Looking Inward: An Ode to Girlfriends Everywhere
by Emily Russell
Sun Star Columnist
Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and thank goodness for that. In the weeks leading up to the holiday, I was quickly overwhelmed by commercials luring men into purchasing products or setting reservations for the perfect compliment to their apparently expectant girlfriends. I consider myself lucky that the radio is the only form of public media I ingest daily, as any additional forms of advertising would have sent me into a rage.
Reflecting on my own relationship status, I recently realized that I haven’t been single for Valentine’s Day in four years, as my two previous relationships ended and began only months apart. This year, Valentine’s Day marks the one-month anniversary of the end of the most beautiful, blissful and rewarding relationship of my life. No man was buying me flowers or taking me out to dinner this year. Instead, I had to ignite my own feelings of confidence and self-worth, something I haven’t nailed down quite yet. Thankfully, I’ve got girlfriends for that.
Being newly single, and not by choice, is an overwhelming and eye-opening experience. Life without a life partner forces you to refresh your appreciation for those who have chosen to remain by your side through hours of tears, sobs and snot. And trust me, I had plenty of that to offer up this Valentine’s Day. But when the sobbing subsided, who spent all afternoon with me while my tear ducts filled back up and the puffiness went away? My girlfriends. My girlfriends have taken me out for Thai food, coffee dates and countless pints of beer. My girlfriends have gone out for skis that I normally would have gone on with my ex-boyfriend. They’ve kept me company without asking, spending hours by my side in this trying time.
Not only do I have girlfriends throughout Fairbanks, I also have girlfriends in Anchorage, all throughout the Lower-48 and as far away as Denmark, Germany, Brazil and Grenada. Long-distance relationships with my own girlfriends have never been a struggle for me, thanks in large part to their persisting love and support. My sister, the greatest girlfriend to have ever lived, Skyped me from a tiny island in the Caribbean nearly every day for the first few weeks, quickly filling the hole in my life that formed just one month ago. Cousins, college friends and my childhood best friend have all picked me up through texts, Skype sessions and phone calls.
Although those incessant commercials leading up to Valentine’s Day left me feeling embarrassingly lonely and vulnerable, they also served as a reminder to celebrate my own girlfriends. A few of us gathered for a Galentines Day celebration on the Friday before the holiday. We went for a ski followed by a yoga class, shared a pitcher of beer and a bottle of champagne and at the end of the night we all walked home together. Although no man can call me his girlfriend, I hope that there are women in Fairbanks and around the world that consider me among their own group of girlfriends.