because none of us is fucking up like we think we are, is what i'm trying to say

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Tribe

“Fucking hell,” she said to me, as they huddled outside for a fag and I finished my risotto on the sofa. “It’s like four Laura Jane Williams’s in one room. Like, who’d have thought? There’s more of you! I’d never have guessed that was possible.”

Me neither, I said to my housemate, laughing. Me. Fucking. Neither.

She was talking about three of the most kick-ass, creative ladies I know, who this weekend I invited to my house for a grown women’s sleepover, because: tribe.

Some people just get you more than others, you know?

It started with the women who made me, on my travels. A group of girls who should never have crossed paths, really, different as we all are, and yet there we found ourselves, on the Italian Riviera, bonding over Nutella-laced gelato and building each other into the women we were always going to be.

Then that woman, the one they built, came to London, and the world was my oyster. But how do you find the people just like you in a city of over eight million? Travellers are easy: they’re out on the road. Who would my London friends be? I tried everything I could to figure it out: dance classes and supper clubs, book meetings and volunteer sessions. My people must be out there, I wailed in the lonely hours, desperate to be understood in the place I now called home.

Alexandra Cameron
I wanted women who made things. Who had to tell stories; had to craft narratives with words or pictures or fashion or dance or theatre. Chicks who were wanky motherfuckers in their bones, comprehending mercury in retrograde, and human imperfection, and the relevance of the Kardashians. My people would know that sobbing on the kitchen floor is not a breakdown but a breakthrough, and never bitch about other women. They’d celebrate being alive. Say yes. Be wide open, but careful about who they let cross the threshold. Those were the women I needed.

When I first moved, two years ago, I was really very lonely. Building a life from scratch is hard. But I knew that they were out there. My tribe. I just had to find them is all.

I did.

Megan Gilbride is a blogger I know through my old PR job, who floored me with her chatty but professional emails and generous spirit, and who I just had to bully into being my friend. MISSION SUCCESSFUL. Alexandra Cameron is the photographer who papped me naked, once upon a time, and I knew of her because she read my eBook and wrote to me about it. Just to say hi, and thank you, and to share her own story. I liked that. I liked that she had the courage to spill her insides out for inspection to a perfect stranger, and didn’t expect anything in return. And then there’s Emma Gannon, a digital journalist who I stalked via Twitter for about a year before we actually met. I fell in lust with her brain before I knew much about her soul, but when a mutual friend introduced us over drinks I knew she was tribe. She just got it.

That those three women now know each other, too, that they hang out without me and bump into each other at events and make art together and maybe – just maybe – also play cupid for one another as well, is testament to how we women, the tribe, are. Social. Communal. Giving. Loving. Feminist. A force.

Recently I went to a dinner with a bunch of strangers who my friend Jamie figured should all know each other. I met Jamie at a book club I don’t even go to anymore, but I looked after her pup last Christmas and email her when I need encouragement to keep writing. She was American bold enough to say to me, quite naturally, Hey kid. You’re cool. Let's boogey.

I’m so proud I took her cue and learnt to do that myself, too. It makes making friends so much easier.

I’ve had some bloopers, of course – some outtakes on this tribe adventure. Not every woman is comfortable with herself enough to genuinely be in support of others. There can be smack-talking and back-handedness, energy-zappers and bores. But… so? As with men and dating, you have to kiss some friendship frogs before your queens emerge. I don’t get upset by it. Not anymore. It’s simple: they’re just not tribe.

I felt so very grateful this weekend. Blessed that I searched for teammates and didn’t give up until found them. That my team have their team, and everyone is getting to know one another, deliberately, purposefully, tribe member by tribe member. We’re strong and vulnerable and female, in constant cheerleader mode, always searching for others who might like to hop aboard.

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