I’VE GOT SAND IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES
by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serritella
There are some things you learn only as you get older.
One is that the world will not end if you gain five pounds, or even ten.
The other is that girlfriends grow even more precious with time.
I wanted to take a serious moment, uncharacteristic for me, to celebrate female friendship, especially after all of our estrogen has collectively evaporated.
I say this because I just got back from the Girls Night Out with a group of friends, which was truly a Girls Night In, because for some reason we never got to a restaurant. We always go to the same person’s house because she is the best cook and loves to entertain, and even though we try to reciprocate, she says no.
Or at least, that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.
The amazing thing about this group of women friends is that we came together because of our children, and we stayed together, even though we have nothing in common and our children have long since flown the nest.
What brought us together?
This group of six women, all of whom raised daughters who got bit by the horse bug and never let it go.
Daughter Francesca fell in love with horses at age ten, though she had never met a real horse, but only played with overpriced versions of them in plastic.
I’m talking, of course, about Breyer ponies, which are the equine equivalent of Barbie’s.
She had Barbie’s too, but her interest in them waned, despite the fact that they had a fancy car and a dream house, which, by the way, were things that Francesca did not have growing up, as she was the only child of a broke single mother, who was struggling to become a published writer.
That would be me.
Francesca loves Breyer ponies, as well as My Little Ponies, then segued into reading books about horses and watching movies about horses, and in time it became pretty obvious that she was horse-crazy and I should really scrape some money together to get her riding lessons.
Because every mother knows that is you have any extra money, it is going for something the kids want, which is as God intended.
(Because somebody did it for you, didn’t they?)
And so once a week, we drove an hour to take horseback riding lessons in the country, and the more we did it, the more she loved, it, by which point it began to be pretty clear to me that we should just move to the country, because it’s cheaper, prettier, and as a writer, I could live in the middle of nowhere.
The barn provided Francesca with a horse to ride, but in time my writing career took off, thanks to all of you, and I was able to get her a real horse, and not only that, she got me interested in riding, so I stared lessons, too. And about the same time, we looked around in the country for other people for her to ride with and we discovered something called Pony Club.
Pony Club is a nonprofit organization that was stared in Britain but grew to attract horse-crazy kids, mostly girls, from everywhere and teach them the basics of horse-keeping.
Which is a lot more fun that house-keeping.
And they also get to form teams and compete against other Pony Clubs, just like a regular team sport, which means that Horse Moms do the things that Soccer, Baseball, Basketball, and Football Moms do, like drive kids to practice, make sure they have the right equipment, and desperately comb grocery-store shelves for healthy snacks in a world when unhealthy snacks are calling their name.
The only difference is Horse Moms have to pick up manure.
So Francesca joined Pony Club when she was about thirteen, and I met a circle or moms who had nothing in common but the fact that their kids were crazy about horses. We were a desperate group of Democrats, Republicans, Independents, nonprofit organizers, small-business owners, financial analysts, divorced and married, and we came from very different backgrounds. But like me, many of those moms had taken up riding themselves, if not out of curiosity, then in self-defense, because you’d better know what you’re doing with a horse or you’re liable to get kicked in the head.
And so began the origin of my friendship with these women – Nan, Paula, Pam, Karen, and Jodi – and I’m surprised to report that this friendship has continued even though all of our daughters have grown up and all of our lives have changed in so many ways I can’t begin to enumerate them, but they look a lot like the aisle of a greeting-card store; there are birthdays, anniversaries, second and third marriages, illness, deaths, and most lately, grandchildren.
God Bless Hallmark.
I say this not in a denigrating way, because it came as a lovely surprise to me that if you stay close with a group of women, not only over ten years, but over twenty or even longer, you will share with them the major events in their lives, the ups and downs, all of the tears and the joy, and the friendship will gain a momentum of its own, even if you don’t see each other that often.
And so maybe three times a year, we all invade Karen’s house and she makes us something delicious, and we’ve been doing this for so long that we hope she will make her hearty minestrone soup or her incredible corn salad.
When you crave dishes that your friends make, you’re living your life right.
I just returned from one of those nights, and Karen made the hearty minestrone because it’s that time of year, and we sat around the table and caught each other up on what our life is like, as well as what our kids’ lives are like, and even what our horses’ lives are like.
And our dogs and chickens, too.
Because animal people never know when to quit.
By the way, we still don’t have anything in common, even after all these years, but that doesn’t seem to matter. Nor does the fact that our kids are grown and that some of us don’t even ride anymore.
We still have all of our differences, and in some ways we’ve become even more different. I didn’t even realize how different until last night, when the subject turned to politics, in an election season.
And even though we disagreed on fundamental issues, all of us loved each other too much to let that part us.
We had each other.
And we had hearty minestrone.
And sometimes, that is more than enough.