My niece posted a blurb today ruminating about the a straight woman in her office using the term "girlfriends" to describe her friends. Another person posted - why not just use the term "friend", why separate into genders? As someone growing up in the 70's I can answer that question. Because to us, the terms friend and girlfriend do not separate genders, but the degree of friendship you have. To me a friend is someone you work with and sometimes go out to lunch with. Someone that goes to the same gym with you at the same time, you get the machines next to each and yak away while banking those miles on the treadmill. Some you see or someone you share an interest with. That, is a friend.
A girlfriend - she is a forever thing. No matter how many years or miles between you, she is forever. You can have more than one - I have 3 and always will. These are the people that can see you in your underwear and will never make a comment. That you've known since forever, and maybe a little longer. Kim and I spent many hours plotting our apartment in NYC, I would write for a living, she would paint. We were together constantly, in trouble and out - to this day if I utter the phrase "My twin globes of pleasure" she can recall exactly what I was reading when I said that, how wasted we were and how we laughed til we couldn't breath. Or the afternoon I discovered I could not only wear Liz's bra backwards but it looked like I had water wings and she said she was going to kill me, but was as amused as I was. The summers Nancy and I spent cleaning houses for a living - it was hard but seriously, you get to talk for hours on end and get paid for it? Will never happen again. If one of us had a grudge or hated someone for some bizarre reason there was an unspoken rule the rest of the crew would back you up - didn't have to make sense, you didn't even have to be right, it was group hate as long as you wanted.
In high school when things got bad, when I could not control the things I had kept a lid on for so long that a massive amount of therapy and a stint in a group home was needed, when I hit the bottom and didn't bounce, Liz and Kim were there, no matter what - they knew I would recover. And I did - they know everything about me and how far I've come. Nancy came along a little bit later, but she fit in just fine and still does. A girlfriend thinks about you - calls, emails and stays in touch because you will always be connected. The years we spent together, the weekends we slept over each other's houses in a rotation, the beach, learning to drive, Miller 40s and Cheetos. Anyone can fit the definition of friend, few however earn the title Girlfriend.