A Woman's View: Female friendships: 'If tea cups could talk'

Published: Sunday, April 8 2012 5:53 p.m. MDT

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My best friend and I were sitting at Starbucks in our favorite spot on the big leather couch facing the south windows, holding hands with our feet up on the coffee table, sharing our hopes and heartaches, sipping lattes. Joni Mitchell was playing.

This is one of our favorite things to do.

There is a special magic in female friendships, a unique power shared between sisters, no matter where you gather, how long since your last meeting, no matter your age or country of origin.

“I have a couple of really good friends from elementary school, and we have slumber parties,” Suzanne Roskelley shared on “A Woman’s View.” “Even at our age, we have slumber parties because we live in different parts of the world. We stay up all night and talk and help each other with our problems, the same things we did when we were 12.”

As if no time has passed at all, because in most women’s hearts, when they see an old friend, none has.

“We have tea parties,” Lori Henderson said, “and I know tea can be a bad word in our culture, but tea parties were the predecessor to our birthday parties. I read this wonderful book called ‘If Tea Cups Could Talk,’ and I realized it’s not about what you put in the cup. It’s about unhurried conversation and femininity and sisterhood.”

Brilliant.

Unhurried conversation. She’s just captured it. The magical power of female friendship, or any friendship, is unhurried conversation. Shela and I sit at Starbucks and sip $4.91 cups of coffee because that’s where we can sit for as long as we like. Students sit around us staring intently into laptop screens. Other couples come and go. (They are much more hurried.) But we stay. Sometimes we get a second cup. Sometimes we get a piece of cake. Sometimes we just sit and talk, or don’t talk, or cry, or don’t cry.

“Some of our pioneer ancestors had tea parties,” Henderson continued. “Imagine what was important enough to bring those tea cups across the plains. Imagine the conversations.”

I do. I bet they were just like mine and Shela’s. (Well, almost.)

“With Facebook and Twitter, I know exactly what my friends are doing,” Natalie Wardell, the junior member of our panel, offered. “If I need an outfit consult, they’re there. Even though physically they’re not there, they’re right there in my pocket.”

Social networking does change the nature of our friendships, doesn’t it, especially for young people who have not known friendships without its influence. “I try to cheer my friends on,” Wardell offered. “Whatever she’s passionate about, I’m passionate about. If my friend is going to start roller derby, then I’m into roller derby.”

Now, that is thick and thin. I want a friend like that.

Our girlfriends give us so much that our husbands or boyfriends cannot. Which isn’t a bad thing. You wouldn’t want to lean on your husband for everything, would you? I asked my guests on the program to describe what that is.

“Understanding,” Roskelley said immediately. “They will understand what you’re going through.”

Henderson was nodding, “I can be rambling, and they listen with their heart. They hear with their heart.”

“We want to talk about the same thing five times,” Wardell said with a laugh. “We can rehash and talk about things over and over, and we don’t mind.”

We sip. We talk. We listen. We understand. Oh, the gratitude I feel for my girlfriends this day. I am blessed with such quality women in my life: strong, compassionate, loyal, insightful women. If our tea cups could talk, they would inspire the world with courage and laughter, grace and humility.

And just a little bit of Mae West.

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