I am going to London for three days starting September 17, and that is a miracle. It’s for no reason other than that I want to, and without any intention “to get better” or learn anything or make a contribution or be a more evolved person.
I had been thinking about it for a month or two when Nancy, Alice-Lyle and Carol and I were driving to dinner during the retreat. I mentioned that Mark Rylance, one of my favorite actors of all time, was in a play that only ran until October 7 and that I really wanted to go. I had a bunch of miles, which would cut a last-minute airfare in half. Nancy said, “You absolutely should go,” and that’s all I needed.
It instantly became clear that Nancy fell into the Good Girlfriend category, Good Girlfriends being those who encourage you to do what you really want to do even when you express reservations. Maybe especially when you express reservations. (Hello! Why else would you bother to say those out loud?)
This distinction emerged when I was at a crafts fair years ago on my own and noticed two other women in an artisan’s booth with me. One of the women and I were looking at gorgeous notebooks with a uniquely Italian style of flowing, decorative paper. The second woman was looking bored.
The first woman, clutching a notebook, said to her friend, “I really like this.” The other woman just shrugged. The first woman said, “I probably shouldn’t. I mean, what would I use it for?”
“Then don’t,” the other said. “Are you done?” The woman put the notebook back on the table but kept her hand on it. She looked so sad it broke my heart. How many other times had she talked herself out of what she really wanted?
I turned to the woman and said, “These are beautiful—and so unique. I’ve never seen anything like them before. You should get one.”
“I could use it to take minutes at board meetings,” she said, brightening. “You don’t think it would stand out? Maybe it’s too colorful for business.”
I continued to make up why it was perfect and why the color was part of what made it perfect, etc., etc., until she bought it. I got in that moment that I was fulfilling the role the other woman, the girlfriend who was being a BAD girlfriend, was supposed to play.
We all need Good Girlfriends from time to time. And no, they don’t have to be girls, but they frequently are.
When I bought my Rylance ticket online, I saw that the name of his play was “Semmelweis,” the Hungarian doctor who’s a hero of mine, so that was A Sign that I was doing the right thing. And I’m also finally getting to see “Tina!” which I missed in New York.
Thank you, Nancy, for being such a good Good Girlfriend.