husband for ten weeks. While she acknowledges the inherent difficulties of such an arrangement, she would not consider giving up the opportunity at this point in her life.

There are so many reasons to come to the Bay Area, and that's one of the perks of living here- an endless supply of out-of-town visitors. MM is one of three friends I retain from college, and we rarely saw each other until six months ago, when the SLAC beckoned her. The world contracts on nights like yesterday evening. We sat and chatted, and our conversation was completely and wholly altered from one we might have had when we were 18 and freaking out over whatever drama we had concocted for ourselves. And yet, it all felt familiar. In fact, it felt better than familiar. There is a certain angst that shed away, a skin that was no longer ours. We had been friends through school, but there had always been something or the other pulling the thread between us taut, fraying it just so. The only two women in a major filled with men, the only two women working in the labs, we tried to be united but we were too young and too insecure. I envied her blondness and all the advantages that came with that; she envied my legitimacy, the secret handshake I seemed to have into the boys' club. The years passed, and it's not as if we changed so radically. But the anxiety and resentment dissolved away completely. We wondered why we had wasted time straining that bond between us instead of using it to defeat those who stood in our way.

It is an exhausting and angering feeling, to tell a friend bad news, knowing that they are secretly happy about it. It is an exhausting and angering feeling, to tell a friend good news, knowing that they are secretly unhappy about it. But last night, there was no trace of such a feeling to be found. We celebrated successes and consoled failures, the way we always should have. But maybe that's just the power of a good chocolate torte and a tawny port at Niebaum-Coppola.

Tonight- more grrrrl power- I'm starting to feel like Tony the Tiger.

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