Five Women, One Bathroom
In 2007, I joined a gang. I decided not to keep it a secret and when I told my mother, she cried. Not because I become involved in a gang. But because I finally had friends.
This gang had some of the usual gang characteristics...we were forced to do things outside of our comfort zone, membership wasn't easily rescinded, and yes, there was even the occasional sharing of drugs. I'll admit, my gang activity became addicting and changed my life.
The name of the gang is called the FAB FIVE, cleverly named because there are five of us. And we're fabulous. And old as the Beatles. We came together by circumstance, not choice (in other words, we didn't pick each other). We each had a goal to get a nurse practitioner degree. So three years ago, we met when school started. Every three weeks, we carpooled from St. George to the University of Utah, and stayed together from Thursday through Saturday in a single motel room on campus. Five women. One bathroom. Two beds, one temperature control, and five different stages of menopause.
Just like with most groups of strong women, we occasionally disagreed.
Bridget, the eldest, kept our hotel room at a balmy 53 degrees F, unless of course, she was having a hot flash (which still comes more often than Bill Clinton). During a flash, Bridget would hop up faster than a cheetah on amphetamines, glide across the arctic tundra, her feet crunching the ice crystals I'm sure had formed on the carpet, and turned on the air conditioning. But the rest of us didn't mind. Mostly because we were no longer conscious...having long since lapsed into a hypothermic coma.
Amanda, the group's youngest, called her hubby about 22 times daily, unless she brought her cell phone. Then she tried to keep in touch a little more often.
Melissa, our home and school preparedness specialist, made sure our hotel room was well stocked with supplies (because of our remote location and all). Not really sure if the U was as progressive as the Y, Melissa brought a computer printer, three hole punch, stapler, spare light bulbs, and little packets of mayonnaise. We had a good laugh when she pulled out air freshener for the one and only bathroom. But we sure didn't laugh (aka tease) when she treated us for allergies, headaches or cramps from her traveling pharmacy that would make Rite-Aid jealous. (Remember the drug-sharing?)
Heide secretly (or not so secretly) wanted to be Danica Patrick and, despite the permanent fingernail impressions we clawed into her leather seats from hanging on, she diligently practiced high speed lane changes reserved only for people like James Bond or OJ Simpson. Whenever it was Heide's turn to drive, the rest of us took out extra life insurance and pre-medicated with mega doses of Benadryl.... (which incidentally, may have had something to do with lapsing into a coma).
I was the Apple Nazi, trying every trip to convince the group to convert to using a MAC. I was like a neutered rabbit on hormones: relentless yet completely ineffective.
Truly, it was our differences that made us treasure our similarities even more. With five contrasting personalities, our friendship was like a salted caramel. Each distinct component, both pungent and sweet, makes the whole flavor better when together.
We were [and still are] like girlfriends in a movie. I dubbed us the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Not because we shared magical jeans, but because we hauled our luggage up two flights of stairs, panting all the way. Besides the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, we were the Sisterhood of the Traveling Rants. We became experts at ranting. We shared dreams and goals, giggled like schoolgirls on the playground, philosophized about people and politics, and ranted about our families and the future. These simple moments of sharing sustained and baricaded us while the complexities of life swirled around outside our hotel room, impatiently waiting to get in. Our little group became the eye of one anothers' storms.
Panting and ranting together for three years, we formed a fortress of trusted friendship built by layering tolerance first, then acceptance, and ultimately a celebration of our differences, relying on each other's strengths to fill in the gaps where each was weak. Our school journey wasn't easy (or warm). We each had personal and professional disappointments and joy, challenges and successes along the way. But it was these ups and downs which gave us the opportunity to find stability among five women unlikely to be friends under different circumstances.
Through this, I've learned that when you work so hard to grab hold of something special, you work even harder to not let go. I never want to leave the fab five gang.
In one hotel room with one bathroom, five women shared a hundred laughs, solved a thousand problems and made a million memories.
Now I understand why my mother cried.