Trials of the 20-something with “Frances Ha”

4 Jun

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I’ve longed for a best friend my whole life. I used to dream about finding my “bosom buddy” a la Anne of Green Gables, a girl who just got me, who understood my deepest fears and rooted for my successes and shared my passions. I wanted someone I could camp with, and take road trips with, and have sleep-overs with. I wanted someone to go adventuring with. Zack, from everything I’d previously gleaned, had been able to experience this* and has, impressively, kept up with his friends from over the years. But when we discussed that kind of friendship at the movie’s end, we both agreed we’d never met our match** quite like Frances and Sophie.

*I’ve had my share of best friends. The closest I had to something like Frances and Sophie is my friend Jonathan, when we were inseparable in a way that only overnight camp friends can be.

**Ever since Andy and I decided to major in journalism and minor in music and then start Festival Crashers together, we’ve certainly been a match and talk every day, but didn’t quite have the share-everything-uber-personal relationship aspect. 

The main characters of this film met in college and are thick as thieves. They sleep in the same bed frequently, get a glow about them whenever they’re together, have inside jokes (AHOY, SEXY!) and private weird habits like play-fighting*. And this is the story of how they learn to grow together, apart.

*It only underscores how close they are when Francis tries to replicate this with another friend and it fails miserably.

It’s a familiar story. While I’ve never had a Sophie to my equally very awkward, equally hanging-by-my-nails-poor Frances-ian existence*, I’ve had parts of that friendship throughout my life. I think, actually, that mine is a more typical story. We have many friends we deem “best” as we age, and we grow apart as circumstances change, as huge fights erupt out of jealousy or a sense of abandonment as the other person grows in a different direction, or even just out of a natural growing apart and moving away from one another. I’ve had the great fortune of having an adventurer, a free spirit, a traveling companion, a music junkie, a fashion junkie, and all sorts of in-between friends throughout my life. While I still feel the void of not achieving the “other half**” kind of friendship portrayed in this movie, I think that’s part of the point of the movie. Even that “other half” kind of friendship has to change and grow*** and mature into something different.

*Caitlin and I debated whether she’s more or less poor than Frances in the middle section of the movie. I’d argue that Frances may have slightly more cash at times, but Caitlin is way more stable.

**This is definitely something Caitlin thinks a lot about. Finding a “best friend.” What’s tricky is that these kinds of deep friendships develop from years and years of spending tons of times together. All my “best” friends are people I either went to overnight camp with or college with or both. Only one person who I’d consider for a groomsman is someone I met in Austin, and even that was four years ago. If you haven’t met that person by your mid-20s, it’s going to take a lot of time for those deep friendships to form, and if you’re in a serious relationship, those friendships are even harder to form. Of course they can form at any age, but it takes a lot of work and patience and time together. I wasn’t going to comment on this observation, but after meditating on it I have to say I disagree, in some ways. I absolutely believe there is something to be said for growing over time with someone, and the closeness that brings. But Zack and I have only been together for two and a half years, and although it’s different since we’re also ~in romantic love~, I consider him one of my best friends, and we got close very quickly. As a matter of fact, since you can be more discerning in your friendships the older you get, I think some of those friendships can be even truer, because you’re not just coming together based on time-and-space circumstances. There’s hope for me yet!

***Great point. My great friendships have totally changed as we’ve gone through the trials and tribulations of living together or how to stay close when one of us moved away and still find a way for it to work and for us to work together. These days most of my best friends don’t live in Texas, so I’m over-active on g-chat and calling them to check in.

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It’s just like my relationship with Zack. We’ve gone through all kinds of stages together*, and had ups and downs that keep blossoming to a next-level of intimacy. It’s what life does. It forces growth inside of you and forces you to make decisions based on more than just your knee-jerk desires.

*Similar to friendships, except that Caitlin and I have gotten closer and closer as we live together, while that isn’t the case for most of my friends. And we’ve struggled being on different schedules, but really grown together, which is most important.

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Frances, ultimately, has to choose to take charge. She has to agree to the unpleasantries and imperfections of life in order to get to where she really wants to be. This movie is about that tricky time in your mid to late twenties where you’re old but not old — where, as Frances is described by a younger counterpart, you look old, but like you don’t have your shit* together.

*I can certainly identify with that. I was still a mess in my mid 20s.

Luckily for Frances and for me, we both have someone who, in a crowded place, we can look at from across the room in a cozy, I-love-you-so-much kind of way. I met mine at a music festival two and a half years ago, and I’m glad I’ve held his gaze* while we build up our lives.

*Always.

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