Friends From Your Past
Then and now
By: Alena Jemas
She will land this evening at LaGuardia, and the flurry will begin soon thereafter: BlackBerry messages and backless dresses, lists at doors and late brunches complete with mimosas (“Hair of the dog, Laney. Drink up.”)
We met in London, developed a mutual girl crush over pints at the local pub. We complemented each other nicely in those days: both tall, both slim, both Bohemian chic. She was the brunette; I was the blonde. Near identical versions of each other with interchangeable hair; like limited edition Barbies.
The height of our friendship was in London. Having no responsibilities suited us well. Swank bars, shady after-hours lounges, ending up at 4 a.m. in a trust-fund-purchased apartment in South Kensington with men who were raised by nannies in Manhattan and didn’t have straight answers to the question “so what do you do?”
We saw something in each other, a mutual goal that bound us at the hip and sent us out into the night – lots of skin, tasteful makeup, tousled hair, high heels. All in pursuit of a drink, a bar, a man, an experience that would make us feel fabulous. Make us feel less like the well-adjusted, educated, advantaged daughters of upper middle class homes that we were and more like the mysterious fashionistas we idolized.
Back in the States, things changed. She went off to Los Angeles (“I look better with a tan, Laney”) and lost herself further. She sent photos of herself with celebrities in various states of inebriation. She signed her e-mails “kisses, darling,” developed a penchant for coke and incessantly complained to my voice mail about not being able to find a man.
I stayed in New York and found not only myself, but a man who loved me without the makeup and the high heels and the status. I realized that the girl I was in London with was a facade. I had been aiming for a status I didn’t even want, something I recognized the first time I set foot in a much-touted Meatpacking District hotspot and saw right through everyone there.
Her being back after four years induces butterflies in my stomach, in my chest. A walking, talking, name-dropping warning sign of what I could have become, of the track I had committed myself to.
I love her, because I know who she is when the Chloe top and Hollywould shoes come off. I know who she is in her pajamas, eating Ben & Jerry’s Half-Baked out of the carton, giggling about a boy, allowing her true self to seep through.
I just wish I got to see that side of her more often.