Don’t let the self-help title fool you, this The Rumpus essay by Emily Rapp is no schmaltzy ode to girls’ night and chick flicks. “Transformation and Transcendance: The Power of Female Friendship” is a slow-building, artfully arranged emotional symphony. Scratch that, it’s a roundhouse kick to your gut. A slow-building, artfully arranged roundhouse… yes, that sounds right.
It’s about girlfriends, yes, but it’s not about cosmos or cupcakes or Manolos. It’s about love. It’s about the moments in Sex and the City that resonate because of the underlying truths they dramatize: Charlotte’s fertility struggles, Samantha’s cancer diagnosis, Miranda’s mother’s death. You gather friends because they add laughter and joy and glitter and all things wonderful to your life, but it’s only when shit hits the fan, as it inevitably will, that you realize what a fucking solid rock all that glitter is heaped upon.
Did you see 50/50? A laugh/cry ratio that high is hard to pull off, but I really think they nailed it. At its heart, it was a movie about what happens when disaster strikes in that awkward period between fleeing the nest and building a new one. Your parents are thousands of miles away, you don’t have a spouse yet, you’ve only got your friends.
It’s the “only” in that sentence that I’m thinking about, and that Emily Rapp wrote about so eloquently. Too frequently we attribute to the spouse-less some sort of weird social failure, “Awww, look at you without your husband, you only have friends! How sad!” What a terrible attitude! Building the kinds of relationships that last a lifetime, like the Wrinklies in the Rumpus piece, or the Rogan/Gordon-Levitt bromance of 50/50, is amazing and inspiring and should be a thing we all hope to have. Those relationships are not the fall-back, not the consolation prize, not the thing to settle for if the partner game doesn’t work out.
Related Post: I wrote a response to Kate Bolick’s Atlantic piece about singledom.
Related Post: I’m preemptively angsting about friends leaving Chicago.