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Dear Hillary, Do You Need A Female Friend?

Remember me? I introduced myself and welcomed you toin a letter that appeared inin 1999. You even took the time to acknowledge it, writing me a personal note afterwards. Like other neighbors in our small leafy hamlet (the way it's referred to disparagingly in the press), we never really got to know each other.
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Remember me? I introduced myself and welcomed you to Chappaqua in a letter that appeared in The Washington Post in 1999. You even took the time to acknowledge it, writing me a personal note afterwards. Like other neighbors in our small leafy hamlet (the way it's referred to disparagingly in the press), we never really got to know each other.

Actually, we did speak briefly on three occasions that I am more likely to remember than you: at your book-signing for Living History in the Chappaqua Library sponsored by Second Story Bookshop (our independent bookseller); at a talk you gave for the Wise Wonderful Women of Westchester (held at Temple Beth El); and at a presentation you made at the Crabtree's Kittle House restaurant sponsored by Second Shift (an organization of career-moms in Chappaqua struggling with work/life balance issues).

Admittedly, you've accumulated quite a few frequent flyer miles and haven't had the chance to be here as often as you or I would have liked. As often happens in small leafy hamlets like Chappaqua (and enormous virtual social networking sites like LinkedIn), you recognize neighbors by sight and know people who know them (If it helps with the introduction, you are a friend of my some of my friends).

As an aside, I might add that from the time you first moved to Westchester County and were immediately bestowed with a carpetbagger label, both you and the President have been wonderful citizens and neighbors. My son, Andrew, heard you speak about citizenship at the Robert E. Bell Middle School.

By the time he got to high school, you were splitting your time between here and Washington, DC as our U.S. Senator and he had the privilege of being in the audience as your husband addressed the entire school body in the gymnasium at Horace Greeley High School. You've consistently marched down King Street in our Memorial Day parades, appeared at local benefits for various health and social causes (without any fanfare or efforts to turn it into a media event), and have made other quiet but significant, non-public contributions as a townie.

I think you got shafted in the primaries from every side. But then you've been a lightening rod for critics and naysayers ever since I first knew you (once removed) and you've been strong enough to take it. I'm writing to remind you that there are many women in town like me who have profound respect for the road you've paved for your daughter and other women's daughters. We appreciate your intellect, tenacity, and your love for your family, community and country.

Back to my note...I'm writing now because every woman knows that losing isn't easy, particularly when you've worked so hard and the loss is so public. It has to take the wind out of your sails, at least for the summer. You need a friend's shoulder.

Ironically, I'm completing a book about female friendships (Overlook Press, 2009) and I have never been so lonely---you and I both know what it's like putting off friendships to focus on work. I recognize through my research and personal experience that you are a prime candidate for a condition that I call female friendship deficit disorder.

Women with this disorder simply don't have enough time for female friendships---even though we recognize how vital these relationships are to our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. At this point you might be saying, "It's kind of like sleep. We know we should get more of it, but there simply isn't enough time!"

But when you do have more time, all of a sudden that deficit (loss) hits you hard. You're in your house alone and feel awkward picking up the phone to call a friend you haven't talked to in months or years. In short, I'd love you to come over to my house to chat over soft-scrambled eggs (described as a favorite of yours on your MySpace page) and a cup of cappuccino---or a glass of red wine and chocolate if it's later in the day.

Leave your pantsuit home and come casually-dressed. We'll share feelings, laugh and enjoy the beauty of spring in the Hudson Valley. We might talk about the challenges of taking care of aging moms or raising only-children, but I promise we won't talk about politics, husbands or the state of healthcare in America. Do you need a female friend?

With warm wishes,

Irene S. Levine, PhD is a freelance journalist and author who blogs about female friendships at HuffPo and She is a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine and is working on a book about female friendships, Best Friends Forever, which will be published by Overlook Press.