For Free

As I have mentioned, my best friend Jade was visiting.  She left on Wednesday.

On the day that she left, I found little love notes that she had posted around the house.  On my bed.  In the closet.  In my freezer.

And so, I posted this photo of us to Facebook:


We have been the best of friends for 20 years this year.  I’ve spent more of my life with her than without her.  On the surface we seem so…different.  I’m a lawyer; she’s an actress/musician.  (For that reason alone, I actually cannot watch the movie Beaches without sobbing uncontrollably throughout.)

Anyway, despite our different exteriors, at our soft middles, we have similar hearts.

Sometimes I think about authenticity and who we each are at our cores.  And I think that social media has led us to feel pressured to lead beautifully curated lives.  To never be dull, or depressing, or ugly.  To never take off our make-up, or wear pajamas, or make silly faces.

(In fact, there was some meme for a while that was something like pretty girls making ugly faces.  Really?!  Is this what we’ve come to?!  We have to be so perfect all the time that a scrunched nose is some kind of goddamned novelty?!)

It seems like it is not okay to be honest about the fact the day-to-day can actually be kind of…eye-rollingly beige, and sometimes, a bit blue.

Along those lines, when people try to tell me: If you’re such a happy person, why don’t you present yourself as such? I want to scream.  Because I am a genuinely happy person.  But if I wrote about my life as if I were riding a unicorn through the lobby of The Four Seasons while instagramming my delicious plate of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon while screaming Glittercannon!!!! and making jazz-hands…

You know what?  I’m not even going to bother finishing that sentence.

I want to reply to this criticism with: Take a look at yourself.  How is it, for instance, that you present yourself as “an avid reader,” and you talk about books all the time, and yet you cannot have a conversation about literary criticism, and don’t you know anything about any authors except Nora Roberts and Danielle Steele? 

And for that matter, you don’t even know that Danielle Steele lives in the Spreckles Mansion, you phony.

(“…I was surrounded  by phonies.  That’s all.  They were coming in the goddam window.”)

I mean, maybe you’re an avid reader of Nora Roberts, and maybe I’m the one who Does Not Get It.

But my broader point is: Judge not, my friends.  Judge not the presentation of others, lest ye be judged.

In this same, and yet totally unrelated vein, when I was a teenager, my first Joni Mitchell album was Miles of Aisles.  I would listen to it overandoverandover.  And I understood, but didn’t at all understand the lyrics to For Free, which was one of the songs she played beautifully on the live album.  The song is about her playing for big crowds and getting paid a lot for the life she was living, and yet being humbled by listening to a guy play on a street corner real good, for free.

I mean, it’s about quite a lot more than that distinction.  But my take-away was:  It is very easy to forget who you are.  It is very easy to be caught in the glitz and glamour of a fancy life, and to present yourself as X person; to forget your beginnings.  And as the world moves faster, we are able to share more and more of ourselves.  But we are also able to carefully curate the pieces of ourselves we share, so it is maybe even more important to remember not to forget who we are.

What I am trying to say is that it has taken me many, many years, but I suppose I’m not at all interested in leading a manufactured life.  And I love loving and being loved by people who make it so I am brave enough; strong enough to be who I am with myself and to the world.

And in this ever-changing, abnormal world in which we live, I am grateful that I have had a best friend for 20 years who has just made me feel normal throughout.


Leave a Comment

  1. My thoughts exactly. I’ve had the same best friend for 25 years now. We are completely different people and have been through a lot together. Our relationship has ebbed and flowed. Currently, I think it is at one of the better places in its entire time. We don’t get to talk much but we email and text constantly. She’s always there and to me that is all that matters.

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