tribe · turning 50

It takes a tribe, not a village

I’m convinced that whomever came up with the saying “it takes a village” did not ever get to experience the difference between a village and a tribe. I’m not being literal here; most of us don’t ever really experience either of these on a literal level.

Nowadays, both of these terms are vernacular for “the group we surround ourselves with while living life together.” I prefer tribe because it sounds more like family. We can live in a village and never even know our neighbors, but our tribe? We know them. We get to choose them. We’ve probably shared a battle or two together.

I’ve had best friends since as long as I can remember. In elementary school, my best friend was named Kathy and I used to giggle every time I called her on the phone because I got to say, “this is Kathy, may I speak to Kathy please?” Also, she had cute older brothers. These are important things when you’re 12.

My best friend throughout junior high and high school was Dotty. We shared our secret crushes, a love for lip gloss, rainbows & butterflies, playing jacks and Boy George. We were best friends when I fell for my first true love. Sadly, attending different high schools and then colleges, separated us. We recently found each other on Facebook so it’s been fun to reconnect.

My best friend in college was Marie. It’s odd to look back at how these relationships progress as life gets more difficult. It’s doubtful I could have been convinced that anything was more important or life-changing than not being allowed to sleep over Kathy’s house on any given Friday night or go to the Shaun Cassidy concert with Dotty when I was 13. But college stuff? Wow. Those are the prep-work years for real life. Time management. Stress management. Freedom management.

During my 20’s and even my 30’s, we get so focused on getting ahead in our careers and keeping the bills paid and then kids come and I don’t feel like I had time for real friends. I certainly had a group of women from church who I “did life with,” but it felt more like play dates for the kids that tribal meetings. Also, there is way too much cattiness sometimes when we’re raising the tiny humans through that stage (but that’s another blog for another day). Brian and I moved from here to there to here again and life was a blur.

I didn’t like turning 40. Forty is hard. Generally, you’re in the thick of it. Your marriage (if you’re still married) is not what it used to be because…well, you’re tired. Your kids (if you’ve got them) are HARD and…well, you’re tired. And your body? That’s tired, too.

That was the time in my life was when I really began to build those friendships that will see you through the dirty. Those “the kids are making you cry and your husband is making you want to throw things and you can’t find a pair of jeans that don’t make your butt look big, but you still need chocolate” friends. They have seen me through moving away from where I raised my kids and created a life for 20 years. They have seen me through taking both of my kids to college and (gasp) leaving them there in those awful, tiny, dingy dorm rooms. They have seen me through the unexpected death of my father and are still walking with me through…the stuff. They’re my tribe. We’ve eaten together. We’ve laughed and cried together. We’ve shared the battle celebrations and the defeats.

I’m turning 50 next month. Fifty. The Big 5-0. However you say it, it’s still there. Looming. Waiting with breathless anticipation of whether I will seize it or kick it into a corner and pretend we never met. But now I’m ready.

I’m ready for 50 because finally, I’ve got my tribe together.

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