23.2.11

Lady Party with Beth Edwards

I'm so excited to be sharing a project I've been working on for the past month.


I remember being 14, angry and frustrated, and escaping everyday into an obsessive world where my friends and I were adventurous, verging on giddy danger, and always coming out alive. We had smeared lipstick and wrote long, detailed "notes" to each other, passed like contraband between classes (because we weren't gutsy enough to cut a class). Where does that feeling go? Where do those women go?

I asked the movers and shakers in my world about the female relationships that have inspired them, particularly during their teenage years. I was met with all sorts of responses: best friends, family members, rock stars and women in coffee shops that they never actually spoke to. I was totally intrigued and began digging.

I've written about Beth Edwards before. She's the documentary phenom behind The Yup'ik Way, which will be screened at festivals in Germany in March, and Vancouver in April (it's already made it's way into festivals in England, and is currently being shown by Yup'ik groups). Beth was the first friend I made in Los Angeles, and she explored the city with me. We dyed hair, hiked in the Hollywood hills, watched Bollywood movies, and went on yogurt dates. She now lives in Indiana, where she's currently working on her pet project, Boys Don't Date Girls With Dead Mothers.



What is the name of your lady?
Tiffany Winburn.

How did she come into your life?
It was my freshman year of high school, I was 14. I remember my religion teacher Ms. Polansky mentioning that Tiffany didn't have any friends in the area because she had just moved here from California. I asked her to sit with me at lunch and made her be my friend.


Were there challenging events in your life that you were struggling with, that she helped you to understand or clarified for you?

Just before I met her, my mother had died, so I was a mess. I also had a lot going on with my father and

his new girlfriend. Dad was an alcoholic and started dating this woman like a month after my mom
died. Not a great time in my life. Tiffany helped by getting me out of the house, always being available to talk, listening and not judging. She always defended me and hated it when I put myself down.

Did you know right away that she would have an impact?

No, I didn't know we would have such a great friendship. I thought I was being nice, helping the new girl, but we became great friends.

What was the characteristic that drew you to her?
She was very sure of herself and so self-aware. I thought this was remarkable at 14, to have that much self-confidence. I don’t think I still have that, but she knew exactly who she way and wasn’t afraid of
showing it in anyway.

Did you two become friends or was distance imperative to her influence on you?
We were great friends. However, distance did become a part of our relationship. Tiffany’s father took a job as an ambassador and she moved just after freshman year of high school, but we stayed friends
and visited each other a great deal.

How did your relationship evolve?
I just remember us being instantly close friends. I could be wrong, it could have taken us a bit. I think Tiffany mentioned once about how she didn’t want to make any friends because she knew they weren’t
going to be in town long, but I made her be my friend.

Where is she now? What is she doing?
She is now a dentist living in San Antonio, TX. She has been married for ten years, but doesn’t have any children yet.

In what ways, specifically, did she influence or guide you?
Tiffany for many years was like my other half. She was my best friend soul mate. I could always be completely myself when I was with her. There was never a need to hide anything or pretend to be something else. She was very special in my life during high school.

Was there ever a point that the relationship soured?
I went to see her in Mexico on Christmas break of our senior year in high school. She had started dating this man Raul. I didn’t like him, at all, there was just something about him I couldn’t explain,
but I didn’t like. I spoke with some of her friends there and they said he spoke about her as though she was an object, the hot blonde white American girl on his arm. I told Tiffany this, she said I misunderstood the situation, we agreed to disagree. When she decided to go to college back in the US, Raul went with her. We grew apart in college, she was living in Las Vegas, married Raul while still in
college, and I was at Indiana University. I didn’t speak to her again until 2007 when I found her on Facebook. We aren’t as close as we were, but we’re friendly and I know what’s going on in her world.

How did you actively try to be like her?
To me, she was fearless. She would do anything, say anything, and not give a damn what people thought of her… in a very classy way though. I tried to be like that as well. Also I loved her clothes and wish
they made them in my size.

Where you ever repulsed by her, and what triggered that feeling? How long did it last?

No, not repulsed. She could be abrasive, but actually that was part of her charm. I was angry with her, for a while, about the wrong choices I thought she was making. Obviously though I was very wrong, she has been married to the man for 10 years. At that time I thought I was so right about so many things, I’m glad no one listened to me.


I just wanted her to be happy and she is. She defines her happiness, not me.

Is she still in your life, and in what capacity?
She is in my life, in a much more quiet way. I know that if I needed her, she would be there for me. When I was younger I couldn’t picture my life without her. I thought we would be in constant contact and
she would be the Godmother of my children. However, that isn’t our relationship now. It is still very special though and doesn’t take away from our relationship. She was an amazing friend to me at a time
when I really needed her and for that I will be forever grateful.


She is and always has been an amazing woman.


****

Big thanks to Beth for sharing. If you'd like to share your Shero, send me an email and let's Lady Party. xoxo

3 comments:

Blue said...

I miss writing long notes to my girlfriends in math class.

Aurora said...

I do too. They were the best.

djstephaniebell said...

omg i totes try to bring it back. i write to a few girlfriends and mail letters. because i miss it.