May 5, 2008

Better than Ice Cream

This past weekend, we had a very good friend visiting from the Bay Area. We played so hard (the Art Institute, Hemingway’s birthplace, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home, excellent beer at the Hopleaf, and a frighteningly awesome flight on a 1979, four-person, Cessna, over Michigan City) that we pooped out Sunday evening.

But the very best part was spending time with our friend, and it got me thinking. Friend is such a marshmallow word: fluffy, sugar-sweet, and empty. The word just doesn’t have the right connotation linked with it. Camaraderie is a bit better, but still doesn’t quit fit what I want it to mean. I bet there’s a fantastic German word for it. Something like: “betterthanicecreamperson” or “firstcallImakewhenIamintrouble” or “shehasgotmyback.”

This is really what “Cast the First Stone” is about. Deep down, past the literary descriptions and universal themes (poverty, that in-between place of adolescence, and finding God), this story is about that distinct, uncommon, hard-to-find connection between two individuals.

I consider myself pretty lucky to have the kind of friends that are not seen in most popular media. The chic-lit friendships in so many books and television shows are composed of spiteful, back-stabbing, flat, and/or solitary characters that wouldn’t lift a manicured finger to help their supposed friend. I see the kind of “friendship” that I’m talking about mostly depicted by guys: men in combat, brothers, teammates, school chums. This is true, it seems, in a lot of coming-of-age stories as well.

I wanted a story that was true to the type of friendship (there’s that word again) that I’ve experienced: tried and true, loyal and feisty, tough as nails friendship. To this day, it’s these resilient relationships (through many are miles and miles away) from which I draw my creative muscle, my tenacity, and my faith.

P. S. Thanks for the amazing weekend, Maggie-D!


Lizzie said...

This is such an insightful post, Gwen. I agree with you that women are often not depicted as tough, capable, loyal friends, but these are the kinds of women who are my friends, women who would do anything for me and who I would do anything for. women who are stronger than they look. women who aren't interested in being bitchy or backstabbing. you are definitely the betterthanicecream, shesgotmyback variety.

Okie said...

I want to be a woman.

Endearing post.

Sideshow said...

Hooray for shedding a light on those of us who value "true friendship."

Anonymous said...

Good friends are had to come by. I definitely found best friends in you and David.
Maggie D