I had big plans for what I was going to write today. But now at 9:23, I’m a little tired, and—truth be told—a little drunk after starting my birthday celebrations in the company of four extremely wonderful women. This morning I tweeted about networking—how the word has come to mean meeting that person who will give you your next step toward advancement, but really what networking is about is finding a support system, a group of people who will push you and pull you toward your goals, who support you through your steps forward, but also your steps backward. I had planned to try again to blog this year every day, but I wouldn’t be getting off to such a strong start if it weren’t for the fact that Phillipa and Karen are with me, virtually pushing, prodding, applauding, and setting the pace. As for my dinner companions, there’s Maryrose who when I headed back to work after pneumonia, able to walk only with the aid of a walker, decided that she and her husband would come pick me up at my new apartment every morning so I didn’t have to stress about climbing the steps of the Metrobus and so someone would be there to watch over me as I braved the subway every morning and every evening. There’s Mary Margaret who bravely left her day job to excel as an arts consultant, who is the best schmoozer I know because she is so genuinely interested in and supportive of others. There’s Jillian who’s whip smart and funny as all hell and who understands what a great adventure it is to check out the old-school bra shop so one can get “organized.” And there’s Meaghan who has weathered more physical challenges than most anyone I know with grace, a sense of humor, and the most amazing style. My little sister Debbie is also blogging every day this month and every day with her I learn more about what it is to love and be loved. And then I think about all the women I’ve known—Ronica and Angelica and Patty who never quit on me in college no matter how many times I stopped to pee behind the Dunkin Donuts on the way home from soccer parties and “The Divas,” my writing group in Chicago who taught me how to write, how to be brave enough to send my work out into the world, and without whom I never would have dared to apply for fellowships and residencies and even graduate school. There’s Joyce, one of my sisters in the Lord, who loves pink as much as I do and thrift shopping and who has healed my heart broken by careless friendships in ways I don’t think she even knows.
I guess what I’m saying in this litany, as I drink one last chocolate martini and contemplate the dishes in the sink and when tonight’s premiere of Downton Abbey will be up on the PBS website, is that I’ve been so utterly blessed by the company of women. My sisters, my friends, my beloveds. There’s no moral to this story, only the wish that you find and treasure your own networks, whether they’re networks of two or twenty. I wish for you that you will embody E.M. Forster’s maxim and “only connect” because it’s in truly knowing others and allowing them to know us that we truly apprehend the world and who we are called to be in it.