Yesterday night, I met up with Elizabeth at the college auditorium to hear Naomi Wolf speak about her latest book. Even tough I do not consider my self a first wave feminist like Elizabeth is, or like Naomi Wolf was at some point, I do agree with mostly all of modern feminist theory and with what it has to say about our gender.
So, I guess am a feminist. Not only that, but I’ve also been made a member of the Feminist Union at college, courtesy of my friend Liz, who is the president of the club. There is more: I also like women, which makes me even more of a feminist, and I love having friends that are women, which makes me distrust girls who only have male friends. And I happen to believe that men would stereotype and mock at our gender way less, if we females could be nicer to each other, and learn how to be friends. But this entry isn’t directly about feminism; it is about friendships between women and about my relationship with Elizabeth (probably; another really gay entry, but there it goes…)
Liz is my best friend in Charlotte and one of the few people I know who has managed to utilize all the feminist theory we have been reading in those Women’s Studies classes, and bring it to the practice. I met her one night at a local bar called The Penguin; and I remember how the first thing she ever said to me was “I love your hair,” and the last thing: “you should come to my place tomorrow.” Two weeks later, I was driving to Ashville with her to see Cat Power play. Three weeks later she made me a mixed CD with the title “My Love will set you on Fire,” and by summer, we were best friends. Liz has shiny red hair and blue eyes covered up by her bangs, she does not shave her armpits and I have never heard her complain about her body. She enjoys having one night stands, and she is smart. She has a hidden geeky side, and she is very difficult to figure out. She can talk without stopping, and she can stay in silence for hours. She is strong, she is temperamental, and she is my friend.
It was Liz who got me drunk with raspberry liquor one night, and dragged me to the “Red Door” in Charlotte, just to buy me my first vibrator as a birthday present. I remember picking it out because it was purple and had sparkles on it, not even sure how it worked. She is also the one who urged me to get out of my tomboyish cowgirl shirts and stop covering my body all the time: “Carolina, you are a beautiful young woman, now, try on this skirt, I promise it will look good on you!” and she was the one I always went to when I needed advice on men: “Liz?” I would ask her while eating popcorn in front of the TV, “How do you give a hand job to a guy?” and she would laugh at my ignorance first, but then would answer: “Aw, that’s EASY!” and go on to explain things step by step, using an empty bottle or a banana as a reference, while her other roommates stared at us in confusion.
Liz is also one of the few people whom I can talk about Art with, because she knows about colors and palettes, and about hundreds of contemporary artists I have no clue about. She is also someone I can lend my books to and someone I can steal books from, which means that she is somebody I can share my geeky literature obsessions with. I mentioned how she has red long hair but I forgot to mention how sometimes she leaves parts of it blond and how she always does my eye-make up whenever we go out. She tends to go for tall, skinny guys, and once chased Adrian Brody through NYC, but can also admire Woody Allen for his wit. She collects pictures and items with owls and likes to cut out magazines to make collages. She took care of me when I just moved to N.C from Connecticut, and when I was lonely and extremely broke in Charlotte, and I still do the same for her whenever she drinks too much and starts wondering about the meaning of life.
One night after I had smoked too much weed and was feeling extremely melancholic, I dialed her number at three in the morning, crying,as I blurted out: “Liz, PLEASE, NEVER LEAVE ME, YOU ARE THE ONLY THING I HAVE,” which was followed by a sleepy response on her side of the line: “Carolina, it is fine, everything is alright, you just smoked too much. YOU ARE FINE. I will not leave you. I promise,” which was enough to calm me down, and get me to gulp down a few pairs of aspirins with water, and fall asleep. Another night I stayed over at her place and we talked for so long that the sun started rising: We ended eating pancakes at the nearest dinner, while the blackbirds kept singing on the telephone wires.
But this entry is also about our unexpected separation, which began last summer when we took a road trip to Greensboro for a vacation…and I met a guy. This implicitly means that I betrayed her. It did not happen on purpose, I promise, but heading back to Charlotte with her, after the road trip and after my newest infatuation, things were already changing. When fall arrived, I had a boyfriend, and she was starting to explore relationships with women. When winter arrived, I started ditching her to spend more Saturdays watching movies with him, while she stayed out meeting new people without me. The summer had ended and, along with it, the exodus of a beautiful friendship. Even though we still share a strong bond, nothing compares to the amazement we both experienced in the beginning. Because a new friendship feels like the spell of a new Love, only that it does not carry all the expectations found in a male-female relationship. Like with any good partner, Elizabeth and I had influenced each other, learnt from each other, and we had both been transformed, which is what any great friendship, and any good relationship should be able to do: To be the ax that cuts into the frozen sea.
This is just to say that we hung out last night, after the Naomi Wolf conference. Liz had her hair up, and chunks of it were covering the sides of her face. She was wearing lip gloss and a red, polka dotted vest. We stole chocolate covered strawberries from the reception and ate them at the table in the far corner. We acted like twins who had been separated at birth and she introduced me as “her best friend” while I did the same with her. But on our way to the parking lot, she brought up another subject, “Guess what I ended up doing last Saturday because you weren’t with me Carolina?” I knew that something was coming, because ever since I have started hanging out more with my boyfriend (my other best friend of the second sex), she has implicitly brought up the fact that I have abandoned her, on many opportunities. “What?” I decided to risk it. “I ended up hanging out with my roommate Cathy and her redneck friends, at some redneck bar” she answered, “and because I was so bored, I started drinking, by myself. I drank so much that I ended throwing up inside the bathroom.” I laughed and nagged at her, but then, as we arrived towards her car, she had something more to say, almost in a whisper: “You should have been there with me.”
There, she had done it again; she had given me an unexpected guilt trip, and even though I was a little thrown off by her remark, I knew she was right. Because even though one admits it or not, at some point you end up making a list of priorities in your life. When you are single, they go like this: your best friend, school, work, going out, and guys. But when you happen to fall for someone, they change into: your boyfriend, school, work, and your best friend. And as much as I hate to admit this; I had made a list too, and Liz realized her place on the list way before I did, and she pointed it out to me like if I had broken a pact.
So this is why I just had to redeem myself over here, by writing about Elizabeth and about that other type of love one finds in friendships only: The fresh one, the one that does not carry all the fears and expectations; and all the consequences of a romantic relationship. I had to write about a friendship growing apart so that I do not make this mistake again. I had to write about the type of love we sometimes ignore, the one we leave out, the one we unintentionally leave behind, the amazing path traced by friendships which is also the road less traveled.