GRIZZLY LADIES: MAKING FRIENDS AND CLIMBING MOUNTAINS
KATIE FRITZ | November 28, 2016
I met my best friend Rosie* in university, and we didn’t hit it off. Rosie was independent and confident, and I couldn’t handle that level of self-assuredness. In anyone. It was 2008. I was in the earliest phase of my feminist awakening, during which I would realize later that women – the species – are amazing and not inherently a threat that scoops up all the eligible dudes that I could procreate with / hang my self-worth on (#thepatriarchy). I categorized her as “too cool for me,” which to my thinking was both her fault and mine.
But a few years later we realized that we lived on the same street. And nothing conquers self-imposed blocks quite like moving to a new city and realizing how hard it is to make friends as an adult. School had created a common denominator. Within its framework of general proximity and course-schedules I met some of my closest pals. But graduation interrupted our tight orbit and threw us wailing back toward our respective hometowns. We realized that while our bonds were real, the stage upon which they had been forged was hypothetical, and very suddenly over. The friends I did make in those first few years out of school were slow to develop because it embarrassed me to pursue them. To me, forging such friendships seemed more intimate than dating. Before actually meeting up in the university-course world, Rosie and I circled each other online–a like here, a comment there–like we were tier-two Tinder interested.
Is it hard to make friends because you can’t really flirt? I didn’t find meeting men that hard, but women scared me. Maybe it’s because flirting is a kind of armour: presenting your flaws with a healthy dollop of glib winks and edited charm. Making friends demands a level of earnestness that is much more raw. It demands a tenderness that you nurture with continued beers and hangs, and eventually late night chat sessions, and then supplementing the time you aren’t able to physically chill with phone calls. After a few months of promising (online! “We gotta hang out!” Online promises are garbage) to get together, Mickey and I met up at Don’t Argue pizzeria and our beautiful friendship was born. We watered it with more beers and bike rides, counseled each other through break-ups and (a lot of) professional ennui, and we agreed that a best friend is a tier–not a person. Mindy Kaling said that. I wish I could take the credit.
Meeting Rosie also solidified a growing impression I had of myself. Or more accurately, of the impression I wanted to give: a wholly independent woman. I mean beyond managing my Visa statement and foraying into pet ownership. I was interested in a slew of activities that required a lot of planning, research, and actual skill-building. Multi-day treks, for example. Lighting fires with wet wood. Skinny dipping everywhere! Foraging for mushrooms. Rosie and I both suddenly had a keen friend with like-interests, and the experience to match. Our experience being “done it a few times with various male counterparts, very enthusiastic, not very confident.”
But experience is less important than wanting to learn. We’re both “leap” people. Grizzly Ladies are real trips that we take in an effort to emancipate ourselves. When the only person to watch us fuck up and maybe stress-cry is the other, we’re safe to figure things out in our own time. And we get to actually figure things out as opposed to outsource to our boyfriends or dude-friends. It’s the best way to learn.
So I hope you’ll stick with us as we figure this out. We are three years deep into our friendship, and still trying to decide who we are and what we like about ourselves. Still trying to develop into the images of the women we want to be, and realizing more and more that the things we love about the other are things we want to love about ourselves. Upcoming Grizzly topics will include favorite treks, how to buy gear without going broke, camp meal recipes, where to buy illegal fireworks (psych? Mailing list. Subscribe!) and stories about taking hallucinogens and touching a glacier. Including but not limited to. Come with, it’s all judgement-free.
*not her real name.