On the same side
One of my friends was telling me about his former room-mate (also once a classmate) and how they got along really well. He said he’d gotten up early one Sunday to make him a nice breakfast and the maid servant was rather scandalized when she discovered it wasn’t for some girlfriend but for another guy!!! I think it was a nice thing to do, nevertheless. Especially because my best friend once woke up early on Sunday morning to make me breakfast too. And I adored her for it. While we spend sooo much time talking about (and trashing) our relationships with the opposite sex, we rarely ever acknowledge the value of our bonds with people of the same gender.
I have a lot of friends, male and female. I myself spend most of this blog talking about men. But the fact is that there are so many of the wonderful people in my life are women. Some of my dearest friends. I had this great pal back in college. She was different from me…..sort of a complement. Exactly one year older than I was, we even celebrated two of our birthdays together. It felt like she was the ‘other side’ of a Cancerian……the quiet, tender, gentle aspects that I never admitted to publicly, she was while I was the headstrong, no-nonsense, spotlight-loving Cancerian side that she hid. She and I…we were perfect and complete. We’d spend hours and hours on end together. People started to murmur that we were lesbians. I laughed till my sides ached while she looked at everyone else contemptuously and continued our talk. In time we parted ways for reasons I won’t go into, in this post. But it was a very painful parting for both of us. A couple of days later one of my friends came up to me and said, “I wish you’d tell her to stop going around telling people that the two of you have ‘broken up’. That sounds unbelievably sidey.” I didn’t say a thing. To him or to her. That break-up hurt just as much as breaking up with my boyfriend did. Perhaps more.
The lady I call my best friend today probably loves me much more than any man ever did. And I am far more committed to her happiness than to that of any man, at least as of today. If it ever came to it (and I hope it won’t) and I had to choose between her and a man, I’m quite certain I’d pick her. She’s far more important to me than any romantic/sexual partner is ever going to be. I won’t go into the science of why we bond with people of the same sex. Somewhere that kind of friendship, to me, acquires a level of ‘purity’ that friendship with people of the opposite sex can’t have. I’m speaking of course of a completely asexual friendship here…there’s something deep and pure about such a bond. Is it because I’m a woman and supposed to live in the realm of the emotional rather than the physical that I value a 100% emotional relationship above a physical/emotional one? I don’t think so. Men bond too. And in some ways, even better than women do. Allowing for stereotypes, I think most men get along better with each other, irrespective of the nature of their links, than women do.
And yet, it seems like they have even less social sanction to do so than women do. I can still talk about really loving my best friends and being so close to them. I imagine most men would shy away from saying such things even about people they are really very close to. Why, though?