The Bond Girls: True Friendships Are About Being Stirred NOT Shaken

By Lisa Barr

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I turned 50 last week. And if you had asked me about facing that milestone a month ago, you would have seen a totally different me: a woman who was afraid to face THAT number. Fifty sounded grandmother-ish; it also sounded half over (half dead or half alive — your call). And then in consecutive order over the next few weeks, it all changed.

It went down like this: the walk, the concert, the drink  (correction: drinks), the dinner, and the Surprise Party.

Not to ruin the ending but it was all about My Girls, My Peeps, My Sistahs who turned me around.

The Walk: My oldest friend (buddies since fourth grade) and I went for a walk in a prairie near my home. We hadn’t seen each other for a while, life got in the way, and finally are schedules jived. Let me just back up. This is THE GIRL who was there for me when I was sick with Anorexia Nervosa at age 12. I was a popular seventh grader and all of my friends had dropped me out of fear, except for her.  I had lost thirty pounds (off an already slim frame), and nearly died that year. This 12 year old — Rebecca — is the sole reason I am alive today. That Girl Bond as a tween-ager was not just about closeness, it was about seeing outside of yourself — experiencing your friend’s pain and jumping in to be by her side, not abandoning her. I ask myself to this day: “How did a 12-year-old girl know how to mother another girl back to health?” And yet, she knew, this girl, just knew. Within one year, with Rebecca’s love and support, I was back to being a normal eighth grader. I went to camp, had a boyfriend, and went from a deathly 45 pounds to a healthier 80 pounds. Yes, I had intense therapy but nothing came close to helping me through that traumatic time than our Girl Bond. And there we were 40 years later walking the prairie and time passage was irrelevant. I started telling Rebecca about dreading turning 50. She gazed deep into my eyes, and said, “Every year is a privilege, Lisa.” The Girl who somehow knew … still knew.

The Concert: I was sitting in my “reserved” spot in Starbucks, working on Book #2, and struggling. I had taken the summer off the blog to work on my manuscript, and though I have 120 pages in hand, it is still not the finished ‘script I thought I would have with ALL of my freed-up time (What time? Do we Moms EVER have enough time?). In walked a girlfriend. “Hey Lis, I’ve got tickets to see ‘Deacon’ perform in the city this weekend.”

“Deacon?” I stopped typing.

Deacon, Nashville, Deacon? For those who don’t watch the TV series “Nashville” — just skip this section. But for those who do — Deacon is the sizzling hot singer/songwriter/love interest of Rayna James (aka: actress Connie Britton). He’s also a sexy, recovering alcoholic who is never really recovering, always stumbling … but ahhh … every woman I know who watches the show, watches for Deacon. I’m SO IN, I said.

So there we were a few days later, four good friends — one just-turned 50, two 49-ers, one 45 — having the time of our lives. I looked at these women and thought: Fabulous. They are friggin’ fabulous. If this is looking at 50 — then these women are way hotter, way stronger, way smarter than back in our younger days. At this age, we women have come into our own, feet on the ground, FINALLY knowing who we are, what we really want. I left the night laughing, and I woke up the next morning still smiling. The night was not about meeting guys, because we have our guys, our full lives. Yes, we could go gaga over Deacon, but in real life he’s married with three kids too. Rather, it was an ageless, timeless bubble of girlfriend-ness. I was turning 50, but that night I could have been in high school, in my 20s, my 30s … it was, as my yoga-crazed friend would say, all about connecting to my core. I was reminded that at almost 50, I still got it, and so do my girls. And being ME with them felt fun, light and timeless.

Fifty was no longer looking like a number, rather a ‘Hell Yeah’ Destination.

The Drink (s):  It was one of those first back-to-school DAZE. The brutal realization that summer is REALLY over and forms, schedules, carpools, appointments, and demands had crash-landed, drowning me like a Suburban Tsunami. I desperately needed a Cabernet, a massage, a hug, a Thelma & Louise moment (yes, misery needs company). The text came in from one of My Girls: Shitty day. Drinks anyone? This was followed by three others’ “Me 2” texts, and everyone’s one-liner complaints. No judgment, because we all got it. School had begun, the pitbulls were let out of the cage. It was back to Suburban Survival time. IN. IN. IN. (the fourth girlfriend couldn’t make it for drinks but stayed in the conversation via text throughout the evening). It was only an hour or two but we all had our mini-bitch session release, and then the laughter flowed. The day turned around not because anything had changed, but because we knew that we were in it together, and appreciated the fact that we had a place to go, a place to put it all.

Girl Bonding: We may be stirred, but damn, TOGETHER, we are not shaken.

The Dinner: I glanced at my watch and thought: One half hour until I meet my GIRLilla Girls. And there they were, waiting at the restaurant, a pre-blog relaunch dinner. We all showed up — one younger Mama with the under-junior high kids, me with the three teenage girls, another with all her kiddies in and out of college, another with two launched and one still in high school, and another with a good mix of everything. We laughed, we shared the deeper stuff, caught up on summers, talked blogs — the ones we were going to write and the ones that we simply couldn’t because our families would kill us. I looked at them, my beautiful bloggers and thought: If this is turning 50, I’m so fortunate to have created a “blogosphere” where women can be women — vulnerable and strong, sexy and smart, catty and caring, laughing and loving. These women are truly a composite of all of us — same boat, different rowers, but all traversing calm and troubled waters, knowing that in the end … hell or high water, we will get to that shore. We wined, we dined, we group-hugged, and I left that night feeling very full.

The Surprise Party:  One husband and three daughters had this special night planned and in the “vault.”  Yes, there were rumblings and slippages along the way, but no one can prepare you for the shock of over 100-plus people whom you love celebrating you … friends and family came in from out of town. My husband, who cannot multi-task for the life of him, multi-tasked like a Mom with quintuplets. This guy — my guy — did it up big-time. My birthday was my dream bash– Studio 54 themed — a full-on disco with an amazing ’70s cover band. The moment of moments arrived when my husband and my kids gave me the most beautiful speeches. I held onto my heart just to make sure it would not fall out of my body. And then the Big Mo came, when I (a woman who has always hid behind a byline) got up and sang and strutted with the band (Nearly 50 years of practicing in the shower had come full circle). And there it was, the epiphany: “At this point in my life, why not and who cares?”

Those things that have bogged me down had suddenly, magically lifted.

It was my time now to really be free. Not to talk it, but to live it.

From the stage while I was “performing” Donna Summer’s “Bad Girls” followed by Sister Sledge’s “We Are Family”, I looked out from the stage at all the beaming, loving faces that have decorated my life, rested my gaze upon My Girls from all walks of my life, and I thought: “Damn glad to meet you 50. I’ve got All My Sistahs With Me.”


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