I just returned from my yearly trek to Santa Fe to visit old friends. After living there 13 years, I was lucky to amass a lot of them and what a varied bunch they are! There is something about Santa Fe that attracts people a little off the grid. It is not your average American town, not by a long shot. I landed in Santa Fe at age 50, and the women who befriended me there had a powerful impact on my changing life.
“Standing at the end of the road, boys, waiting for my new friends to come…cause you got to have friends.” Bette Midler
And come they did. After my divorce, some went and were replaced by new friends.
My girlfriends have always been a priority. But since I passed that magic age number and entered Menopause Land, my female friendships became deeper and more intimate. We talk frankly about things we never thought of in our more frivolous, younger years: loss of libido, hot flashes, the great hormone debate. We talk about affairs, divorce, depression. Facelifts, jowls, wrinkles. Arthritis, constipation, hip replacements. The disappointments and joys of our grown children, becoming grandparents. The challenges and loss of aging parents, dementia, Alzheimers, heart attacks. Financial reversals, financial windfalls, loss of jobs, new career choices. Terminal illness and widowhood. Living alone, traveling alone, dating again after decades. Sex with a new partner(EEK!) So many things we hadn’t foreseen, or wanted to, as younger women.
The beauty of friends after 50 is the leveling commonality of facing aging together with empathy and humor. It is a time of great supportiveness, compassion and understanding, of shared sisterhood, deeper and more significant than earlier fleeting, sometimes competitive friendships.
Making new friends in older age can be difficult. When I moved away from Santa Fe to Connecticut, I felt adrift and alone without my friends. Phone calls and emails were my lifeline. I was once again “waiting for my new friends to come”. And I had to make an effort to find them, women who I could once again open my heart and my life to, friends to love and support. You never know where they will come from: walking my new dog, Barnaby, was a pathway to new friends. Sitting on the plane home last week, 3 hours of animated conversation scored me a new friend. And a circuitous route through LinkedIn brought me back a friend I lost touch with 40 years ago!
New connections keep coming and I am so grateful for them. I know this is not my last stop on my long and winding road. When my husband retires, we will locate somewhere a little less frenetic and, the deal breaker, nowhere near I-95! And we will not be waiting for our new friends to come. We will be immersing ourselves in a new life and we will find them; those connections so important, so enriching to us both.
“But you got to have friends, the feeling’s oh so strong.”……… Bette Midler
The friends I make will continue to grow in number and importance. As I grow older, I don’t want to waste time on casual acquaintances; I want women I can talk to!! Those from high school and college, from my early child rearing years, from my time in Philadelphia, Chicago, Santa Fe and Stamford; my dear cousins, nieces, sister in law and step-daughter; the two young women who have captured my son’s hearts, friends who are older and those as young as my children; they all bring something to my table.
To all of you, the friends of a lifetime,
“Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend!” Carole King
*Apologies to those not pictured! I couldn’t get you all in.