Aside from some cousins who live in another city, I have no blood relations. Both my parents died by the time I was twenty-three and I was also an only child. I have to admit that when I see friends who are struggling to care for aging parents, while still struggling to care for themselves, I can’t help but believe there’s a lot to be said for being an orphan. Except for a brief time with a live-in boyfriend in my twenties, I have always been single, preferring the company of cats and dogs with their complete indifference to my rather lax attitude toward housework. The single life just suits me. Plus, I’m pretty cranky.
This does not, however, mean that I am anti-social or a recluse. Far from it. Throughout the years, I’ve created little pockets of friends wherever I’ve lived and organized them into loving, supportive family tribes. I have friendships that go back forty years and some longer, people who I am not obligated to love and who are not obligated to love me, but somehow the love is there and I believe sometimes even stronger than blood because it has been created out of choice.
We enjoy such rituals as monthly Margarita Night where we all take turns hosting the gathering with guest of honor, José Cuervo. It’s always a fun group of interesting and diverse women, mostly linked through our mutual love of tequila and horses. We’re bonded by the fact that no matter how many times we get bucked off, we will rise to ride again, despite how crazy our doctors think we are. They all totally understand when I say my dying wish will be that my carcass be tossed into the landfill with those of my departed, beloved steeds. I know that sounds creepy to normal people, but anyone who reads my work with any regularity knows by now that I regard normalcy as vastly overrated.
Another of my tribes, affectionately known as “The Usual Suspects,” has gathered to celebrate each other’s birthdays every year since 1996. There are seven of us in this group and, on occasion, we allow their hubbies to join in the festivities. I often hear single women talk about how they are excluded from the activities of their married friends and feel like married women regard them as a threat. I guess I’m fortunate in that no one regards me that way. Or maybe I should be insulted. At any rate, it’s never been an issue.
At Christmas, I always have a tree-trimming party with about twenty guests, the main course being an awesome tomato-bisque soup made especially for me by a local restaurant. My friends know I don’t cook and don’t expect that to change. My friends also know I can sometimes appear to have Tourette’s Syndrome in that I seldom stop to edit my opinions before letting them rip. They don’t expect that to change either. They accept me warts and all and I them, because that’s what friends do.
Over the years, we’ve shared bad times as well as moments of great joy. We’ve encouraged each other’s endeavors and commiserated over disappointments. As we get older, I suspect we will come to appreciate and rely on our friendship even more. I will likely not be the only single one in the years to come and I sometimes worry about how my friends will adapt to being on their own. Fortunately, our friendship guarantees that none of us will ever be alone.
That cliché that goes, “if you want to make a friend you have to be a friend” is sucky, but true. I cannot imagine my life without these smart, funny, raunchy, loving bunch of kick-ass great people and I can only guess I must’ve done something right to have deserved them.