My 39, Day 17.

When it comes to the women with whom I’ve shared the same seasons of life – from negotiating adolescence, college and early career, to balancing the often unspoken and unclear expectations that were part of leaving our families of origin and beginning our own, I feel thankful.

Rare does the day go by without a moment in the present reminding me of a past exchange:

A long and specific voice mail message filled with the kind of inside jokes and raw honesty that only two friends with a no BS policy can appreciate.

A quirky care package (in response to one of life’s weirder weekends) that included a personalized 80s mix, which might still be (read: definitely still is) in my car.

A faded and still favorite Etsy made coffee mug, opened amongst bittersweet tears at a farewell dinner before my family moved.

These women are my village, and not in some overly simplified meme or clichéd cocktail napkin sort of way.

We’ve called each other out when one of us has needed it, made each other laugh until it was evident who hadn’t done their Kegels, and stepped up for one another – especially when it wasn’t convenient.

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I love them fiercely, but not exclusively.

Through all kinds of happenstance, I’ve also formed friendships with women as far from Gen X as possible.

Some have been a part of my social circle since the very beginning. Women who instead of just watching me grow up, helped guide me through it, from awkward teenager to tolerable twenty-something. Women who hosted my bridal shower and years later showed up with delicious home cooked meals when I was a sleep deprived new mama.

Others I met in the course of the unremarkable every day – whether finding my way in a new community, ferrying kids from one activity to another, or slowing down enough to enjoy small group Scripture study.

Every time I wrap up in my favorite quilt, I’m back in the kitchen of a precious friend who helped me cut old shirts into 12 x 12 squares, sew them together, and iron what would become the front of the coziest blanket ever.

It’s impossible to grab my favorite red apron (hand sewn and monogrammed for the mister and me once upon a wedding) without thinking about the one who made it. To wear it is to remember back porch talks, pitchers of iced tea and a kinship I will always treasure.

Each year at Christmas, I feel a lump in my throat when I open the Radko box, the one with the evergreen and the year printed along the base. I remember the two who gave it to me, the countless meals and memories we shared, and the visit I’m so glad I made happen, not knowing that by the next Christmas Eve, one of them would be gone.

These are the friendships that have influenced me the most.

They have little to do with being of a similar age, and everything to do with speaking unvarnished truth and showing unconditional support – attributes that underscore my most valued relationships.

Maybe it’s the mother of a kid in your kid’s class.

Maybe it’s someone old enough to be your mother.

Maybe the age gap is such that once upon a long time ago, you could have been their babysitter.

And so what? We’re all stuck in different strands of the same chaos, and none of us have it all figured out.

However it presents itself to you, when it does, don’t dismiss it.

Let friendship happen.