21 Sep 2012

Paris And The Truth About Girlfriends

It’s over.

That is… something that I have been looking forward to all year… finished… gone in a blink, a heartbeat… evaporated into thin air… All the days of waiting replaced by, what seemed like seconds, of laughing, of chatting… chatting long and chatting short… of joking… of wonderful, wonderful companionship. Yes, I am talking about time spent with girlfriends. Girlfriend time is one of a kind… it is unique, special, involved and evolved… I believe that as women, we are privileged to have girlfriends… girlfriends that we giggle with, shop with, cry with… look good and look bad with… discuss all and everything with… girlfriends that let us be us… and girlfriends that have no other agenda than friendship… Not all girlfriends are like this… there are girlfriends and then there are girlfriends… you understand what I mean… I am thinking about the genuine girlfriend, those few, very special people that enhance our lives and light up our world.


A relationship with a girlfriend is one of a kind… it is not the same as the one we have with our partners, our daughters, our sons… or even our mothers and fathers. I have known my husband since I was twenty… and what he doesn’t know about me isn’t worth knowing… he is my best friend, my partner in life and one of the greatest guys on earth… and yet he is no ‘girlfriend’. That is the beauty of being human, we have an infinite capacity to form relationships and to love… in so many various ways… Girlfriends don’t fill in the missing gaps they raise life to a new level… Girlfriends are as essential as the air we breath and yet they are a precious gift.


My last ten days in Paris and Provence have been spent with a girlfriend, Sande. We met via blogging… we started our blogs around the same time… back when the community of bloggers was smaller and we were able to get to know each other through posts, comments and emails… blogging was uncomplicated and connections were made more easily… simply because the audiences were smaller. We braved our first trip to Paris two years ago… two women from different worlds, who knew very little about each other yet who had the confidence to say, ‘let’s meet in Paris’… it worked and a real friendship began… Over the last two years we have remained connected thanks to email, Skype and the blogs… but nothing is the same as spending real time together.


This year Sande invited me to meet her in Paris, to stay with her for five days and by return I invited her to my home in Provence… Can I just tell you, we had the best time… the very best time.. The backdrop of Paris, as beautiful as she is, paled into significance because the real fun was being together. Girlfriend time.. girlfriend chat… The cosy Parisian bolt hole became our, ‘home’ away from home and a place that we never wanted to leave… we were like college roommates… flatmates… yet in reality we are married women, mothers and loaded with responsibilities… For these past days, we have been girlfriends. Girlfriends that giggled, that shopped, that inspired one another… girlfriends that listened. After Paris, Provence was quiet and calm… an oasis after the frenetic activity of the city… I wanted to show off my Provence… drive, visit, tour and explain as much as I could… yet our time was spent at home… We were girlfriends with too much to say and too little time… my show and tell will have to wait for another day.


Girlfriends talk over the same subjects until they are thrashed and pummelled into place… whether it be politics or the right shade of lipstick…there is no ‘pretend’ interest or glazing of eyes… a girlfriend is genuinely interested and can do the mileage because she cares and because she too, is interested in those things. Girlfriends can spend hours browsing in stores… helping make decisions… offering constructive criticism… and girlfriends know when it’s time to stay quiet and leave well enough alone… Girlfriends can watch the same movies, over and over… knowing the punchlines… the familiarity of the outcomes, entirely happy to be in each other’s company… Girlfriends… just ‘get’ us… And by ‘girlfriend’ I mean the true friend not the acquaintances or the women who pretend to be ‘girlfriends’ but really have an entirely different motive altogether.


Girlfriends… never underestimate them, take them for granted or neglect them… because without our girlfriends our lives would be so much duller… our lives would be drab… Girlfriends add that sparkle, that joie de vivre to an already interesting journey.


Aren’t we lucky to have girlfriends? xv

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101 Comments

Gigi

This post made me tear up, Vicki, for so many reasons. One, because I know both you and Sande through blogging, and I admire you both so much. I also admire the friendship that you two share. What a gift to treasure, and as you say, one that is absolutely as essential as the air we breathe. It also made me weepy thinking about my small handful of truly great female friendships. I can’t imagine my life without these women.

I love that you and Sande took that risk to meet in Paris two years ago. You both trusted your instincts, and what magic you created in the process! As always, you inspire me. xo Gigi

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Vicki

Thank you Gigi… I am sure we all feel the same about our ‘girlfriends’… they are to be treasured… as for risks… life would be dull without them… :)

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Caramel et Fleur de sel

So Beautiful, Vicky. I love my true girlfriends (and I can count them on one hand) …. they are there in times of happiness and sadness …. like a rock, always caring and loving, with open arms. Then there are those “pretend girlfriends” …. always there, well, only in happy times.
I think friendship is an art that little girls learn at an early age. They learn how to be good friends by watching their own mothers interact with other women …. I also think it has a lot to do with the relationship between mothers and daughters.
Cheers to friendship!

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Vicki

There is an art to friendship… to be giving, to be genuine, to listen, to be loyal and to be trustworthy… Mothers and daughters… now that is a great, great subject… for another day.. :)

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Anita Rivera

Oh Vicki, I totally agree. I have been married to my best friend for 30 years. In those 30 years, we have moved three times to go to universities across the country, we have traveled and also experienced the death of both my parents at the same time. Through those times, HE HAS ALWAYS been my best friend. But both of us, just recently, found that we also needed BEST FRIENDS of the same sex. Being a busy college prof, he rarely has time to form best buddy relationships, but he had a great friend this past year. Together, they could talk about what interested THEM, COMICS!!!!!!! All the while, I too have formed the BEST blogging/email friendships and ONE OF THEM LIVES IN MY CITY! When she and I meet, we laugh, cry, create, hope and dream.

Paris is always so much better with a best friend.

PEACE! Anita

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Jess Flett

Girlfriends are absolutely special… And you’re spot on… They should never be taken for granted. You and Sande sound like you had a magical time together. Jx

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quintessence

What a wonderful treat!! I’m sure you and Sande had just the most amazing time together. I only wish your photos were a tad bigger so I could vicariously follow along!!

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Vicki

Stacey, they were just happy snaps… and beside I am the worst at having my photo taken… I am a snapper, never snapped!

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Heather in Arles

Yes, indeed we are! Vicki, I loved this. If you were here, you would have seen me nodding my head along and even saying an emphatic “yes” out loud. Girlfriends not only don’t have an agenda, they don’t compete with us and even if they try to nudge us in a positive direction from time to time, they don’t try to “fix” us either!!! It is the best feeling just being together and I am so truly happy that you and Sande had such a fantastic time–it shows on your faces in the photos!

I think that something that is difficult for folks who have never been an expat to understand is how hard it can be to make new girlfriends overseas and how challenging it is too be separated from our tried and true friends. When I first moved to France, I was completely adrift without my NYC girlfriends–even if we were all too busy to get together often, I knew they were there. It took a long time to meet friends in France and it is still a challenge…so yes, I know how special this time must have been for you.

Gros bisous,
Heather

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Vicki

That is so true Heather… it is very hard as an expat, leaving behind the BFFs and while nothing replaces them life really looks up when we finally do meet a like minded soul… Again, I always say that blogging is an incredible way to meet and make friends… If not for blogging my life would not be nearly as enriched or varied in my friendships…

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A Gift Wrapped Life

I have wiped away my tears after reading your most beautiful post Vicki and now I am sitting here with a wonderful smile. You write so true and beautifully. I do hope all your readers understand how easy it is to have a girlfriend like you………..you are the friend who stands there for 30 minutes in a hot, hot dressing room and passes over the clothes, the one who says you must buy that (and was right), who buys fresh almond croissants because they are my favorite, who hands you a blanket when it is time to watch a relaxing movie, who patiently takes you to the french airport and waits until you are safely through the gate, and I could go on and on. You are the bright spot in my world of girlfriends and darn it all………….you live so far away! You are a remarkably gifted and kind woman and a bring such pleasure and beauty to anyone who surrounds you. What a gift.
Much, much love and kisses, hugs.
Sande

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pve

Please see my post today. It is exactly how I feel about my blogging friend Victoria.
Girlfriends are so very special. How marvelous to have one another.
Sweet.
pve

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Vicki

Aren’t we lucky to have the blogs as a forum for like minded souls… it certainly has enhanced and opened up my world…

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simone

I LOVE this post…and couldn’t agree more with all your comments, my girlfriends are everything to me.

I can only imagine what a wonderful time you & Sande had together…having read both your blogs for some time now, I can totally imagine how you would be friends….how lovely.

Love the photos too, what fun!! XX

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david terry

Dear Vicki,

Well, it’s odd you should bring up this topic today; just two nights ago (which would be the night before my French in-laws arrived for their three-week stay here), the topic of women and their “girlfriends” came up among several friends of mine (who aren’t necessarily friends with each other) at dinner.

It was a fairly-representatively “mixed group”….one married couple, two single-women in their forties, one single&straight man, and two gay men (those would, of course, be stodgily domestic & coupled Herve and me). All were above the age of forty. In any case, we had all the demographic bases covered when the debate/dsicussion began….between one of the single, heterosexual (I do think the distinction matters in this debate)women and one of the married men. Weirdly enough (to me, at least) it seemed to focus on “Women are better friends with each other than men are with other men”.

I (as I trotted back and forth, as usual, playing waiter)found the entire discussion VERY interesting, particularly since everyone seemed to have some patently pre-conceived opinion about women’s “girlfriends”. Suffice it to say that these opinions ranged from the markedly dismissive and rather offensive “Oh, it’s just that whole ‘Sex and the City’ thing, you know” (from the straight, single man, as you might guess)to the absurd “Women are just more capable of EXPERIENCING real relationships” (from one of the straight, single women).

Between all-male boarding schools, the college I attended, writing a “feminist” dissertation, and some other factors, I’ve spent a lifetime either living or examining The Life of Male Priviledge. So…I listened to my friends and thought “good Lord…the ‘answer’ is EASY…. they’re all off-base…”

Basically, I told them (once I’d stopped trotting-out the food)that exclusively same-sex friendships rather obviously existed for both men and women…..and that women weren’t at all any “better at them” than men were or are…..it’s simply a matter of women sincerely APPRECIATING their same-sex friendships more than men appreciate (which is different from “valuing”) their friendships with other men.

WHY?..men take such relationships for granted…it’s an absolute, historical GIVEN that they/we don’t have to feel the least bit guilty for having close friendships outside of the family, home, or work. It’s absolutely expected of us, in fact, in certain business and social circles. I emphasized that you can’t say that this is “bad” of men….wouldn’t everyone do it if he/she could?

Women, by contrast, have historically (and even now) felt slightly “guilty” for not being completely devoted to what is supposedly their sphere of duties/responsibilities. How many women’s clubs meet at night?…precisely none, historically. Far too many wives/mothers/women-in-general feel (even nowadays) that slight pressure of guilt for having lunch with a “girlfriend”. Presumably, women should be paying more attention the house, the children, the boyfriend, the husband, etcetera.

Oh, well…I could drone on….suffice it to say that I do think most women consciously APPRECIATE their friendships with each other, and the brief times they get to spend just being friends, without having to worry about what’s supposedly being neglected….whereas men simply take such “time-off” for granted and as something that they’ve earned and deserve.

It’s simple (and I was a waiter for years during graduate school, so I know whereof I speak)…..no one looks at three men sitting at the bar in a fancy restaurant and thinks “Who’s taking care of their wives and kids while they’re here socializing?”. I can’t tell you the times I’ve heard wait-staff or other customers remarking on the supposed irresponsibility of women-ov er-the-age-of-25 if they’re socializing in a group.

Well, that’s all (and ,yes, I know it’s a lot). Your posting’s reference to “responsibilities” obviously struck a chord with me.

thanks for the predictably evocative posting,

david terry
http://www.davidterryart.com

Reply
Vicki

I think women by nature are appreciative creatures… I don’t believe that men have lesser friendships than women, just different.

I would say and only from my point of view, that girlfriends to me are possibly more important, more influential than similar friendships my husband has with his male friends. This is by no means a criticism… just an observation. I think women make more time for their girlfriends…. men either can’t or don’t need to…

As for women drinking or dining alone… it’s a long time since I have been called irresponsible…:) I might even like it!!

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david terry

Hmmm, Vicki…your intuition is probably correct when you write “men either can’t or probably don’t need to”.

I would (after years and years of gender-studies) nonetheless emphasize (and particularly given that your blog is almost completely frequented by obviously heterosexual and usually married-with-children women “of a certain age”)that it would be interesting to hear some sincere responses from, say?…..lesbians, heterosexual women who have quite intentionally never married or had children, gay men, etcetera. I’m always a bit wary of any supposed business involving generalizations about whatever “men” and “women” are and/or do (including the fact that, aside from the syllabic rhythm, nobody ever says “women and men”….everyone nearly-always says “men and women”).

The question (and it IS a question) remains intensely interesting for me, at least.

I do agree entirely with you that the majority of heterosexual men “don’t need to”…..rather obviously, they don’t even discuss the matter of their constantly joining/belonging-to clubs that (at least in America) are named after extinct or disappearing large-mammals (The Elks Club, The Lion’s Club, The Moose Club, etcetera).

That said?….it’s unproductive (if you’re seriously interested in the question) to entertain the notion that “men” (whatever that generalization might entail) “can’t” develop/appreciate/whatever friendships as women (whatever that remarkably generalized category might be)do.

In considering socialization (and to respond in a markedly oblique and by-analogy manner), I’d say that no one appreciates a gratifying dinner so much as someone who’s been previously denied it.

That’s just common sense and human nature.
I’d also add (for whatever it’s worth; I’m not exactly supervising a demographically “correct” analysis here) that women, as a whole and given those I know, seem FAR more likely to become very good friends with other women who are far older or far younger; most men (gay or straight, old or young, rich or poor) tend to bond with other men who are, basically, just like themselves.

It’s an odd (but useful) thing to consider, isn’t it?…

I know and have known quite a number of women who’ve spent/wasted time trying to “explain”/justify their girlfriends to their husbands. I don’t know any husbands who have felt the need to do the same.

Obviously, my experience is purely personal and anecdotal. I should emphasize that, until I was forty, I’d spent all of my life quite contentedly (if not entirely intentionally) quite “alone”.

Consequently, I’ve spent a lot of time observing other folks, both profesionally and “personally”.

thanks for the obviously evocative posting,

David Terry

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Vicki

Hello again David,

I don’t think that men ‘can’t’ appreciate the same friendships as women… they can and could if they wanted to. I believe that the sexes have different requirements from their friendships… and girls, regardless of status, age and sexuality, seem to ‘need’ the company of their girlfriends in a different way to their male peers.

As to the friendships we form… I had never thought about ‘age’ and ‘friendship’ as such… but in my own case some of my best friends aren’t the same age… they are indeed older and younger… What does that mean? That women are more able to mix out of their familiar and comfortable peer groups? That men find safety in staying with the familiar? Interesting…

Such a big topic… i could go on and on… xv

and PS I would never, ever justify or explain the existence of girlfriends… I have never heard of that before… it would be a very foolish man to take that one on… ;)

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L Sorensen-Jolink

My closest friends are of both genders, and, as cultural normsl open, less and less about the nature of my close friendships seems to be rooted in or even related to our genders.

French Girl in Seattle

Lovely post, and your personal “Ode to Girlfriends,” Vicki. I can relate to everything you wrote – very eloquently I must add. Immediately went over to Sande’s blog so I could meet her “in person,” and started following her blog. Loved these shoes you both invested in. Bravo, Mesdames. Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

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Mademoiselle Poirot

That’s such a wonderful post: like a beautiful homage to female friendships. Something that’s not written about often enough! Great post, thanks for sharing. Love from London xo

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mary

Hi Vicki, I know exactly what you mean. I met my dearest sweetest friend (don’t tell, almost 35 years ago) when we had just moved to Spain and I was about ready to pop with my second child and with whom I could spend days just doing whatever is just like that. We share many things in common, but not all (diametrically opposed on some issues) but it doesn’t matter. Our hearts are pointed the same direction. Have a wonderful day.
Mary

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Barnali Guha

So very well written, Vicki. Yes, friends are indeed special and soulmate friends are so refreshing. I am glad you were able to spend some downtime with your girlfriend, this is an important gift to yourself and to her.

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La Contessa

Really , truely a lovely post!Tis so true too!
I finally ordered your first book from AMAZON and it came yesterday!Could you hear my squeal of delight!Now remember my AUSSIE girlfriend had it for me to read years ago when I went down to visit her and I cherished it.So, like a “girlfriend”I’m going to re~visit it and enjoy even more now the second go around, because its as if I know you now.I best order book number two but will space them so I can enjoy longer……………

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Vicki

Thank you… I hope you get as much pleasure reading them as I have had writing them and creating the images with Carla… it was a labour of love and an experience I am forever grateful for…

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Vicki

We did Peggy… I think we make such strong friendships on our blogs.. I wish we could all meet… Somehow it is a forum that encourages like minded souls…

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Playing With Scarves

Bonjour Vicki,
What a nice ode to friendship and to your dear friend Sande – who by the way has a lovely blog too. I relate so much to your words. Women friendship is precious and unique. It’s definitely something men will never ever understand. My theory is that we “fall in frienship” as we fall in love. It’s almost chemistry… It’s a blessing to have good friends we can trust and with whom we can share anything – from happiness to sorrow. I cannot imagine what life would be without girl friends. Your post reminds me of two French saying, one I agree with and why I don’t agree with… “on n’a de meilleur ami(e) que soi-même”, sad and not true, I think. “Celui qui n’est plus ton ami ne l’a jamais été”, a little bit sad but very true…
Cheers to friendship!
Anne

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david terry

Oh, I agree with you, Vicki…..that particular epigram ( “on n’a de meilleur ami(e) que soi-même”)is a more than a bit wince-making.

There’s a very&very good reason I keep a pack of rowdy terriers. They’re in charge of being my “best friend”, while I trot around, all day, making sure they get their food and water and sufficient rabbits to chase-down and kill.

Quite frankly?…. a very high-born and gracious lady who was born and raised in this village (which isn’t an inappropriate or affected term) threw an elegant “Meet Herve & David” party for us last Sunday afternoon. She’d invited (after my requesting such) one of my longtime friends from Durham, and I introduced him to folks by saying “This is Godfrey…who’s my ‘best friend’ since I gave Herve his promotion”.

all in all….I would (and do) very much hope that I’m not my own “best friend”. I do my best to keep-on-hand a good supply of candidates for that not-necessarily enviable position.

Warily yours as ever,

David Terry
http://www.davidterryart.com

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david terry

Yes, indeed, Vicki…that’s how Herve regards the matter (he’s heard my phrasing of it numerous times and always laughs, which pleases me). I’ve known Godfrey, in various ways, for over 25 years. Herve’s tail came to this country only twelve years ago, and I met him on the front porch of my friend Laura’s house (where I lived for seven years) when he responded to a match.com ad I thought had lapsed two years previously. Not exactly an auspicious or well-timed introduction….I was dressed to go out to dinner, and two of my dogs attacked him when Laura signalled that he seemed odd. Fortunately, the dogs were west highlands and fairly small.

Not to go entirely Mitt-Romney-ish on you, but?….Herve was (quite deservedly) granted a very quick promotion up-the-ranks.

As you may have gathered, I don’t tend to waste time (certainly not as much as most folks seem to think they can demand of one) or shilly-shally around with half-assed & half-baked impressions of folks.

Herve tends to sum up the matter by saying that we met, skipped that entire, grimly predictable “DATING” routine, and simply settled immediately into middle-aged and contented domesticity.

Just for the record?…Herve and I were both, long ago & in our quite individual twenties and on separate continents, quite in love with people who later died. We met when I was 42 and Herve was 32. We’re both, of course, quite familiar with various photographs of “the person” the other was in love with twenty years ago.

That changes everything. For better or worse, neither of us seems to think about or talk about “relationships” as most folks seem to do.

—david terry

Jeanne McKay Hartmann

So, so lucky. Vicki, this is such a lovely tribute to great girlfriends. And you are right, life would be so diminished without them. I’m so glad you and Sande had such a glorious time. I have to say, my best trips to Paris have been the girlfriend trips. Looking back, days spent there over the years with some of my lovely girls are some of the happiest and most memorable of my life.
I hope the memories of your girlfriend days burn bright long enough to sustain you to the next getaway!!! XO

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Vicki

Why is it that trips with girlfriends are so memorable? I think it’s the laughter, the being silly… I am always reminded of that film, ‘It’s Complicated’ when Meryl Streep sits with her girlfriends and regales them with stories of her ‘affair’ with her ex… it’s the funniest and the best scene in the movie… but the thing I love most is that girlfriends and their friendships are so obviously the point… Laughter, giggling and smiling are under-rated… :)

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Hallie

Overwhelmingly beautifully written, you’ve captured real girlfriend friendship exactly. This is only one of the reasons you are a treasure, and I’ve never met you.

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Sandy

Vicki – What a lovely post! I can’t think of anything better than spending time in a beautiful country like France with good friends and family. How wonderful that you made such a close friendship through blogging! As a brand new blogger, I am very much looking forward to that aspect of sharing my blog with people. Thanks for giving us a little beauty in our lives every day!

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Vicki

Blogging is a wonderful community Sandy… there are so many talented people to engage with… you will love it… :)

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La Comtesse Lola

A charming and delightful post, as well as timely…perfect to share with a teenage daughter! Merci!

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Vicki

We need to teach our girls the value of friendships and the importance of their girlfriends.. as I am sure our mothers taught us…

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Katherine

I read both of your blogs and it doesn’t surprise me that you are great friends. Your comfortable style is very similar in your blog presentations – and I mean that in the most complimentary way.
Sande lives not far from me and I love that she is proudly Canadian with a broad outlook on the International front.
It’s nice to hear about the friendships forged from blogging. It’s a reward I didn’t expect and really cherish.

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Vicki

I agree Katherine… it’s one of the reasons I have been blogging for so long… the instant connection with readers is so gratifying and so meaningful… the joys of the internet, means we can all be connected wherever we live… Aren’t we lucky?

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Deborah Peterson Milne

You write so beautifully Vicki of what true girlfriends share. You have me missing mine tonight who are all back in states. It was a joy to see your photos and I can imagine the special times spent together. You both are extraordinary women and no surprise you have developed into as precious friends. I think that’s what we women all truly desire, women we can be just ourselves with. I loved this post!

All my best to you x Deb

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Vicki

As I was writing this it made me miss my Aussie ‘girls’ too… in fact it made me think I need to be better at communicating with them… :)

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Leslie

Yes Vicki .. We need to teach our daughters the value of true friendship. Being open, genuine, caring… that’s what it’s all about. So glad you had a good time!

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Garden, Home and Party

Vicki,
Well said! I just returned from a girlfriends trip and I feel like all we did was laugh and share fun stuff over the 5 days we spent together. It’s soup for the soul as they say.
Great post.
Karen

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Kate

What a touching and beautifully written post Vicki, having met both of you 2 years ago at that very special cafe I knew the bond you had was strong, and to be able to once again share Paris together, it doesn’t get much better. We must treasure always those wonderful friends and times we get to spend together. X

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Jennifer

True girlfriends are gems. It looks like you and Sande had the time of your lives. The pictures tell a beautiful story as well. This year I find myself weeding out the “friends” who are not genuine. You and Sande are lucky to have built such a wonderful friendship from opposite sides of the pond. The blogosphere does make the world a very small place indeed.

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mary timmers

Vicki, I spent this past weekend with five other girlfriends I went to college with 44 and more years ago. For the past 20 years we have been doing a weekend away once a year. We get together and talk,share news, eat, shop,laugh, cry, all in one continuous thread that has spanned the last 44 years. What a gift and there is no substitute! On the Saturday night of our time toghether, we exchange gifts that we’ve bought or made. Each year I print and frame one of my original paintings and that’s my gift. This year one of the gifts (from Ann) was a small album of the past 20 years, where we stayed and a picture of our group at the time. And here’s another plus– we are all still married to our original husbands!

God has blessed my life with sisters I didn’t have in my family growing up, and I’m convinced the ones you pick are sometimes better than the ones you inherit!

Thanks for your words that struck a cord with so many of us!

Mary

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Vicki

What an incredible group of friends you have Mary… that is a wonderful tradition you have together…

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debra@dustjacket

Oh Vicki…I have tears in my eyes. I’m so happy you both got together…two totally adorable people…it’s no surprise you both complement each other so much.

big hug xoxo

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Synthia

Vicki,

Went on Sharon’s brocante tour a few weeks ago with a dear friend. We then met another girl from London. We were the 3 Silly School girls laughing, giggling and having the most incredible time. Our London gal is coming to SF in Feb and I am already fretting….what are we going to do after Feb.?!! It is amazing how you could spend 5 days with a person and you know they will be in your life forever.

Cheers to girlfriends!

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Kaaren

True friends are like diamonds precious and rare ! They are family we choose for ourselves
Thank you for your special blog today’

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Pamela

Wow Vicki, I can’t believe that this is a true story! Two people who met though blogging and became true friends. You are both very lucky and blessed. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story. It made me cherish my girlfriends more. To both of you and all the girlfriends in this world, keep on giggling, keep on shopping and keep on being beautiful!

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Vicki

The blogging world is an amazing forum… I feel I have made so many friends through blogging.. and that we share so many common interests… I wish I could meet everyone… :)

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Lee

What an absolutely wonderful post. I follow both your blog and A Gift Wrapped life and this made this post extra special. I agree entirely with all you have said about girlfriends and I think that it is wonderful that you developed this wonderful friendship with Sande.

I have been living abroad for 15 years as an expat but had to return to care for my mother 2.5 years ago. I have been on my own with my husband still overseas but 2 of my girlfriends of over 25 years have been here for me even though we didn’t email much and did loose a bit of contact over the years. These were two such close friends that whenever I came back to NZ for holidays they would be there just like I had never left. We would meet for lunch and latte’s and chat, chat, chat. One of those friends has been my “rock” while I was nursing my mother.

I went to visit Sande’s post on your trip and left a message there too. I loved her oxfords and was saying that my mother (who sadly passed away in August) has a pair in her closet that are around 60 years old but they are still in good condition as she obviously wore them then stored them away. They were going to the hospice shop but now I see they are back in fashion what better way to keep her memory going but by wearing them myself.

My mother was such a stylish woman and I am so excited about a lot of the things I have discovered in her three wardrobes full of clothes. Beautiful vintage items and some that are actually back in fashion… getting a bit off track sorry….

I love this post and would love to see what you bought in Paris too. We plan to possibly buy a place in France or Italy in the future to avoid the New Zealand winters so I will follow more closely your blog.

Thank you for sharing and thank you for such an enjoyable post. I hope that I might be able to meet up with some of the lovely bloggers I have made friends with in New Zealand…we are about as rare as the “Kiwi” over here as blogging was a bit slow to take off here.

Lee ☺

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Vicki

Lee, I am so sorry to hear of your mother’s passing and how fortunate she was to have you caring for her… I understand the problems of distance only too well…
You must cherish her shoes and all of her collections… she wold love that, after all everything we do and have … is for our children…
More about Paris on the weekend…

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Lee

Thank you so much Vicki for taking the time from your busy day to reply to my comment :). I will be keeping a lot of my mums possessions and my children have also chosen a lot of things too. It’s just sad I cannot possibly keep everything but the things I cannot keep are going to good homes where they will be cherished too.

Lee :)

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trish Murphy

Vicki what a simply lovely post! I just adore the collage of photos of your wonderful time together with your friend Sande.I agree whole heartly with you that there is something very special about the relationships that we have with our girlfriends.I have been discussing this with my husband and sister only this week.I have been very lucky to travel to Bali the last two years with three friends for 9 days (Australia being a long way from anywhere) and what a time we have had.The talking,shopping and sitting around discussing all and everything, not to mention the laughter , is so much fun and because we have known each other since out teens it is like slipping back in time.We all have husbands,and children who have left the nest and they think that it is fantastic for the Mums to do this.
Thank you for sharing your lovely trip.I was looking for the Alexander McQueen scarf in the photos! xTrish

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Millie

I got quite nostalgic when you spoke about those earlier times in our blogging lives Vicki. We were like students in the Lab at school, experimenting with all sorts of explosive combinations, but feeling secure in the knowledge that if it didn’t quite work out, our bloggie chums would forgive us, help mop up the mess & then suggest a better way of doing it.

My closest group of friends are the girls I started nursing with at the Royal Adelaide Hospital on a sizzling hot Aussie Summer’s day in February 1973. 39 years on we are still the noisiest table of ratbags in the restaurant. I’m delighted you & Sande had such a wonderful time together in Paris & Provence, you two girls are the perfect example of blogging with benefits.
Millie xx

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Renae

You said it quite perfectly about girlfriends. I can hear the giggles and know that so much was shared. You two are two of my faves in blogland and know how these friendships go as I have met several and never once was disappointed.

Great memories can never be taken away!

xx

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Vicki Lee Johnston

I do feel kind of sad reading about so many who have such dear girl friends to catch up with in person … I have had many good friends over the years but sadly due to life changes don’t have the chance to catch up as our paths never cross and we have little in common. Often times the friends you make are through work, your children and social network.
Times change … you drift apart – but I always think of them fondly and value the gift they were in my life.
I am finding a new network of friends via the internet – which I only came to for art purposes and now I have a beautiful circles of friends around the world of all ages and background.
I have already managed to meet many of them in London and Paris and hope to meet more in the future.
I think for women online – it’s easier to give more of yourself without being face to face – so it’s a heart connection rather than a superficial evaluation.
You get to the heart of the matter and invest more of yourself so that by the time you meet the superficial is superfluous.
Beautiful post Vicki xx

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Suzanne de Cornelia

Just beautiful, spot on, and made me tear up too. The very best GF of my life, of decades, I see as a magical being. A ‘girl with all the trimmings’ as my husband would say. A joy to the heart. Every second of 25-years of friendship has been a treasure, a laugh, an adventure. A few tears shared that were immediately soothed, because they were deeply understood.

Lovely, Vicki…thank you! And for the gorgeous collage too!!

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Karena

Vicki this is so poignant to me because of this last year spent in and out of the hospital. Three friends in particular (and family of course) have been here through it all!

I am so thrilled you had a week with Sande! You are both truly wonderful!

xoxo
Karena
Art by Karena

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mary jo

Just love this post Vicki. What would I do without my beautiful girlfriends? Life would just not be the same! I hope to keep growing with them with all the twists and turns life takes. Can’t wait to catch up reading your previous Paris posts! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

xo Mary Jo

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david terry

Okay….my good guess is that EVERY ONE OF YOU would really-realy enjoy Lee Smith’s novel “The Last Girls”. Lee’s quite warrantedly famous (at least in America)and lives up the street from me, oddly enough. Here’s a review/precis of “the Last Girls”:

“From Publishers Weekly
The Big Chill meets Huckleberry Finn in a moving novel inspired by a real-life episode. Thirty-six years ago, Smith (Oral History) and 15 other college “girls” sailed a raft down the Mississippi River from Kentucky to New Orleans in giddy homage to Huck. Here she reimagines that prefeminist odyssey, and then updates it, as four of the raft’s alumnae take a steamboat cruise in 1999 to recreate their river voyage and scatter the ashes of one of their own. What results is an unsentimental journey back to not-quite-halcyon college days of the mid-1960s (“periods cramps boys dates birth babies the works”) masterfully intercut with more recent stories of marriages, infidelities, health crises and career moves, all set firmly in the South. At first the characters threaten to be mere stereotypes: innocent, self-sacrificing Harriet; arty, maternal Catherine; brittle Southern belle Courtney; brassy romance novelist Anna. But Smith reveals surprising truths about each character, even as she suggests that the fate of their departed classmate-the wild, promiscuous, possibly suicidal Baby-may never be understood. The steamboat setting provides ample opportunities to skewer cruise ship tackiness and Southern kitsch, a witty counterpoint to the often troubled personal stories of the passengers. Readers who like their plots linear may be challenged by the tangle of tales, but those who agree that “there are no grown-ups,” and that there’s “no beginning and no end” to the “real story” of people’s lives, will find this tender, generous, graceful novel a delight. ”

My good guess is that many of you would enjoy this book, which is available on/at amazon.com and, presumably, many other places….

Level Best as Ever,

David Terry
http://www.davidterryart.com

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a perfect gray

vicki, thank you so much for this lovely post. what a wonderful gift you two share. I can just feel the richness of your time together…you have blessed us by sharing this. donna

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stacey snacks

Hi Vicki,
Just found you thru Sharon’s blog…….

Isn’t it fabulous meeting other bloggers and making wonderful new friends!

We spent the weekend in Normandy at Sharon’s home, and loved every minute. I never would have found her unless I had my food blog!
Your France vacation sounds wonderful, and I am happy to be a new reader to your site!

Best regards from New Jersey,
Stacey

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Francine gardner

Dear Vicki: I think you have hit a sweet special button, by so eloquently sharing your thoughts on friendship. Living abroad, I left my family behind, and am not particularly close to my US family. My girlfriends are my support system, even-though as you so beautifully described yourself, my husband of 30 years is also my best friend, my true soulmate. I could simply not envision my life without my girlfriends, most going back to 30+ years. Later on in life, I have made new friendships, some via blogging. It was such a treat spending the evening with you and Sandra in Paris…we could have talked for hours and here we are, 3 women from Australia, US and France, having so much in common, able to hold a conversation for hours… what is the likelihood of us ever meeting if it was not through blogging. When at times, i am just so busy, and i tell myself, I just cannot keep up blogging, i think of the women out there that i have met and how much they mean and add to my life.

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trina

Sounds like such a great time. I love that you met through blogging and are now such great friends. I miss the early days of blogging. It was such a different world. But I’m so grateful for the friends I’ve made and stuck with since the beginning. And it has been so fun to meet some in person. Who knows maybe one day, we will meet too! Hope you have a great week, dear!

xo . trina

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Irina

What a beautiful post, dear Vicki! A blessing and tremendous gift, indeed, is your precious friendship. As a woman, I can say that few moments are as uplifting and life-affirming as those spent with those treasured girlfriends! Sending a wink to AR here… ;)
I think this should be a published essay, I really do! :)
Brava!
And I believe I have visited Sande’s blog many moons ago…going back now!
xoxo,
– Irina

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frenchblue

Dear Vicki!
I have been so absent on my blogging and just saw you and Sande were together in Paris and in your beautiful home:)) My heart sings with the joy you both lived and breathed together each moment. Your post is magically written and so well written. At the end, I thought Vicki should be a writer, no Vicki should write a book…then I thought Vicki HAS WRITTEN MANY BOOKS! You are Amazing! This post should be a MOVIE! Every woman in the world would line up… Paris, Provence, Girltime but most or all LOVE:)
Thank you for sharing such taking me for a walk through your blooming garden of friendship~ I will carry this post with me in my heart forever.xxx’s

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Lisa Porter

Dear Vicki,
Your words are beautiful and oh so very true.
You and Sande are both women with such repose. I bet with all the fun filled days and evenings of long conversation, you both found time to be quiet and listen so as to hold on tightly to every moment.
I like to call these – chances of a lifetime.
Thank you so much Vicki for sharing them with us.
XO Lisa

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Janette@The2Seasons

I just discovered your blog. We were in France at the same time. We spent the first two weeks bicycling in Burgundy, and then I spent a week solo in Paris. What fun! Last year we cycled from the top to the bottom of France. It was grueling but fantastic, and then I spent 8 days solo there. I love to be alone in Paris. I can take it all in without any distractions.

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French Basketeer

Warms my heart to think of you two enjoying autumn days together in Paris…and Saint Remy…the best of both worlds…I absolutely cherish my close network of girlfriends, they are core to our support, aren’t they? Thanks for the lovely post.

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gabi

Such wonderous words Vicki!
I lost my dearest girlfriend Ellen many years ago now…and still miss her as though it were yesterday. I even sometimes imagine that if she were still alive she would think this of this or that of that. I imagine her standing behind me looking into the mirror of a dress shop laughing at what I’d chosen to try on…us both cracking up.
Oh yes the comfort of a truly genuine girlfriend.
Thank you Vicki…you helped me have a little weep…and that’s a good thing. xx Gabi

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