From the first day of my freshman year of college, things began to change. I made a lot of girlfriends, but three in particular who, 15 years later, still make up most of my innermost circle. Making friends has never been as easy as it was then, when we were all the same age, all facing similar issues and living down the hall from each other.
Let me just say, I am capable of socializing and even enjoying it, but I am an introvert. I screen calls from family and friends sometimes for reasons I don't even know. I struggle mightily with small talk. I talk when I'm nervous, instead of listening; I interrupt without meaning to, I replay interactions in my head once I leave-- I fight all of it.
Now we're getting settled. We're in a community group at the church we've plugged into, I'm in a new MOPS group right in my neighborhood, and we're finally getting to know our neighbors. But I had been reluctant to invite anyone in. There are always excuses. Up until the last two weeks, the baby and I hadn't been sleeping. My house isn't renovated. It's not really set up or organized. It's not often as clean as I'd like. I suck at starting conversations. My laundry is piled up. There are always other things I could be doing.
But then I remembered my friends in Tennessee.
Monday I got to welcome women and their children in, some of whom I had met, others I had not. I got to make snacks and fun for their children. I got to provide space and an opportunity for a couple hours of "me too." I got to do all the things the women in Tennessee had done for me-- whether they realized it or not-- and I'm not sure I would have known how if they hadn't shown me.
Now when I hear women say they can't get along with other women, I feel bad for them. To me, it means they haven't experienced the fierce, loyal, openhearted sisterhood that is possible between women. When I feel myself retreating in, hiding behind my door, thinking of reasons why I can't open my heart or my home, or why I can't bear another awkward conversation, I think of the tribe. I think of the group of women who always had room for one more. The women who thought they were just pouring a cup of coffee or just clearing a space on their couch or their calendar, the women who had no idea the difference they were making.
I want to be like them. I'm keeping my door open.