As I passed the Lake Harriet swimming beach on my bike ride today, memories of Jr. High summers came flooding back to me. School’s out and that’s prime time for flirting with boys. There they were today, a group of teenage girls in bikinis crowded on the diving platform with a few lucky boys. Even in that passing second, I could tell the girls were all competing for the affections of those hotties. I know because that was me back in the day.

I wanted to shout out to those girls, “He’s never going to like you the way that you want him to!” But then I thought, Do I really want to spoil it for them? No. They don’t really need to know that those boys won’t catch up to them in maturity for a few more years.

​Of course I rarely “got the guy” back then, but it was sure fun trying. Looking back on it, I’m struck by how much we girls bonded over our quest for boys. My girlfriends and I spent hours and hours talking about boys, speculating on our chances of landing a boyfriend for the summer. We analyzed everything a boy said and did—what did he really mean by that? Does he like me?

Even though all our social energy was devoted to flirting with boys, I can see now that it was prime girlfriend time. We went shopping together to find cute outfits to wear and then went to where we hoped our guys were hanging out—the beach was a major attraction. Sometimes it was a bust and they weren’t there, but we had fun anyway. Too bad I didn’t realize that was enough. I didn’t realize that the sisterhood of friendship was more important.

My dream of finding a summer boyfriend didn’t come true, but that didn’t matter in the end because I had my friends.  Come to think of it, that’s what I really want to shout out to those teenage girls on the diving platform. “It’s not about the boys—it’s about your girlfriends!” I know they won’t believe me, but that’s OK.