Sunday, December 27, 2015

Influential Lives

 (The above image is merely one example among many..)

Growing up in a neighborhood of rough and tumble boys, I played whiffle ball in the fields of Shaw's Hill and tackle football in my backyard. Forts and tree houses scattered the perimeter of my yard. The only female in the neighborhood for many years was relegated to ironing, sewing and cleaning inside. Outside play limited to a few hours a week.  Meanwhile, the boys and I explored the woods hiking to Hobo Jungle and Indian Cliff. Yet, I longed for something more. Month after month, I hoped that the only other girl nearby would be released from an existence I felt was much like a prison. I longed for a girlfriend close to my age. That came in middle school when six kids moved in across the street. Three boys and three girls. The oldest daughter,  Linda who was three years younger than me quickly became friends. We liked the outdoors, sports and books.  On summer nights, we would fabricate a tent in the backyard and rise early in the morning to large bowls of cereal and whole raw milk fresh from a nearby farm. Quite convincing, Linda talked me into learning how to play the trombone and as a 9th grader I joined an award winning band that traveled the east. Memories of band trips form the basis of good times and lasting friendships in high school. We'd talk long into the nights dreaming about futures. Linda aspired to become a medical doctor while I always wanted to be a teacher. Having a female friend in the neighborhood expanded my definition of myself and curbed my loneliness. 

Presently, as another year ends, I reflect upon the power and strength of my friendships with women. Thinking of each and every one, my heart is full of love and gratitude. There  is a unique bond that I never felt with the neighborhood boys. With them, I was wholly competitive, always having to prove my worth. Through all these years, my girlfriends have accepted me and love me for who I am and I love them unconditionally.  Each helping to shape me into who I am at this moment in time.  I am grateful to have friends-strong women who influence and impact me for the better.

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