After almost ten years of writing for Forsyth Woman magazine, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting, interviewing and sharing the stories of local businesses, people, and charities that make our community a great place to live. But some of the best stories are ones no one will ever know or read because they happen one night a month when I have the privilege to meet and take photos of the ladies who attend Girls’ Night Out (GNO).
For the past seven years, Forsyth Woman magazine has partnered with local restaurants for GNO, a time of great food, good friends, and prizes. As the ladies enjoy their evening, I visit and ask to take their pictures. While most of the time I am welcome, sometimes my request is met with an “I really don’t like to have my picture taken.” That is completely fine, but most ladies love to get their photo taken, and they all make similar comments: “Wait a minute, I need to put my lips on!” or “Do I have anything in my teeth?” and “Can you possibly take 10 pounds off of me in the photo before you put it in the magazine?” These are the most common things I hear and, believe me, I know the importance of having your lips on and not having spinach in your teeth, so I always oblige (well, except for the 10 pounds request – I have no control over that one). Then there are those ladies who share a bit of their lives with me, often leading to a hug, a smile and sometimes, even a few tears.
One group of ladies in their mid-60s were excited to have a friend with them who hadn’t been out in a while, so they were eager to get their photo taken. After the photo, one lady took my hand and said, “I haven’t been out very much in a few months. My husband passed away…he was my best friend and I really haven’t felt like getting out. My friends insisted that I come with them tonight, and I’m glad I did. I haven’t laughed in a long time, and I thank you for coming to our table.” I gave her a hug and cried, because no one cries alone with me around.
Then there were the ladies who were obviously celebrating something as I approached the table. They answered, “Yes!” to the photo taking before I even had the chance to ask. One lady had a wrap on her head, and all her friends were huddled around her. Once the photo was taken, the woman with her head in a wrap touched my arm and said, “I finished my chemo today for breast cancer, and my friends brought me out to celebrate. I might not feel like going out tomorrow because the chemo can make me sick, but I hope to have beaten cancer, so we are celebrating.” Another hug with tears followed.
Then you have those ladies who, with all their commitments to their families, just don’t get to see each other very much. Once I walked up to a table full of chatty women and before I could ask about taking a photo, I heard their story. “We all went to college together many years ago and have been talking about getting together and catching up, but this is the first time we could all meet at the same place. We are going to try and do this every month because life is short and you never know. One of our friends would’ve been here, but she was diagnosed with cancer and we lost her before we could all get together. We’re here celebrating her life.”
Those are just a few of the great stories shared with me. Through all the wonderful ladies I’ve met in the seven years of GNO, I have learned a few things about women. First, we like our photos taken, but we must have our lips on; second, we love our time with our friends, catching up on life over good food; and third, we know these moments will go by quickly, so we need to appreciate the good times and celebrate life, because our friends are there for us like no one else will be. So, ladies, I will continue to come by and visit with you all, and you will hear “May I take your picture?” And you will know that your stories are heard and tucked away in my memory, and I appreciate each one of you.