Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Finding My Tribe

Finding My Tribe
For a long time I had been in search of a tribe.  I found that tribe in a black box theatre on the 2nd floor of a strip club on 42nd Street in New York: a group of motivated women all trying to make our way as theatre artists.  We were the real women of Sex and the City  – working multiple jobs and living in cramped apartments.  There were no Jimmy Choo’s in our closets.

In the beginning there were six of us; although, we added to the fold.  We started getting together once a month, or so.  Sometimes we met at a restaurant, but we usually found ourselves crowded into someone’s apartment sitting on the floor and eating out of take-out boxes.  We talked about relationships, auditions, grad school, breakups and breakdowns.  We arrived en-mass to support each others artistic endeavors. 

Smart, talented, funny and kind, these women have taught me what it means to be a friend. 

When my mother knew that her life was coming to an end, she sent out an email telling everyone that she planned to go out bathed in hot fudge.  I traveled home to be with her during that final month.  Shortly after I got home, packages began arriving at our house.  Packages filled with jars and jars of hot fudge.  No note.  When I called one of the ladies to see if she knew anything about our bounty she said, “Well, if you’re going to go out bathed in hot fudge, you’re going to need more than one jar.”  It was the greatest act of friendship I had ever experienced.

Turning 30 
My mother had set my 30th birthday as a goal, but it was clear she wasn’t going to make it that long.  I informed her that dying on my 30th birthday would make this unwelcome milestone even worse.  I told her that I was going to be ok, but mothers, even when they are dying, still worry. To assure her of this fact, I set out to plan my 30th birthday.  I rented out the Sheila Kelly S Factor Studio in New York, where my friends and I would gather for a private pole-dancing class.  If I couldn’t laugh while watching my friends swinging around a stripper pole, then all hope was lost.   Afterward, we gathered in the back room at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame for dinner.  And I put it all on her credit card.  Knowing that I was going to be surrounded by laughter and the people I loved was all she needed. 

The Understudy 
There have been grad school graduations, weddings, babies, struggles to have babies, Broadway openings, and a Tony nomination.  But there hasn’t been any drama.  There is no pretense, no pressure.  In the company of these women I never feel self-conscious about myself as a person, an artist, or as a parent.  They have taught me how to step outside of myself and feel the joy of their successes as if they were my own.

These are the friends we all need in our lives.  I’m the only child of an only child.  I have spent my life gathering people around me to build a family that extends beyond blood.  These women - Johanna, Kathleen, Anika, Kate, Hazel, Brittney and Amy - have become my sisters.  Now that I am a parent, they are the women who I look to be to my understudy, so in those moments when I might not be able to perform they can step in and offer my daughter the guidance she needs, and I can trust that they will guide her well.  

Once again, we met at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.  There were margaritas and cupcakes, stories and laughter.  Oh, the laughter!  Social media has given us a false sense of closeness, but in the backroom of the Cowgirl we were able to pull the mismatched couches together, and look at one another face to face.  We picked up right where we left off.  True friendship allows you to do that. 


  1. You win quote of the day...maybe the year! “If you’re going to go out bathed in hot fudge, you’re going to need more than one jar!” Thank you for the touching post. Just beautiful.

    1. I appreciate you taking the time to read my work! Thank you.

  2. Wow. I could not love this post more. Can't wait to follow along!!

  3. Love the idea of gathering like minded people around you to be like family to each other, and to have fun together too!

  4. Congrats on the blog! I too struggle with my "tribe" but sometimes smaller is best!

  5. I love this idea of a tribe! I think as women especially we hunger for that tribe mentality that taught previous generations so much about life and ourselves. @KiddoKorner

  6. Love this, and you, Elyzabeth Wilder. ❤️