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  • Writer's pictureSandy J. Green


Several months ago, an email chain began circulating amongst some of my closest girlfriends. A group of six women that I’ve known for years; we all lived in New York City at the same time and have shared monthly potluck dinners, vacations around the world, weekends in the Hamptons and North Fork, and countless picnics in Central Park together. These are the kind of friends that I don’t need to see or talk to every day to know that they’ll always be there for me, and vice versa. And that’s a good thing because as the years have gone by and our lives have gotten more complicated, it’s become harder and harder to get together as a group.

So it was an exciting moment when I got the email to plan the celebration of Alyssa’s 35th birthday. Amazingly, we were almost all free on the same date and decided to do one of our favorite activities - a big potluck dinner. It would be a chance to eat delicious homemade food, see Alyssa’s new apartment in Hoboken, and drink a lot of wine.

Before I go on, I need to pause for a moment to tell you about our famed potluck dinners. The themed potluck was a tradition we started almost 7 years ago. Every month, we would meet at someone’s apartment and pick a theme - Italian, Peruvian, Turkish, Korean - for over 50 dinners, we covered it all! I was admittedly the weak link in the cooking, but the other ladies made up for my shortcomings by being amazing chefs. (I once attempted to make sesame cookies and after hours of cooking, could not figure out why they were still raw. I brought my raw cookies to dinner and the girls quickly pointed out that the recipe was in Celsius and I had been baking the cookies at 150F. It had never occurred to me that this was an unreasonable temperature for baking cookies…) Anyway, for many years, I looked forward to these dinners every month, despite my terrible skills in the kitchen. But life moves forward, as it tends to do, and relationships, kids, and moving out of the city made it difficult to continue the monthly tradition with regularity. So now the potluck has become a special event - reserved for special occasions and get-togethers. And we were all looking forward to celebrating Alyssa’s big birthday.

But as I mentioned, life sometimes gets in the way and the day before the party, Alyssa texted us to say that her husband was sick. Not just man-cold sick, unfortunately, but actual stuck in bed and contagious sick. So we had a few options - we could try to reschedule (which we knew would be near impossible), we could brave Alyssa’s apartment and hope that we wouldn’t catch anything, or we could go out to a restaurant. There was a caveat to the restaurant though - Alyssa’s 2.5 year old daughter, Liat, would have to join us. And therefore; dinner needed to be at 5:30 and at a kid friendly restaurant. This is how we came to celebrate Alyssa’s 35th birthday at 5:30pm at the Cheesecake Factory in the Jersey City Mall.

Was it glamorous? No. Did we laugh at what the marching of time had turned us into? Yup. Did we have a great time? Yes, we did. We had a really great time. Liat was in a good mood - having refused to put on real clothes, she showed up in her pajamas. She charmed us with her toddler humor, ate almost none of the food that was actually ordered for her, and even allowed us to have some adult conversation. Not everyone around the table had kids - the six of us are all in different stages of life, jobs, relationships, and family. But real friends, the friends that are worth keeping around, don’t mind if you have to bring your toddler to dinner. They not only don’t mind a last minute change in plans - they make you feel like it’s the easiest thing in the world.

I’ve often heard people talk about losing friends when you have kids. And that’s true in a lot of situations. Everything in your life changes after kids and it’s simply not possible to prioritize your girlfriends the way you once did. It makes sense that some of those relationship will fade away - that is certainly the case with some of my pre-Avi relationships. But keep your eyes open for those friends who won’t let you fade away and hold on to them the best you can. Text them every once in awhile. When you’re able to, make them a priority. These are the girlfriends that will be there for you through thick and thin and we all need a few friends like that.

I’m so grateful for this beautiful group of friends.

And Happy Birthday, Lys!

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