Text Me When You Get Home: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship by Kayleen Schaefer
Published by Penguin Audio
Genres: Book Clubs, Essays, History, Humor, Non-fiction
Today is the last of my summer nonfiction reviews, but it’s a bit unusual. It’s only partially a review of Text Me When You Get Home and mostly a rumination on all the thoughts the book brought me. Which is kind of wonderful, right? When you read a book and it fills you with good memories and positive emotions? It’s a bit of a rarity in entertainment these days, but is one of the most beautiful effects of reading.
The subtitle of Text Me is: The Evolution and Triumph of Modern Female Friendship which is a bit lofty for what the book covers. There is historical perspective about the unfounded beliefs (going all the way back to the Greeks) that women didn’t possess the physical and psychological depths necessary for friendship. Given the gender bias that permeates world history this is a toss-away, right up there with women being witches. Who listens or cares? However, on a cultural level I appreciate that author Kayleen Schaefer found the origins of the insidious and idiotic term “cat fight”. Apparently, it came into being in the 1850s when a writer used it to describe disagreements between Mormon sister wives. Super. Time to let it go, maybe?
Schaefer weaves her own personal experiences through Text Me with interviews and writings of well-known women. She considers herself a guys’ girl. At the same time, she follows the mindset of the times, believing that marriage is the main goal in a woman’s life. Until she doesn’t. Like anyone gathering life experience, Schaefer comes to realize that women are as nuanced and deep as she believes herself to be. She abandons the marriage credo and begins devoting that energy into growing her friendships.
The specifics of the history of female friendship are not where the value lies in Text Me. Rather its Schaefer’s own exploration of friendship that rings true and will evoke memories and provoke thought from the reader. For me, it was wanting to professionally align myself with men to succeed while still very much adhering to traditional personal beliefs. Neither worked out as planned, but both left me with a wide-ranging circle of friends—even after I got married. I attribute this to my mother who has always had lots of friends. It was an accepted fact that on birthdays and at Christmas she got more cards than any of us. She worked hard at these friendships and instilled the same belief in me.
All of this is to say: Read or listen to Text Me When You Get Home. You’ll smile and be reminded of how, through all the phases of life, if you’re lucky, there have been terrific women supporting you. I’m not going to call them out by name but I have a handful of fabulous, quirky, strong, empathetic, funny-as-hell women I rely on in my life today. They are my sanity in these toxic times. They go back to a woman who knew me as a girl (and still hung around!) to new friendships that are springing up in the midst of COVID isolation. I treasure them all and hold them as some of the most precious relationships in my life. This is a bittersweet lesson as I won’t be face-to-face with any of them in the near future, but how much worse would it be to not know them at all? So, even if a hug isn’t possible, reach out to a friend today. Share the joy that is women and friendship.
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