I arrived alone with $100. I rationed my $20 cash in the airport to have a piece of pizza. I don’t even eat pizza but it was the cheapest thing on the menu. I remembered I had unused train tickets in my attache that I could use to get close to my friend’s house. My cell phone only worked on wifi (still does for that matter) so I had to let her know my arrival time from the airport free wifi connection and hope everything else ran on time. (Does anyone remember when that’s how all communications and pickups and connections were made?? Let me call my friend from my rotary phone on the wall of my kitchen and tell her I’ll be there in 30 minutes. If something caused delays, well, you showed up when you showed up and guess what? Your friend was still there because that’s just what you did! None of this “oh my time is so much more valuable than waiting around for someone so after 15 minutes I gotta go.” But I digress…)
I had let a few friends know I would be in town for a couple weeks and then my husband would meet me after his international work. I had some dinners lined up that I was looking forward to and I had asked some of those same friends if I could stay overnight for 2-3 nights before I moved on to the next place. Sure! No problem! Of course!
They were all so accommodating. There were other friends I wanted to see but one of my classic phone transfers a few years prior had led to losing essentially all of my treasured contacts but managed to save 50 contacts I barely knew or better yet, didn’t know who they were at all. Technology is a cruel joke sometimes. Hey, look at me, I’m a smart phone that by default saved all your contacts to the phone memory rather than the cloud because that seemed like the best way to do it. I also didn’t ask you if you needed those contacts when you decided to wipe your phone and sell it for another plane ticket. You really should have read the online instruction guide I sent you in the welcome email you tossed in the Trash folder. Whoa….digression in full force!
I beat my friend to the train station but it wasn’t long before the familiar little red car came around the corner and there she was, smiling and waving from behind the steering wheel. What a welcome sight! A perfect cozy bedroom, my own private bathroom and a home cooked meal was waiting at her house. “We have so much to catch up on!” “Wow, what a great house. It’s perfect for you.” “It’s been 5 years?! My god. How did that happen?” Wine and chit chat carried us late into the evening, years of stories bursting to get out, so many questions and stories. Point 1: Girlfriends are for life.
Over the next few days I confirmed my social schedule, briefly heard from my husband, and spent hours catching up with my first host. She told me if I didn’t want to keep moving around I could just stay at her house. That was a great solution for me because she lives so close to public transportation and many other friends. Perfect!
On Monday after arriving, I jumped into action on the business my husband I were building. The plan was for me to keep certain aspects running smoothly, especially while he was working on some other endeavors. Working away, checking on communications, updating spreadsheets….. That’s when the shoe dropped. And then the other shoe dropped. And my whole world fell out from underneath me. I say my whole world because at that moment, my husband was my whole world and he stole everything. I stayed in the denial phase for those next two weeks. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe it; I didn’t want to tell my friends because then it would be the opposite of what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to tell them about my perfect marriage, my travels around the world with the perfect husband, and how lucky I am now after years of the wrong guys. That only worked to an extent. Point 2: Girlfriends know when something is wrong.
The day I came across all the photos was a turning point. Everything gets recorded in today’s world. It’s easy to find evidence. We see it all the time on the news. That doesn’t make it any easier. I broke down. I was crying in the kitchen trying to get the words out to my friend. “He’s calling her his future wife,” I eventually articulated. Point 3: Girlfriends always have a shoulder to cry on.
Considering I had $200 to my name thanks to my husband making that significant deposit into my account (please roll eyes here), I quickly realized I would need to go back into taking care of myself mode. Time was up to rely on him to take care of me. His efforts were elsewhere. Wallowing and survival mode mostly complete, I entered into acceptance rather quickly, determined to fix my broken world. After all, he’s not really my whole world. I decided sitting around thinking about all the anger induced evil plans I had was probably not going to get more money in my bank account. Upon telling my nearest and dearest friends what was really going on I had a cash gift from one girlfriend, a reference for any job I applied for from another, a Starbucks gift card from another, immeasurable support of my plans (both evil and sensible) from all, and most importantly a home and food for as long as I needed it from the first friend that took me in when I arrived. Point 4: Girlfriends will do anything they can do to help.
Some brainstorming and self-reflection was in order. It hit me. Last year I started a passionate journey with my husband around health. He had plans, good plans, that he abandoned (typical is what I say now with my fancy 20/20 hindsight). What if I took that plan, made it my own and worked on it for years? It could make money eventually but what I really loved about it was I would leave a legacy. It’s a term we heard more than once while traveling. People from different countries had told us “You have to write this down. It’s your legacy.” They were talking about our travels and adventures but it stuck in my head that once you put it down on paper (yeah, I still write on paper) and publish that in some form, it’s legacy. Granted, parts of our story are his alone because the journey took us down discovery trails into his family history that are not mine to share. However, we have stories, so many great stories! We even came up with more ideas for stories that we agreed should be written. So it’s decided, I will write! I will write about the health parts and I will write about the adventures and I’ll write those children’s books I’ve always wanted to write. I might not be good and I don’t care. The stories might not matter to anyone else. I don’t care! Just write and share it with the world because maybe someday it will be relevant or even better, what if I discover something incredibly valuable during the journey?
Sensibility dictated that I would need actual income that would not come from writing in the next 6 months, or 6 years for all I know, so out came the resume and my determination. It was great. I had purpose every day. Look for work. Write. Look for work. Write. I used the cash to replenish my waning supply of basic necessities and a new hairdo. I got back into my exercise routines that had become so difficult to maintain while traveling around the world non-stop without a home (that’s probably an entire book on its own!). I found more friends by combing Facebook. I was feeling great! My friends were loving my ambition and positive attitude. They took me out, gave me positive reinforcement, listened to everything I needed to get off my chest, and continued to financially support me. Point 5: Girlfriends support every idea and goal regardless.
Eventually I got the first job I applied for. I literally started my cover letter “Wow! I feel like I was meant to see this job posting today,” because that’s how I felt when I read the job description. It was a perfect blend of my skills and sounded like someone who would value me. I was right. It took a month for it to all come together but it is perfect. As I was picking up side work and working on my writing via the blog that started last year, I enjoyed the company of my girlfriends. Most of these friendships are 2 decades old, while others are just within the past few years or even months. What I discovered is these women are all the same. I don’t mean age or looks or career, nothing like that. I mean that every one of these wonderful, beautiful women that I get to call my friend is a nurturing, empathetic, caring soul. Point 6: Girlfriends accept each other as they are.
Women don’t see boundaries. We have a universal, mutual understanding of each other. No differences enter into our minds. We don’t see religion, culture, language, age, race or any other differences as something that must be overcome. We only see a woman in need of help and support and love. Any woman who is hurting or needs help can count on another woman finding and helping her. We believe in strength in numbers. We are better together. It fills our soul with joy to help our girlfriends. That’s what I have now.
If you are ever in a place where you need help, there will be a woman that will show up in your life and help you.