It was around two years ago that I first tried explaining to someone the joy of having a girlfriend. You can tell them anything, I explained. And by "anything", I honestly didn't mean sex or masturbation. These are sort of given, I'm sure men do that with their male friends too; and I don't think there is a true girlfriend if she doesn't know how and when you last made out with someone. I meant the little things, like what annoys you about purple post-its, or the travails of finding the perfect risotto, or obsessing about a side character in the last book you read.
Obviously, there is some physical intimacy. Most women I know aren't okay with being completely naked in front of other women. Especially if you live with them, whether in a flat or in a hostel, these lines become exceedingly clear. I find that most women have all sorts of crazy rules about who should see them naked and how, whether they're okay with being completely naked in front of other women, public showers, sleeve lengths, trouser lengths, skirt lengths, fits of pants, I could go on and on.
The nature of physical intimacy with a girlfriend is completely different from any other kind of physical intimacy I know. I've shared a bed with two women for different periods of time in a year. On some mornings, we'd wake up absolutely tangled up in each other. On some nights, we'd cuddle into one or the other. On most nights, because we'd all have different sleep cycles, we'd all have the bed to ourselves because the room would be otherwise empty. There is a kind of physical comfort that comes with having girlfriends, sharing spaces, menstruation cycles, bags, clothes, shoes, food, shampoos, sanitary napkins, tampons, deodorants, stuff. I don't think I know of really any other relationship that gives me this kind of comfort.
But more significant than the physical intimacy, is a sort of emotional and social intimacy that one has with one's girlfriends. I consider myself quite lucky to have several girlfriends, all of whom share their lives with me most intimately. (Some of them share them too intimately for my comfort. For the record, if you are going to talk to me from the bathroom, may be you can let me know after you flush.) I know about aunties in offices who steal their lunch everyday, I know about the dress they really want to fit into if only they managed to lose some weight, I know about stuff strangers have said to them passingly that have changed the way they see themselves.
Most of my girlfriends live in a different city, continent, timezone, whatever, right now; so I've had email threads spanning several hundreds about mundane things and important things. I receive ten emails a day on an average, about puppies on roads or the food they're eating or the weather in their city. I've sent tons and tons of emails about similarly random stuff, and these really make our day. "Reply All" really is a default setting on gmail for most of us. We may not be clued in to our work crap, or issues we're having with our partners, but we definitely know what the others are having for lunch. We all throw tantrums and bicker and bitch and love and hate, all on international conference phone calls or skype or google chat. (Really, google chat changed our lives.)
And with all this, they're the most indispensable part of my life!
Here's to having girl friends. :)