I’ve written about her before. She’s always the hero in my story. I am the Gayle to her Oprah or she’s the Gayle to my Oprah. We rarely fight other than over who gets to be Oprah and who plays Gayle in our own story.
I went to see Oprah a few days into 2020. Back when 2020 was shiny and new and going to be the start of not just a new year, but a decade of transformation. Has it ever been! Just not in the way any of us envisioned.
Oprah was talking about the secret to her and Gayle’s friendship and she said they are always genuinely happy for one another, there is always honesty even when it’s ugly and they want the absolute best for one another.
It sounds simple, but if we are honest that’s a pretty tall order. It’s not always easy when you are struggling and the other person is soaring to not hurl pebbles to try and knock them off course. It’s not easy to be the one left on the ground while the other one finds their wings.
I was talking with another friend the other night about how hard the twenties can be. Entry-level jobs that require very little brainpower but extremely long hours of mundane tasks, pretending you have it figured out, posing and posturing all while making boozy ill-formed decisions. The existential angst, the constant shame spirals, and the feeling of being utterly alone plagued a lot of us in our twenties.
Hmm...did the twenties have a comeback?
Is 2020 the reincarnation of that floundering period between childhood and adulthood? Lots of missteps and mistake-making as we find our way out of angst, worry, and loneliness into a more full and vibrant future?
Maybe it is.
Which is unfortunate.
In the small non-scientific poll I took the consensus is no one I know wants to relive their twenties.
They were as my daughter would say, CRINGE.
We are in another time of Cringe. Everything is uncomfortable, hard to navigate, and that feeling that you are sailing off into unchartered waters in a rowboat without a paddle has returned.
In my twenties, I often felt like my friends were in powerboats or ocean liners sailing off into the sunset while I just bailed water out of my dingy and did my best to stay afloat.
My lifeline throughout was a preppy northerner who could fix anything with her glue gun. A bundle of energy who wore pearls and wielded power tools. Always, my champion she made me fairy wings out of pantyhose and copious amounts of glitter, pulled out her toolbelt when I insisted we build a Tikki bar one semester, put up with my refusal to ever figure out the dinner check since I don’t do math and dragged me to every cathedral in Europe one summer. She lit candles and said prayers while I flipped through the guide book looking for the next pub.
Never big on catholicism I half-heartedly indulged the cathedral obsession. But I came to embrace her devotion during one flight in Belize on a particularly small airplane when I heard a voice from the cockpit say over the intercom “you are our pilot? Weren’t you at Jaguars with us last night.” Realizing that the pilot was the one passing out tequila shots a few hours earlier, I promptly converted and told her “to do her thing.” Otherwise known as making the sign of the cross as we held hands and prayed.
Over the last twenty years, she has been a guide, a shoulder, and a pillar of strength for me. As I watched her soar I was never tempted to hurl pebbles. She always waited for me to catch up.
As we sit suspended in 2020, it no longer feels shiny and new. It seems relentless, endless, and tiresome. It feels like we are floundering as a nation, as a society, as a planet. One of the shining lights and beacons of hope, when my path felt so uncertain, was friendship. Twenty years later it's still a balm for my soul. Perhaps twenty twenty is not so subtly reminding us that connection and love are the way forward.
I agree with my informal poll. The twenties are best left in the past.
To navigate this new set of 20’s it’s going to take fortitude, strength, laughter, and connection to friends who lift you up, inspire you, and will hold your hand and “do their thing” as you soar off into the unknown.
Happy Birthday, G! Love, O. I'm playing her today. :)