Girlfriend time is the best, no matter the activity: hiking, hanging, cocktail time, just about anytime. It’s always a boost to be with girlfriends as the banter flows freely like a good champagne, sweet bubbly and slightly intoxicating.
And the truth is, good girlfriends are the gifts that keep on giving. But, there have been changes in the way we communicate over the years.
One new feature of our friendships after 50, goes way beyond the reliable support we get in terms of great listening, feedback and advice. A great friend now gets bonus points for patience, word retrieval prompts and an ability to laugh with us (not at us), as we try to recall the details of the story we are telling.
The other day I went on a 10 mile walk with 2 friends and over the course of 3 hours we had plenty of time to share stories and frankly, we needed all the time we could get. And here’s how it went…
“What’s your favorite hotel you’ve ever stayed at? You know the most memorable, adventurous or romantic?”
“Oh,” I answered, “I loved that place we stayed at in California. It was a big anniversary and we stayed in tree houses — OMG, what the hell was the name of it?”
“Google, what’s the name of the hotel with tree houses in California?” My friend yelled into her phone, because sometimes Madame Google has wax in her ears. She lovingly knew I needed a life line.
“No, not California, that’s too broad a search, ask her (Mme. Google) about the place where the castle is, I mean near the castle, you know that castle where the family who had a publishing empire lived.”
Oh, oh we all exclaimed in unison. “The Hearst Castle!” We laughed and laughed so proud we had simultaneously jogged that memory forward.
“Google, what’s the name of the hotel with the tree houses in California, near the Hearst Castle?” She asked again. And the list came back.
“No not that one, no not that either, no not that one either. YES, YES. The Post Ranch Inn.”
Even though my friends had never stayed there, they were all so gleeful that we had finally birthed that name. It was a group effort to be sure. We howled laughing at the intense mining we had done to get this story started.
Without skipping a beat they listened to the description of the hotel. And then I attempted to move on to the story of a day trip we took from the Inn to a great retreat. We had gone with our best buddies and I began to tell about how everyone at that place got naked and went into hot tubs….
“What? Everyone got naked? Where is that place, what’s it called?”
“Holy shit,” I exclaimed digging deep into the cavernous black hole of my mind, “I don’t remember but it’s like the Kripalu of the west coast but it has way more hippies. It was a thing in the 60’s, I guess but maybe the 70’s, but this all happened like 15 years ago.”
“Google, what’s the Kripalu of the West that had alot of hippies?” Since Madame Google hasn’t turned 50, never mind 60, she could not follow the line of thinking. There was nothing coming back that resembled the name.
I texted my buddy who I’d gone with. She does alot of New York Times Crosswords which sometimes has the retreat place as a clue, so I knew she’d be all over it.
“Esalon!” Bingo. I was grateful for yet another life line from a very understanding girlfriend.
And then the story took off as I was finally able to relax from the sticky cobwebs that were interfering and free at last from the minutiae of word retrieval. Frankly, the whole experience felt somewhat exhaustingly athletic.
And then we began talking about books.
“I love the new Elena Ferrante,” someone said.
“Me too, I loved it, wait did I read it? What was the name of her first book?” my friend said.
We all started laughing hysterically knowing we were once again caught in a lapsed memory loop with no return
“Yes, yes I’m sure I read it, let me ask Google. Google, what is the name of Elena’s new book and what is it about?”
“Wait, really, that’s what it was about, hmmmm, I’m not sure I read that one now that I think of it,” she confessed.
We were hysterical laughing again.