A Few Ruminations on “The Girls from Ames”

Recently I was able to switch gears and put down the Dr Seuss library in favor of a book aimed at my demographic.  Yang Daddy was gracious enough to continue the rhyming with our tot while I dug into an “adult” book all about a special group of women and their friendships.

The Girls from Ames, by Jeffrey Zaslow, is a biography of sorts of 11 women who have been friends since childhood through to present day; they are now in their mid-forties.  Some of the women have been friends since toddlerhood, others since elementary or middle school.  Each woman appears to have one strong bond with another woman, a “best friend” in the group if you will, and then all these best friends are also close to each other.  As the author reflects, “they were (are) their own little clique.”

The story of their continuing friendship was amazing to read, mainly in part because it’s true and not a work of fiction.  Plus, it was interesting to read their story as written by a male journalist, and not by one of the Girls.  Through extensive research and many interviews, Zaslow has pulled together an intriguing and complex portrait of their friendship over the years.  In fact, it seems as if I, the reader, were sitting down at the reunion dinner table with them, listening to their stories and anecdotes.

As I read The Girls from Ames, I imagined what kind of friendships my own daughter would form.  Would the young children she plays with now be around in another year, 10 years, or even 20 years?   One can only wonder.  The book also caused me to reflect on my own friendships, which at times during my read, either brought me great joy for those bonds that have remained strong and good, or some sadness and regret for those friends that have parted ways.  And more so, the book struck home to me that it is indeed, a lot of work to keep a good friendship going.

People in America today are busier than ever and distractions abound, from texts and IMs to just keeping house and getting the family hither and yon.  It isn’t easy to always make time to catch up with a friend, whether that’s picking up the phone or dashing off a quick note (email).  Sometimes I wish I could just communicate with them telepathically while I juggle all my other tasks! I have friends I chat with on a daily basis and others with whom I only catch up with every few months, maybe even once a year.  And although I wish we’d all keep in touch more, and be larger parts of each other’s lives, those times that we do connect feel as if we’ve never stopped hanging out.  (And TG for social media sites too, but their impact on friendships is an entire other story!)

Over the years, I’ve come to the conclusion that making friends is easier than maintaining them.  I attribute it both to the stage of life myself and my friends now inhabit as well as it just being a by-product of the culture I live in. Today, having a to-do list a mile long is envious and to some, even seen as prosperous  (but if you look at some of these schedules, I’d say “preposterous” is more like it) as opposed to only desiring the Jones’ green lawn a few decades ago.  But these Iowa friends have pulled it off, maintaining and growing their relationships over the years, giving and taking through the good and the bad times.  It takes work; but anything that’s worth its salt takes work, right?

The Girls from Ames is a delightful read and one in which you can percolate on and ruminate about later.  While having that many close friends may be more extraordinary than ordinary, we can definitely learn from these Iowa girls that it pays off in the end.

So with that, I’m off to the store to get a box of notecards and pen a few personal notes to my own circle of friends.  Or at least, dash off a few email missives!


2 responses to this post.

  1. You are so right about the difficulty of balancing everything in modern life. And it doesn’t get any easier after publishing, trust me! But it’s good to have a reminder to keep trying. 🙂


    • Posted by yangmommy on July 3, 2010 at 10:27 pm

      One would hope that with all the modern conveinences we now have, life would get easier; alas, I think we just find more things to do!
      Thanks for dropping by and here’s to stopping to smell the roses 🙂


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