Following my misty, foggy yet high-yielding sea glass walk on the beach this morning, I considered heading over to the local coffee establishment where I knew that a group of wonderful women would be convening as they (we) do most weekday mornings. On my personal agenda for the rest of the morning and afternoon is to continue my frustrating, overwhelming and exhausting job search and I knew full well that to try to do so without the benefit of caffeine (and camaraderie) was sure to make it even more frustrating, overwhelming and exhausting. Being forward thinking is one of my many skills (did you catch that, oh hiring one?) so I decided to stop by for just a few minutes.
Armed with my coffee (hot, one milk, one sugar) I settled in as the conversation commenced naturally and without pause. Having arrived with another of the regulars (I’m not sure, but I think I might be one myself now) there were now three of us. By the end of the morning, seven other women had joined in, coming and going according to their schedules for the day, some just stopping by to say their hellos, others pulling up a chair.
We are in our 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s. Our children range in age from 18 months to deep into their 30s and everything in between. We are married, divorced, widowed, working full-time, part-time, for ourselves and looking for the right opportunity (note: that last one is me). The daily conversations cover a myriad of topics: children, spouses, victories and failures, concerns, worries, and yes, even politics. While the majority of us are in support of one particular candidate, there is complete respect for others’ opinions. (That being said, I, for one, will be happy when the election and constant barrage of angry banter and rhetoric from both sides just stops and we can all begin to try to pull ourselves together.) There is no dearth of support be it via chuckles, groans, nods or amens. Perhaps most remarkable: not once have I heard anyone talk smack about any other member of the gang ever. I hate to say it, but among groups of women, that, most definitely is not always the case.
Admittedly, some conversations are more lighthearted than others. Most of us are sharers (guilty!) while others are more reserved, but highly engaged nonetheless. Just today we spoke of our confidence levels, our comfort zones and our experience of loneliness. I presented an informal and unscientific poll regarding their thoughts on an issue I am facing in my home. (Not so aside: they all, not knowing on which side I stood regarding the issue, agreed with my concerns. Not gonna lie…I love when that happens.) We talked about honesty and sharing and judging and Dr. Ruth and hospitals and gyms and hair and Facebook and confidence and dogs and Rabbis and dresses and restaurants, too. Sidebar conversations emerged and blended back into group repartee and back again seamlessly. It’s a spontaneous yet well choreographed dance of thoughts, feelings and words unfolding over coffee and (hollowed out) bagels.
As each gal took their leave to attend to out-of-town guests, or put the baby down for a nap or go to work or decide what to wear for the “What to Wear” class they were about to teach or walk the dog or get a flu shot or simply get on with their day, I remained in my seat, still nursing my now completely cold hot, one milk one sugar cup of coffee. Despite saying goodbye with well wishes for the weekend, I hadn’t entirely noticed that the women of our klatsch had all departed and the mid-morning-coffee-break painters, landscapers and retirees had moved in.
Now it was just me and one other woman; a fellow mom, neighbor, congregant, new friend who happens to have grown up in the same town I did but is way younger than I. We sat, just the two of us, and spoke with one another in a raw, supportive, empathetic and generous exchange as though we had been put on this earth to bounce things off one another. By the time we took a breath and looked up, it was 11 a.m. and coffee time was quickly morphing into lunch time. I departed feeling lighter, safer and better understood than I have in a while. I felt connected and welcome and part of a group…something I have been wanting, needing and hoping for, although I didn’t quite know it.
I thank these gals for welcoming me into their fold, for propping me up, allowing my insecurities and sharing theirs. I am fortunate to have found the chutzpah to approach them one day not with the plan to ingratiate myself, but just to say hello. And even more fortunate that they are not only kind, smart and thoughtful but each has an abundant generosity of spirit. It’s beginning to feel a little bit more like home these days…