A Love Letter to My Girlfriends

“We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.” — Leslie Knope

I’m snarky. Big surprise. I have very little love for Valentine’s Day. Big surprise. In my opinion, it is a no-win, pseudo-holiday. You are either celebrating a Hallmark holiday devoted to false illusions of a perfect relationship or you’re involved in a hollow response to it.

As a fiery young co-ed, I was so anti-Valentine’s I auditioned and was cast for a role in the Vagina Monologues. I was naïvely convinced that Eve Ensler’s V-day would take the place of that dreaded, saccharine day. Although a good cause, spotlighting violence against women does not a second pseudo-holiday make. Enter the plucky, fictional women, Leslie Knope from Parks & Recreation to spark the movement I was looking for:

“Every February 13, my ladyfriends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lilith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.”

This concept pushed directly back against its counterpart, the romance-happy Hallmark holiday, by emulating it and women were captivated.

Do not confuse the popularity of Galentine’s Day as a need to take emotional refuge from couplehood. Do not assume that your #girlsquad is runner-up or alternative to a romantic relationship. The writer Emily Rapp argued that “friendships between women are often the deepest and most profound love stories, but they are often discussed as if they are ancillary, ‘bonus’ relationships to the truly important ones.”

Galentine’s Day recognizes that female friendships are a romance unto themselves.

The love we have for our friends is legitimate; love full of passion, joy, loss, comfort, and occasionally, heartbreak. The women in my life have borne witness to my triumphs and failures with every bit the complication and nuance of any romantic relationship. My friends have defined my path from girlhood to adulthood (still a work in progress). After all, as Deborah Tannen puts in her book You’re the Only One I Can Tell: Inside the Language of Women’s Friendships, “Having a friend means feeling less alone in the world.”

So in the spirit of this Galentine’s Day, I send out thanks to my girlfriends for all the amazingness they bring to my life. I have needed them more intensely than they have needed me, and I am grateful.


  • The latest from Nicole
Head Janitor, Chef, and Proprietor | Stomping Ground
Nicole’s cooking style is rooted in, but not limited to, her love of southern biscuits and her diverse culinary upbringing. A military brat, she spent her childhood in the Chicago suburbs enjoying her great-grandmother Mae’s Lithuanian cooking. As a tween, she moved to Paulding County, Ga. where she begrudgingly fell in love with the charmingly perplex small towns of the Deep South. She fondly remembers grubbing on Martin’s biscuits, late-night Waffle House debauchery and cooking with her family. After graduating from the University of Georgia, Nicole started a marketing career at an art nonprofit in Atlanta. At 25 years old, she became the youngest executive at the local Atlanta NPR affiliate. Chasing her dreams, she moved to Alexandria, Va. where she took a short post in the Whole Foods marketing department. Realizing that cooking had been her true love all along, she began night courses at L’Academie de Cuisine. She completed her apprenticeship at Blue Duck Tavern where she was promoted to a line cook after graduation. From there, Nicole worked as a private chef for busy Washington D.C. executives and their families. As grown-ups tend to do, Nicole realized something about her childhood — the best parts were enjoying small town communities, cooking with her great-grandmother and sharing meals with family and friends. She opened Stomping Ground to build a safe and welcoming community around yummy, handmade food from local sources. As her first foray running her own kitchen, she has shamelessly hired better, smarter cooks to fill her kitchen and your bellies. Her great-grandmother’s recipes often appear on the Stomping Ground menu without advertisement and, no, she won’t tell you the secret ingredients. Nicole lives in Del Ray and won’t shut up about how much she loves living there.

If you wander down Del Ray’s, “The Avenue,” you won’t miss the farm-red building with a rustic fence bordering the patio. Stomping Ground opened two years ago and quickly became popular for its made-from-scratch biscuits and its neighborhood vibe. On weekends, excited guests line up before Stomping Ground opens hoping to be the first to get a just-out-of-the-oven biscuit or a fresh salad. Stomping Ground is mostly known for its fast casual breakfast and lunch but on Thursdays and Fridays they provide a full dinner service after 5:00pm. All meals are built from local, seasonal food that is organic whenever possible.


2309 Mt Vernon Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22301


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