WE ARE CELEBRATING FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS WITH A SERIES OF STORIES AND WE’D LIKE YOU TO TAKE PART … DO YOU HAVE A FEMALE FRIEND WHO HAS KEPT YOU AFLOAT THIS PAST YEAR, OR ONE YOU HAVE MISSED AND LONG TO SEE WHEN LOCKDOWN ENDS? …
Where would we be without our female friends? The friends who have supported us through lockdown, made us laugh, shared our sadness and our joy, been there for us at the toughest of times, in person or at a distance.
If ever there was a time for the consolations of female friendship, it’s now. Not so much a shoulder to cry on (although sometimes that too) as an arm to lean on, a hand to squeeze, a sympathetic ear. Such is the nature of this particularly fraught and endless phase of this pandemic that nothing is quite so out of reach.
But soon we can really enjoy our friends again … what will we do, what will we talk about?
For the next ten weeks on thegloss.ie, we will celebrate female friendships with a series of stories and we’d like you to take part … Do you have a female friend who has kept you afloat this past year, or one you have missed and long to see when lockdown ends?
Tell us why your friend is fabulous, what makes your friendship work and send us a photograph of you two together. Email [email protected] or share on Instagram, using the hashtag #MyGlossyFriend.
This week, THE GLOSS team share their stories of friendship over the past year – the new bonds they formed, the connections they missed and the important lessons learned along the way …
Sarah Halliwell, Beauty Editor
We saw in the new year of 2020 down by the sea with a crowd of our oldest friends and their teenagers, who have grown up together. It was precious at the time, and all the more so in retrospect, and it’s what I covet more than any holiday or festival. We always knew it, really. But enforced isolation has rammed home the fact that our friendships are everything.
It’s one thing having good friends on a sunny day, or a champagne-filled evening – intoxicating moments are easy to share. But when the outlook is grey and uncertain, it’s another story. This was the year we really discovered which bands of friendship were supple and elastic enough to withstand the strongest wrenching. And while we miss the fun of being in a big group, it’s been those few concrete, water-tight female friendships that have seen us through.
The smallest thoughts and words have brought light and colour, even from a distance. My own friendships have had to be robust since moving to Ireland more than ten years ago – we resort to the lost art of letter-writing, and long-distance bolstering. A text asking if you’re ok; a book arriving unannounced in the post; a (distant) shoulder to cry on. Where once we might have coveted things, now we long for our people. Benches all along the city are filled with people huddled in coats, shiny-haired girls with coffee cups and grey-haired ladies with Thermos flasks, all suffused with the warmth of friendship.
Female friendships can be competitive, and from an early age – my daughter observes how the so-called “popular” girls compete with and criticise each other behind their backs. So once you find true ones, the ones who listen and make you laugh, you hold on to them tight. I feel very lucky to have bedrocks such as Z, sender of funny cards; teen whisperer; font of wise and gentle knowledge; confidante and sounding board. We now walk and talk; I have become one of those people who walk around laughing into their headphones (or else having a little cry into the wind). Saturday morning coffee video chats with three old schoolmates have been highlights – we’ve known each other for nearly 40 years and familiarity breeds both contentment, and honesty. Your friendships might be forged in the feckless days of vodka and nightclubs til dawn, but it’s the core of mighty ones that adapt through careers, parenthood, middle age and beyond that you want to hold tight to.
Síomha Connolly, Digital Editor
“We’re friends!” screamed my two-year-old nephew as he ran around the back garden playing football with his parents and grandparents. My heart simultaneously sank and lifted with the sentiment behind those two words, shouted in joy. So much of his second year has been spent at home with his parents and grandparents for company, his time at play school cut short due to lockdown. His humour has taken on a sense of mischief and awareness beyond his years, that’s what the company of adults will do. But it was more the crux of the feeling that he was trying to convey when he exclaimed, “We’re friends!” What he meant was he was happy, everyone was enjoying themselves, there was laughter and joy, he felt comfortable, safe and loved.
And that at its essence is the type of friendship I have missed over the past year. The comfort you feel when you are gathered around a dinner table with friends talking and laughing for hours on end, or the giddy feeling you get driving on your way to a festival together or in the airport en route to a holiday, even just sitting at home with a cup of tea talking through the day – it’s a collective belonging. It really is the essence of friendship that we crave and miss when we don’t have it. The easy laughter and conversation that comes with decades of friendship; the new inquisitiveness that comes with a blooming friendship; and the sense of security that you feel with only your oldest friends.
Many of my friendships stretch from school years (one for as long as I can remember, we like to say we’ve been friends since we were one) and even if they’ve waned in the intervening years, we always find our way back to each other. I probably haven’t been the best at keeping in touch over the pandemic. A year spent online has taken its toll on us all, sometimes the last thing you want after a day spent starting at screens is to log on again in the evening and try and muster up some enthusiasm for a distanced and stunted conversation. We tried a couple of Friday night Zoom drinks – WiFi issues, dogs barking, children interrupting, we gave up. WhatsApp groups become lively occasionally before simmering out for days on end. What we’ve learned is that really there is no replacement for IRL friendship. The one thing we’ve been denied over the course of this year is the one thing that could have made it a whole lot easier.
But now there’s hope on the horizon. Gatherings (outdoors for now) are becoming a possibility again. We’re planning day trips and weekends away, nights in and dinners out. We’ll meet again, soon, and when we do, I’ll scream “We’re friends!” too.
Penny McCormick, Deputy Editor
School friend. New friend. Former work colleagues. Fellow Ballymaloe alumna. Intrepid travellers all … My loyal band of core friends is spread out from Dublin to Dubai, and from Belfast to Brisbane. Given their geographical coordinates I’ve seen none of them IRL (in real life) and like so many others I’ve been sustained by texts, emails, WhatsApp calls and the occasional Zoom.
Contact has not always been constant – we’ve all had periods of radio silence, going off radar when work and family issues have been overwhelming. However, what I have cherished most is receiving unexpected letters and cards in the post. My friends have become pen pals over the last year. Given my stationery addiction, taking the time to refill my rusty ink pen and get out proper writing paper to respond has been a pleasure.
I doubt they’re reading this, but if they are: Julia, Roisin, Colette, Barbara, Sheena and Catherine: thank you for your friendship (and your cards which I keep on a noticeboard by my desk). I only hope I’ve given as much support as I have received.
Now it’s your turn to share your story. Tell us why your friend is fabulous, what makes your friendship work and send us a photograph of you two together. Email [email protected] or share on Instagram, using the hashtag #MyGlossyFriend.
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