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Tribute: the Brunette Mafia and the bottomless well of goodness that is female friendship

Friday, September 21, 2007 by Marianne Elliott

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Ravens, aka The Brunette Mafia. New Years, 2003. Note: some VIP and honorary Ravens not present

Yesterday morning I sat down to write my way across a few empty pages and found the phrase "what I crave…" taking it's place at the top of the page. Here is the first thing that came to my pen "the company of women who are emotionally honest, pursuing their dreams, generous with love and lots of fun."

Then I went on to write a two page script for a perfect fantasy day in Wellington with my Ravens. The women in the photo above have seen me, and each other, through heart break and grief. We've wrapped each other up in blankets when the world came tumbling down and popped over to check on the tissue, chocolate and red wine supplies when it was a less tragic but still painful loss.

We've toasted each other's successes – opening nights of plays and of movies, launches of novels (yep, pretty damn talented bunch of women my Ravens). We've spent many, many long evenings at a table near the fireplace a the Horn, talking the world into shape over Sunday roast and sherry.

These are the women who made a party out of the launch of the "New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights". It was, hands down, the least hip publication of the year but it was also the fruit of four years of my hard labour and they brought gifts and toasted me with champagne as though I had just published an awarding winning novel (like our Rachael actually did).

We've been to music festivals and on roadtrips, had beach holidays in Coromandel and in Parapara. Winter weekends at Wharekauhau (and one unforgettable gourmet extravaganza there too). They've convinced me to listen to rock music again, and at least one of them shares my downbeat groove. Miss Adams no one can make a playlist that says holiday to me as well as you can. Speaking of playlists, we've done the Wellington to Auckland drive home for the holiday, in convoy. Stopping in Taupo for last minute Christmas shopping and at my parents farm for cold drinks.

One memorable breakfast at Nikau went from Chocolate Pops and coffee through Kedgeree and Rose back to Chocolate Pops and coffee in the course of only six hours. That's how much we can talk. And laugh. And eat. And drink. I think we may each have had a crush on one beautiful bar owner at some point over the years. Was anyone exempt from the Sam-magic? Honestly? Maybe Lou…

We've had babies, and we've had miscarriages. Some of us are walking the fertility journey. There have been weddings and funerals. I have always known that if disater strikes, as it unfortunately does sometimes, I could wrap myself up in these women and know I would survive.

These women are emotionally honest, pursuing their dreams, generous with their love and LOTS of fun. I guess I've been craving a bit more of them in my life.

But something a little bit magic happened today. After I wrote to the otherside of my craving and had a little cry about the depth of my desire from some girl-time, I felt cleansed and strengthened just by the calling up of the image of my Brunette Mafia. With them behind me, I set out into my day.

Then I had a brain wave. I thought occured to me which had somehow not occured to me before. It was such a simple little thing, involving flying out of Afghanistan in the opposite direction to the usual when I leave for my next RnR. But this little thing suddenly was so obviously right. It will take me right into the path of one of the newest women in my wonderful world. When I emailed her to say "what do you think" she not only said YES YES YES (thank you! only my niece and nephews greet me with more enthusiasm, it made me smile from ear to ear) but also – at the very same time as I now plan to fly into her neighbourhood there will be another wonderful, soulful, brave, generous, funny woman there. Another someone I think I've been meant to meet.

So there you have it. I craved it. I wrote it there in my journal – and then I realised I could make it happen. Heck, if that's what it takes then I'm writing more of my dreams out in those magic morning moments.

More on that tomorrow. Tonight, alone here in my room in Ghor, I toast my Ravens and all my wonderful new friends in the blog world (I only have Pepsi, so I toast you with Pepsi, but next I meet you in person it will be for real – red wine or champagne or bust).


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16 Responses to "Tribute: the Brunette Mafia and the bottomless well of goodness that is female friendship"

  1. cath says:

    oh, i know just how you feel!!! craving the joyful experience of being with good good friends… friends with whom you share experiences and history, and passions… but who you can constantly learn more about and share more with. there’s nothing quite like good friends is there!!
    i’m so pleased that you have the opportunity to see good friends – old and new – during your RnR time. what a boost to the soul it provides! i’m often suprised at how rejuvinated i can feel after seeing friends…

  2. Alex says:

    Oh! sigh! I hope that soon it gets to be my turn. I’m so disappointed I missed my window! : ( This post really touched me as I have been dwelling so much on the very subject of friendships. As you know, I have left my own ravens behind too (or rather not behind… just far away). I miss that pact, that honesty and bond that are timeless, women that want nothing but your well being, that get you, that are after their dreams and committed to a juicier life full of magic moments. Sigh! Our time will come… I’m saying YES YES YES to that! xooxx

  3. gitamann says:

    Jeez Frida… Make a gal cry on a Friday morn!! It’s one of “those” days in Wellington today. Clear, blue, 18 degrees, and still, oh so still. A South Coast kinda day. One of those days that make this city make sense.

  4. Jeni says:

    Somehow you always write not only exactly what YOU need to read, but also what I needed to read. I think I’ve been craving more girlfriend time for years. Sometimes life surrounds us with friends and other times they are far away or change. Friends like that can make a huge difference in the quality of life.
    Oh, and I love the power of writing to manifest what we need and want. It is a tool that has always worked for me, too.
    Cheers to you, too, and the other friends I have yet to meet!

  5. tiny noises says:

    Ravens!! I love it! You know, I was just out with some of my girlies, realizing again how lucky I am and then I come home and read your post and am smiling from ear to ear. Don’t you ever feel sorry for boys sometimes? For never really knowing the power of a clan of Ravens?

  6. sassy says:

    Beautiful post. And for the meet-up, well, sounds fun !

  7. you do often wonder why people are put into your life, when really, we should just enjoy interacting with them and be entirely grateful for them, and nuggets of growth and self will be found. i so often want to give so much, especially those i feel such a connection with.. I need to learn how to similarly give to myself. ben’s sister ellie has been here the past week and it has been wonderful to spend time with her, give to her, be given to, gain strength and somehow, a new sister! may you find something similar in your up-coming journey!

  8. Wine Secretary - Brunette Mafia says:

    Cheers! I love you too

  9. susanna says:

    Oh, I sooooo hear you, Frida! We need our girlfriends, don’t we? They add such an extra depth to our lives. I’m so glad that you have such amazing women in your life – the Ravens sound like a hoot! And I’m glad that you will be seeing a good old friend during your next trip along with someone new who will make you smile and laugh. 🙂

  10. Mardougrrl says:

    *sniff* This is a dream of mine too…having this kind of close knit female sisterhood in my life. I have lots of wonderful friends, but I want us to be a COLLECTIVE LOL. I think I need to write it down, write it down, and make it happen. 🙂 Thanks, as always for the inspiration! xoxo, M

  11. HiK says:

    Yet another inspiring post that warms and refreshes my heart. Thank you.

  12. liz elayne says:

    “the company of woman who are emotionally honest”
    this is something i have been thinking so much about lately…and craving it is indeed the word…i am going to borrow that phrase as a prompt i think (i crave) as it is so powerful.
    i seem to be running in to some folks who seem like they are being emotionally honest only to realize that maybe they can’t be that way with me (or themselves…who am i to know?) and that invites some pretty intense internal questioning, at least for me. wondering why i seem to attract that at times etc. anyway, it feel very powerful to be acknowledging what i want to bring into my life more. thank you for articulating this to invite me to think about it in other ways as well.
    blessings to you,

  13. Rachael King says:

    Typing this with tears in my eyes. What a lot we have been through, you are so right, now scattered around the country and the globe. How very very lucky we are. And I miss you loads! xx

  14. claire says:

    Love that picture. I could use some more ravens in my life.

  15. Swirly says:

    Your entry is making me weepy. I SO look forward to giving you a big hug. Did I mention YES YES YES??!

  16. i’m not sure how i missed this…
    or what led me here tonight…
    but first thing tomorrow i’m going to buy myself a little wish book…
    and write about how i dream of meeting the lovely you…
    face to face. hug to hug.
    thinking of you,

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