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Besties for Life: The Power of Female Friendship

Erin: [00:00:00] Welcome to Hotter Than Ever, where we uncover the unconscious rules we've been following. We break those rules and we find a new path. To being freer, happier, sexier, and more self expressed. I'm your host, Erin Keating.

Today we're doing a bit of an experiment. It's experimental January here at the Hotter Than Ever podcast. My guest is Amber Rickert. She's a rockstar psychotherapist and trauma specialist and she has also been my best friend for 30 years. We talk about the long arc of our friendship from how we met until today and the loving, supportive and nonjudgmental role we play in one another's lives.

Female friends are [00:01:00] treasures and they hold a mirror to one another in a way that no one else can. It's amazing to be able to take the long view with someone whose patterns you have watched unfold over decades and who knows you and your bullshit like the back of their hands. Plus, very good friends really make each other laugh. I hope you enjoy this conversation. I can't wait to hear what you think. Take a listen.

Amber Rickard is a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist, and trauma specialist with clients in California and Vermont. She has also been my best friend, my BFF, my ride or die, since we met one freezing cold winter night as undergrads in a small college in Ohio and I am so excited to have her here on Hotter Than Ever to talk about friendship: friendship between women, long friendships between women and [00:02:00] how profound and meaningful they are in our lives. Welcome to Hotter Than Ever, Amber.

Amber: Hi, I'm so excited to be here with you. 

Erin: This is so fun. I've never done an episode like this before. I'm already kind of blushing because I don't know what's gonna happen. Um, but maybe we just start with how long have we been friends? How long have we been friends? Can we track it? It is the year 2024. We met in the year 

Amber: We met in 93. Because I had already been through my senior year, the fall semester, and I met you winter term. Like the first day of winter term. 

Erin: Okay. Okay. So 30 years. 30 fucking years. Okay. That's insane. We both look great. We sure do. Our relationship is as old as an actual 30 [00:03:00] year old person.

Amber: We wouldn't have an adult child had we had a baby at 20.

Erin: Yeah. This is the math. So let's talk about the night we met. Okay. So it was the dead of winter in Ohio. I was in a play as always. And what were you doing?  

Amber: I was, I had just flown back right as a blizzard was hitting and I was there to train as a tutor teaching English as a second language to train for my time in the Peace Corps, which was imminent after graduation. I was going into the Peace Corps, so I had all these things I had to do before I left. And that was one of them. 

Erin: Got it. Got it. And then we were really good friends from then on.

Amber: That's what I remember. Then on. I remember the feeling of that seamlessness together and how easy it was to be with you and how easy it was to be in your space and how you were [00:04:00] always so welcoming.

And it just felt like we had all this time to spend together and you always had really good makeup. I didn't, and I didn't have, I didn't have the good makeup. And so when I would come over, I remember like putting on that brown Mac lipstick and you were always just like, 'use anything you want' or like 'here, here, try these earrings, try this sweater, do that.'

And that felt really like liberating to me to be in a situation with another woman who wasn't possessive of her things. And you always wanted me to look pretty.

I remember that you were always like encouraging what you were like, yeah, you look pretty in that, wear that. You weren't like, here's a brown sack for you to wear. And you're always like, Oh, this would look pretty on you. Wear this or here, take the, have this. Do you want this? And that's [00:05:00] always been like a defining aspect of our relationship because for me, at least I haven't always had that from other women. And it's, I feel like our friendship was the place where I learned that that was possible, that women could be generous and kind to me and not competitive.

Erin: Hmm. Yeah. I mean, I definitely grew up. Yeah. I grew up a little differently than you because my mom had these two older sisters and they were so glamorous and generous and I spent a lot of time in their dressing rooms trying on their clothes and makeup and jewelry and whatever. And I'd always leave there with something they didn't want.

And so that was what I was raised. Like, that's how women are in my mind. That's how women are supposed to be with each other.

And so it seemed very natural to me. But I also think that we were both living in houses with women who were very [00:06:00] close with each other. Right. I always felt like the odd person out in my house a little bit and you were cool. You were really cool. And you've just been in Scotland and you have the best taste in music. And I just was like, yeah, this is my friend. Of course. 

Amber: It was immediate. Since I had been abroad the year before, I was friends with those women. And we had all been close my sophomore year, but I was coming back after this huge opening in my own life in Glasgow, where I was exposed to just the most incredible music and felt ahead of where everybody else was in the States, um, in terms of fashion and music and grunge and all of that.


Erin: The things that were important to us at the time.


Amber: Were so seminal to me at the time. Yeah. And so I had this feeling that was living inside of me, but I also felt a little bit like I was separate [00:07:00] because I had come from doing this thing. I was gone for the whole year.

Erin: And I was a transfer student. I had come in as a junior after having been in Bali for a semester and taking a semester off and done my own kind of worldly explorations. And travels and independent living really outside of the context of these structures that we were raised in. So I think we had that in common where we both had that independent spirit, which we both have had our whole adult lives because very soon after school, you join the Peace Corps. And then that marked another chapter of our friendship as well.

Amber: Totally, like we stayed in touch throughout that whole period of time through letter writing.

Erin: You would send me pictures of you and the students and like you were in rural Thailand and I was like, what is she doing? You'd be like, there's scorpions in my house and I'd be like, I do not understand. And then I came to visit you, because Southeast Asia wasn't crazy to me because [00:08:00] I had done a semester in Bali and I had been to Thailand already. It was not intimidating. I was like, great, this is perfect.

And you spoke Thai. You learned Thai and spoke Thai. So I was like, I have this most amazing tour guide of Bangkok and Thailand. It was crazy. Now, I don't think our peers We're necessarily living the same kind of life that we were living in our early twenties, where I had moved to San Francisco and you had moved to Thailand and we were both like traveling and adventuring and just like really so excited to be free and independent young women out in the world.

And I didn't have a vision for what I wanted my adult life to be other than I wanted to have the most adventures. I wanted to have the most fun and I wanted to live an interesting life that for me, that was what I wanted. And I think we're [00:09:00] very similar in that way. 

Amber: I knew I wanted to go somewhere and like be of service. I didn't think I used those terms back then. I think I probably used something that was a little more idealistic, like I want to help. I wanted to live abroad too. That was the other thing. So Glasgow kind of taught me that I wanted to live in another country, but I knew I didn't want to just travel because I did have a deep sense of, I don't want to just take like only traveling felt like consuming and it wasn't contributing.

And so the reason I picked the Peace Corps was I felt that it was contributing. We could debate whether it did do that. I think I did personally contribute based on my relationships still to this day with my students, a profound connection that altered their lives, which many of them have told me. So I was going to have an experience like that, I think, but I didn't really know exactly how it was going to [00:10:00] go.

Erin: No, I mean, how did we know any, I don't know how I did it. I don't know how we knew how to do anything or what to do with that age, except that we were both very stubborn and very independent and willful. And I wonder whether listeners to this podcast can relate to any of this story, the just connecting with someone really organically and then just sort of

deciding, well, we're each other's people. And that's, that's just how it is. There was no conversation about it. It just was what it was.

Either that or this sort of embracing independence as a young person. I think it may be generational too. I think it's, I think it's a very, it's very characteristic of Gen X to be this independent minded.And sort of willing to take risks and question and not do a conventional thing. I think today, young people are tracked into a professional path and there's so much anxiety around career and [00:11:00] all of that stuff. And I think we were somehow free of that for quite a long time in our 20s. Where I certainly was, you know, pursuing being an artist and trying to figure myself out living in San Francisco and trying to figure out whether that was a place for me.

And then you came back from the Peace Corps and the first place you came was my apartment in San Francisco. That was the first landing. And I remember that you had all of these snacks, these Asian snacks in your backpack. You had these dried shrimp and I had a crazy cat that broke into your backpack to get the dried shrimp. And we woke up in the morning and there was just dried shrimp snacks literally all over the apartment. I mean, these are such stupid details, but this is the color of our friendship. You came back and I was like, yeah, welcome you and your weird snacks and my weird cat, and I'm in this shitty apartment and here we are, [00:12:00] let's have some more adventures together.

Amber: That was profound and shocking to be back in the United States after being in that environment for three years in the Peace Corps, and then also working in Thailand after the Peace Corps ended.

Erin: Yeah, and being in a relationship with a Muslim fisherman. Almost getting married 

Amber: Almost getting married to a Muslim fisherman.

Erin: I mean, I think that's one thing that's always been really interesting about our friendship is that we lead with different things in relationship with our chosen opposite gender, right? So we're both heterosexual, we both like men, but you are very much about emotional connections with men and men are always chasing you and there's always like a line out the door of dudes who want to be with you and who project all their fantasies onto you and think you're going to be the solution to their problems. [00:13:00] 

Meanwhile, I'm just fucking people and occasionally I fall in love and it's probably not with someone I should be with. I mean, we are so different in our approach to that, but I think it's like, it's a hilarious point of contrast between us because I think we, we can call each other out on these patterns that we've seen in each other for decades now. And we both now see it in ourselves. But we definitely see it in each other.

Amber: It's so funny how at some point it becomes a pattern. And for me, I don't think I recognized my deep pattern in this until not that long ago when I moved to Vermont and all these issues or things that I thought I had processed in my 20 years in California suddenly were back like right up in my face.

And when I was thinking about my relationships [00:14:00] with men and my relationships with you and women and friendships, but particularly with men. I was like, wow, this is a pattern. Like, this is my pattern. 

Erin: I've been telling you it's a pattern. 

Amber: I, as you have pointed out, can be willfully, I have said naive, but as you have pointed it out as willfully blind. And I think that's right. I have a way of being just sort of like, Oh, well, that didn't happen. Let's just move on. It's a strong, strong management strategy in my life. 

Erin: Look, everybody has things that work for them, you know, like you're just fine. I'm just fine. We're just working it out. We're working it out.

Amber: We're just working it out and perfectly imperfect. And yeah, I definitely enjoy living life [00:15:00] to its fullest. And I've always been game to do that and to take the risks and then sort of figure it out later. I do think now I'm sort of taking stock of things in a different way at 50, 51. How much do I want to just barrel into things? And maybe I don't want to do that as much anymore. 

Erin: But can you change? I mean, that's the question for me. I'm in the opposite where like, I've guarded my heart so intensely. I've held myself back emotionally, didn't want to get hurt and was in a marriage where I got hurt all the time, but I had so much armor up that I protected myself somehow from it.

And now I feel like. I'm in this relationship and I don't know where it's going to go. And my heart is wide open and it's terrifying for me. Like I can do physical intimacy so easily, but emotional [00:16:00] intimacy is like, uh, Yeah. No. And I watch you throwing your heart at everything for the last 30 years. And I'm like, I don't know how she does that.

It's always been like, uh, isn't that fascinating because we have some similar childhood stuff, some similar classic fucking Gen X neglect and raising ourselves and raising our boomer parents. No offense, mom and dad, if you're listening, but we have such different responses to that in terms of how we handle the intimacy in our own lives, but that is a constant topic of conversation. I wonder if people who are listening with your girlfriends, do you talk for us? We talk constantly about boys like we talk about men all the time. It's a big topic because I don't have other people that I process that stuff with in quite the same way. 

Amber: Right. Well, it's very safe to talk about it. And I appreciate it. I feel totally comfortable sharing things with [00:17:00] you about like my inner landscape or patterns or something I might've done or said that like led to something more than maybe I intended it to. I don't feel like I need to protect that, protect that part of me from you. I'm not like, Oh, I shouldn't talk about that. I just talk about it. And then, you know


Erin: We'll giggle about it because it's sometimes become so self evident

Amber: And I feel so open hearted around you. I mean, I, I am an open hearted person, but I do feel protective of myself in other circumstances where I don't have that with you. And it's interesting. We're both from the East coast. We both grew up on the East coast, not that far away from each other. I grew up in Philly. You grew up in Baltimore. I feel like I do have to guard myself a little bit more when I'm back East. I've noticed that on this trip being out in California now, [00:18:00] like I do feel a little freer when I'm out in California.

And I think our friendship right now, you're in California and I've been here two decades. I don't live here now, but I feel like somehow very free when we're together, when I talk to you, I don't feel judged. I don't feel like we're super traditional and sometimes I feel like my friendships back East are a little bit more traditional. I value them deeply, but I protect what I say sometimes a little bit more, uh, around those friendships because I don't know if they can handle my like intrepid or adventurous spirit sometimes. I feel like I'm too much often. 

Erin: Yeah. Yeah. And I never, my feeling about our friendship is that it's permanent. Right. That it's not going anywhere. I think we decided this, or I certainly decided it for [00:19:00] myself a long time ago that like, this isn't a thing we're not going to do at any point. Right. Like, I also grew up with my mom having one best friend and they were best friends in their twenties and they are still there.

Right. And now my mom is 80, they are still really close. And I grew up with that model. It's obviously ebbed and flowed depending on where we've been at in our lives in our like primary, like when you were raising your son. And deep in your career in social services, you didn't have very much bandwidth. And I was deep in my own thing. And then I had kids and I was not as available to the friendship.

As there's been gaps and changes in our lives, we've always used them as an opportunity to come together as opposed to, Oh, well, we've all, we've been doing so much different stuff that we're not going to be close anymore. It actually has been [00:20:00] really fascinating to me. Like, okay, back to our twenties, you had a plan for your life. So you went to graduate school, you got two graduate degrees. I was doing theater stuff in New York. You found a perfect on paper husband and married him and had a kid and I was dating someone who I had no future with and I came to your wedding and I was an asshole.

And I didn't have fun and I wasn't dressed right and I was uptight and weird and we're still friends even though I sucked. I sucked at your wedding. I don't know, I just, maybe I was just jealous or your life looks so perfect and I didn't know what the fuck I was doing. But we, we let each other be kind of a mess when we're a mess and more together when we're more together. And thanks for tolerating me. 

Amber: Also, there's so many friendships I've had where an incident like that or similar to that would [00:21:00] destroy the friendship because either I had done something that they didn't like or they did something and then they didn't feel like they could repair it. And you, I remember, at some point said, I'm so sorry that I didn't show up in the way that I should have or that you needed me to at your wedding. And we talked about it. And for me, that kind of gesture, that repair, that's all that I've ever needed in a relationship or a friendship.

And the effort put forth then to say, I own what I did and I don't want that to be our relationship, or I don't want to be that way anymore. And then you've shown up so consistently since then. And I think we were sort of meant to be as friends. If, if you can say that about a friendship, I think there's very much like a meant to be [00:22:00] thing that's between the two of us. But that was the difference between you and I, and so many of my relationships in my late 20s and early 30s, I certainly had close friendships during that period of time and meaningful ones, but not all of them have had the like consistency. And I think it's because you put the effort into saying, I'm sorry, and having the difficult conversations and we've, when we have them, when we need to--


Erin: Yeah we had a fight the other day, I mean, okay, so Amber has been staying with me for like three weeks to the point where my daughter is like, I need her to leave. And I'm like, I know, but I'm having too much fun. But we had a fight about something. I don't remember exactly what made it happen, but I think it was like, I felt like you were critiquing my parenting [00:23:00] and I was like, I'm doing the best that I can. And I didn't like your tone

Amber: And you were giving, I was giving you feedback and then you were giving me feedback and I was like, I'm not criticizing you. Take the feedback. You're like, I'm taking the feedback. I'm taking it. And you're like, take it.

Erin: We both have feedback. Yeah. It's just a testament to like, in any healthy love relationship, in any healthy friendship, hopefully, and I'm curious to hear from listeners whether they do this in their friendships, do you sweep things under the rug or do you actually say the things that need to be said when they need to be said?

Fast forwarding into our thirties and forties, where we were both in marriages and then. Out of marriages and having [00:24:00] kids and then raising kids. And we're in the weeds of those things. We were often in different places in our lives and one or the other of us was doing something more conventional or less conventional. And even in the moments when, like, after your divorce, you were living this wild East L.A. life for a half decade, a good long time. I couldn't relate so much to what you were going through, but I could see it, and I could feel it, and I could be there for you, and I could withhold judgment. I mean, I think that's--

Amber: A lot of people didn't. And that's, I lost a lot of friends during that period of time, a lot of long term friends. And that was a source of real grief for me. But I was also spending time with All these other people who were, a lot of them were transplants to Los Angeles. I would say they were not conventional, most of them, by any measure.

And it was very like kind of a Bukowski kind of vibe, like the places, the bars we were hanging out in and the music that we were playing and the spoken words that were being written. So there was like this strong bond that happened between me and all those people, but I don't know that any of my friends from back East or people I grew up with, or the people that I was friends with when I was married would look at that group of people and be like, these are socially acceptable people to spend time with.

I think that that period of time I was experimenting with leaving my East coast boarding school education behind my quote unquote pedigree, like going to really good schools and then being out in LA and my marriage had quote unquote failed. And I didn't feel [00:26:00] like I could fit in that box anymore. And I just felt like everything fell apart.

And then both of my dads were getting really sick and then they died. So that all happened in rapid succession and you stood by me during that period of time where I was like, just so sad. 

Erin: Yeah. I couldn't relate to what you were doing. I was busy trying to have the conventional life. I was busy getting married and building a career with a capital C and being the good girl that I am and following the rules and doing all the things. And I was watching you still thriving in your career, you know, magically by day. Always somehow achieving and then also like working this dark shit out for yourself. And that's the way I saw it. I was like, you were mourning the marriage. You were reassessing your identity. You were trying to figure [00:27:00] it out.

And that seemed okay to me when you were getting tattoos and you were doing all the things. But I also understood on some fundamental level because I'm a child of multiple divorces. Divorce does that to women, and it makes women Um, really ask a lot of fundamental questions about what they thought they were doing and who they thought they were doing it with and the life they thought they were building.

And I'm asking those questions today, 15 years after almost 20 years after you, right? You would tell me about these friends who were kind of fair weather and they were there for you in a certain identity mode. And then in others, they were not, and I was like, fuck those people. Like how dare they? How dare they? They don't know what friendship is.

Amber:  And L.A. has a transitory quality to it, and a lot of those people that I was friends with back then was such an exciting period of [00:28:00] time in my life. I think there was also a like partying that was happening that wasn't like the seeds of consistency or stability, you know, so yeah, it's just like was a really good time.

Erin: Yeah. And I was glad because you were miserable as a married person. Yeah. Like in that particular man. Yes. It was not a lot of joy there.

Amber: No. And that's where like the mirror of our friendship is so useful to me or meaningful because I don't always know those things until you're reflecting them back to me I'm like, oh, right. I was that's that's right. I wasn't allowed to yeah admit that to myself But I was.

Erin: No, of course not, right. Oh, look, you're the one too when I was in my marriage and I was saying to you, you know, look, we don't have sex, but you know, that's not the essence of a marriage. It's not essence of [00:29:00] the essence of a relationship. And like, you can have a perfectly happy marriage without sex. And you didn't say to me, Erin, you're a slut. You need sex, and this is so important to you, and it's been so important to you ever since I've known you. You're lying to yourself. That is something you were well within your rights to say and you didn't.

Amber: We were sitting in your car in Koreatown, and I just remember you saying it's not that important to me anymore. And I just remember being like, what is she like smoking that she's telling herself? Um, yeah, that's not important to her. Cause that's never been something I've heard her co sign ever. But you know, when we're married, especially if we're committed to staying, even if we're not happy, we tell ourselves a lot of things, a lot of things. In order to keep us [00:30:00] there. Right. And to keep us like, okay, with the situation. 

Erin: And I had little kids, like, what was I going to do? I really felt like I couldn't, there was just no choice. And I just had to be in acceptance. And so what that meant was to lie to myself. And instead of saying, Oh my God, you're so full of shit. You chose to play the long game, that's the way I see it. You're like, I'm gonna be here for her when she comes out the other end of this thing.

Amber: I didn't think it was gonna go forever. I didn't think it was gonna be forever at that time. I was like, okay, well, we'll just see how long this takes. 

Erin: Yeah. Exactly. But that's a, that was a moment of generosity on your part because I couldn't have done anything about it if you had said something and you know, it's interesting in our forties I was reflecting like we both found recovery in various ways, right? We both sort of stepped into the 12 step rooms and for [00:31:00] me, you know, my 12 step experience was around food, but I also was in Al Anon for a while and I found that to be so profoundly life changing, life altering, and I think you had a similar experience. And it's just, that was an interesting point of connection where we were both like in the room and drinking that Kool Aid until we were done.

Amber: I drank it a long time until we were done. A long time. I was probably done.

And I was in Al Anon and I, I was probably done three years before I actually quit. It takes me a long time to leave something. Takes me a long time to leave relationships. Takes me a long, took me a long time to leave Al Anon, but it did do a lot of profound things for me. It gave me close friendships in Los Angeles and a town where I felt like things were more transitory.

I found that in Al Anon. I worked like a very strict program for years. I [00:32:00] went to at least two meetings a week. I did the steps twice. I worked them through. I sponsored women. I was sponsored by the same woman for a very long time who was deeply involved in my life. And I did find a lot of recovery there.

It did help me a lot to get relief. She used to say, like, this is a simple program and you are a complex person. Do not make this more complicated. And that helped me a lot. And Al Anon and I gave me a relationship with God. And I think we were both trying, we were feeling into that during that period of time in our forties. Um, and, I will always be indebted to Al Anon for giving me a relationship with God. That's what helped me have one. 

Erin: Me too. Me too. OA did that for me and I worked a rigorous program for seven years and really changed my life, changed my relationship with my [00:33:00] body, changed my relationship with food, changed my inner dialogue, changed my ability to love myself.

And to forgive things that I was carrying my whole life and it gave me a higher power. It really, I was not ready for that inquiry until it happened. I was really not, you know, going to need God. Thanks. Thanks for that. You know, um, too cool for God. But today it ripples in my life in the rooms. It was real profound for me.

I think that both of us have sought various kinds of healing in our lives and now that we find ourselves in our fifties, we find ourselves in our fifties. We're both fucking so cute. We're both still boy crazy. That hasn't changed. I'm actually, that hasn't changed. A lot of things haven't changed, but you're an empty nester. I'm newly [00:34:00] divorced. We both have a different kind of freedom than we've ever had. Mm hmm. Even though I am still deep in the throes of parenting and career change and all of that stuff. We have talked about when we are old ladies having houses next door to each other or figuring out a way to take care of each other. I still think about that. And as we age, I think about that and like, who else would it be? If it wasn't you?


Amber: Right. When I come out and stay with you too, I always think about that because it's very easy to be in spaces together. I find it to be really easy to cohabitate and that's with your kids being in the house too. They may, like you said, they may not always like it, but they're jealous. They're like my niece and nephew. And I think it's a, an interesting perspective for them to have me around. And they'll be like, mom, when I come home, I'm like, it's not your mom. It's your [00:35:00] auntie. And they'll be like, Oh, um, but, um, then they'll say, yeah. And then we'll have like a little chat.

And then every once in a while they give me like a little nugget. And that's the way teenagers are anyway. They just give you these nuggets, but it's very easy to live with you and we don't officially live together, but it's very easy to share a space with you. You don't get uptight about stuff and I can be a little bit looser about certain domestic things.

Although I don't like pride myself on my domestic. I'm very domestic, but I don't, that's not my leading part of my identity. Like people have said to me, when I make them food, they're like, Oh, you cook. Like they don't look at me and go like, that's a homemaker.

Erin: My trick is I pretend that I don't do any of that stuff, but of course I can do all of it.

Well, when we have to, I just don't want anyone to make me do it.

Amber: Right. Like raising kids, you have to do it, but I've enjoyed doing it. Now [00:36:00] that I live by myself, I'm good at this stuff. So I'm re refreshing my relationship to all of that, but you don't ride me. You're not like. The stove is dirty or there's dishes in the sink and I, I do know people like that, you know, where I'm like, Oh God, I haven't cleaned up yet. Like I'm in trouble. You know.

Erin: I don't want to be that person. I don't like that person. I also like whatever, I'm so happy to have you around. Like, it's so nice for me to have you here and. To have the space to have you here and to know that you're comfortable here and that your son was comfortable here. And also I'm comfortable here cause I'm not in an unhappy marriage. 

Amber: Right. Right. 

Erin: You know? And it's my house and I can do whatever I want. God damnit.

Amber: You said that the other night too. I want to have a house and a space where people can do what they want. I think co shared spaces, there's like an agreement that we'll [00:37:00] all sort of contribute and pitch in and, and do our part, but that it doesn't have to be laid out on a spreadsheet to within an inch of its life. And, and that's, to me, like the beauty of co shared living or the beauty of I'll dare say the word. To me, that's what like real. Anarchy is it's like letting people kind of guide themselves and care for their communities in the ways that they want to and like works for them.

And like, I kind of think of you like that. I don't think you would say I'm an anarchist. Like I say it, I'm an anarchist, but it's such a loaded word. But to me, that's what anarchy is. It's allowing people to do their lives the way they want to do it. And then when you have a community, there are these sort of implicit agreements that everybody's agreeing to do their part in their own way. And we're not like managing and controlling each other. And that's the kind of household you have. [00:38:00] 

Erin: Oh that's nice to hear. That's what I want. I don't want to feel like we're in some kind of strict authoritarian environment. I mean, I don't impose a ton of rules on my kids either. But I do expect a certain level of responsibility and self reliance from them that I'm not ever going to be a helicopter parent. I just say, like, you have to stay in the honors program. So like, right. Do what it takes. Do what it takes. Find out what those parameters are.

Amber: Yeah. That's how I led when I was the kind of boss. Like, do your job and I'm not going to bother you. But if you don't do your job, then we're going to have a problem.


Erin: Right. Don't suck at this. Yeah. Be responsible for yourself. Totally, totally. I think like we both are such natural high achievers. Neither of us need anyone kind of sitting over our shoulders telling us what to do. And I don't want that in a friendship. I don't want that in a love relationship and I don't want that in my home. That is not a [00:39:00] dynamic I pursue.

I pursue excellent people, right? And then let them be who they are. That's what I want from my whole life, is to be surrounded by excellent people who are gonna handle their stuff and who are gonna do their own lives the way they're gonna do it. And then we're gonna have the delight of coming together and learning from each other and being profoundly different.

I mean, we are deeply different in so many ways. I mean. I'm far more conventional in a lot of ways than you are, but I'm probably unconventional in ways that you're not. I just don't need you to be me. 

Amber: Right. And I might be more conventional in like love relationships. I'd like to get married again. And I tell people that and they're like, what? You want to get married again? Or you still believe in marriage? Like, so I think in some ways I might be more traditional than you, but in other ways I'm like deeply more. Radical in my beliefs, I guess, for [00:40:00] someone that has radical beliefs that I have to believe in marriage feels kind of like an odd match.


Erin: Right, anachronistic. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I guess that's sort of what it comes down to at the end of the day, and I'm curious whether listeners have this in their friendships, but I just don't feel judgmental of you. I don't feel the need to judge you. I don't feel the need to have an editorial point of view on your life.

I'm like, yeah, that's Amber. Amber's doing Amber's thing. Like, you know, Amber's living her life in her Amber way. Like I'm not invested in you being anything but happy. That's all I want. I only worry about you when you put your safety at risk or when you're in a situation that's making you unhappy, right? Really at the end of the day, that's the skin I have in that game. I don't need you to conform to anything. My preference is [00:41:00] that you be happy and safe. 

Amber: Right. Right. As, as someone who loves me, that makes a lot of sense. And I think I always assume that I'm safe in the world. I always have felt that way, even in like really crazy circumstances. And so I lead with that and it's a little cavalier. And I think now that we're in our fifties, I'm reevaluating that approach.

Erin: Don't say we're in our fifties.

Amber: Now that we are where we are, I'm re evaluating that approach.

Erin: Yeah. I have a very safety minded boyfriend, and so he sort of points out the places where I'm cavalier about that stuff, and I, too, feel like, I'm fine, nothing bad's gonna happen. I'm not gonna get in trouble for whatever we're doing. I'm such a good girl. Why would anything happen that was bad? But obviously, that's not the world, right? That's not the world we live in. It's not you or I that I'm worried about. It's everybody else. [00:42:00]  

Amber: I appreciate that you look out for me because I don't actually really have a lot of that in my life. I have it in one other friendship, but I really don't have that sort of feeling of liberation, but also care like I have your back as long as you're safe and you're happy like I'm good. And the last time I was here, I was out and about and you were like, have fun.

You know, like you weren't like, where are you going? And why aren't you home ever? You weren't like that. 

Erin: I'm not your mother and I'm not your guardian. That's the beauty of being peers. It's like, how do we give ourselves? Like the space to change and grow and adapt and evolve as life demands and also as our own desires take us and we're lucky enough to have the kind of freedom from constraint in a lot of ways.

Like [00:43:00] we don't live in a religiously repressive environment where there's a whole set of rules that we have to conform to. And we have chosen a kind of independence in our lives that we both really, really need and wouldn't be happy without. And so I think we give each other grace because that's something we both have worked hard to have and it's very important to both of us. 

Amber: Yeah, it is. It's a foundational principle of my life, for sure. And I think we both come together in that area very strongly. 

Erin: For sure. Okay. So Amber Rickert, I have loved having you on this podcast. This has been a really cool experiment. And I thank you for thinking of it several months ago, we were hanging out, you mentioned it. And I was like, huh, I don't know. And then I decided it was a great idea.

I want to [00:44:00] ask you the same question that I've asked every guest on this podcast, which is, are there any deal terms in your life that you are ready to renegotiate? We all live our lives under a set of deals that we've made consciously or unconsciously. Literally or figuratively.


Amber: I guess maybe the primary thing is for me is renegotiating my relationship to myself in my own life on my own terms and not making myself wrong for. Being so fiercely independent and being as adventurous as I am, because there's a part of me that's like, especially these last couple of years post COVID, I've been like, why did I do all the things I did?

Like, I'm so extreme. I take these huge risks and I've been okay. But I think renegotiating my [00:45:00] relationship to how I talk to myself and then also just like being cool with myself. I'm single now, I'm really enjoying myself, so why am I writing a narrative that I should be doing X, Y, or Z right now? I should be doing exactly what I'm doing right now, as long as I'm caring for myself and just renegotiating like the narratives that I tell myself about my life.

Being 51 and being happy being single for the first time, usually when I was single in the past, I was like, I want to be in a relationship and to just renegotiate my whole feelings about all of it.

Erin: I like that. You're going to be in a relationship in about five minutes. If I had a crystal ball. I'm really only just teasing you because I always wished I had a line of boys out the door like you do. I like that renegotiating the self [00:46:00] talk and the self judgment. I think that's a big deal. I want that for you. I love you so much. You're my favorite.

And I hope listeners to this podcast got something out of our walk down memory lane. I mean, the reason to talk about it is because these kinds of friendships are rare and so important. And we lift each other up. We support each other and we care for each other. And I think we're going to just keep doing that until we die.

Amber: Totally. I was just thinking of like, if there was a sitcom, like which one would we be? And I was going to say Golden Girls, but that's like too old for us. We're not there yet. But I always watched it when I was growing up.

Erin: You know, they were in their fifties.

Amber: Were they?

Erin: They were in their fifties. Yes. 50s and 60s. Because I loved that show. They all had old lady hair.

Amber: Yeah. They had old lady hair. I loved that show. I thought they were awesome together. I used to watch it with my grandmother. And then my grandfather would come in the room and be [00:47:00] like, what are you showing her? Because he thought it was racy. 

Erin: Because Rue McClanahan was the sexy one and she was always getting dolled up for her dates.

Amber: She was like always in the room with the boy. Yeah. Didn't she always have like a date over or like he had just left or something? She always had a date and Bea Arthur always had like a sarcastic comment to make about it.

Erin: They're both my spirit animal. Those two.

Amber: I think those kinds of friendships are so important for women and they're just enduring and they're the through line through all the relationships with men, really. 

Erin: So, yeah, more to come. More to come.

Thanks for listening to Hotter Than Ever. Have you noticed that I am now doing short advice episodes every week on top of our regular episodes on Thursdays? Do you have something you'd like a [00:48:00] very biased opinion about? Are there issues around friendship, love, sex, relationships, career, ambition, aging, divorce, or something else you would like my unvarnished, but hopefully thoughtful take on?

Reach out to Hotter Than Ever on Instagram @hotterthaneverpod, DM us, or call and leave a voicemail or text your question to 323 844 2388. That is the Hotter Than Ever Hottie Hotline at 3 2 3 8 4 4 2 3 0 3. I would love to answer your question in a future episode.

Hotter than ever is produced by Erica Gerard and pod kit productions. Our associate producer is Melody Carey. Music is by Chris Keating with vocals by Issa Fernandez.

Go tell your best friends, you love them, celebrate your female friendships, [00:49:00] check in with your nearest and dearest and come back next week for more juicy stuff.[00:50:00] 


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