I've seen Frances Ha twice now and have seriously had to practice self-discipline to not go see it a third time in the theater. The first time I saw it was with a friend; after we got a beer at Tower Cafe and tallked at length about the film's central themes of female friendship, change and the concept of growing up.
These are things that often cross my mind. I have many good friends in my life. A bona fide best friend. Several people with whom I'd trust my deepest secrets. And yet. I often think about the friendships that have fallen away, been broken irrevocably or slowly drifted and shape-shifted into something that either party no longer recognizes. While a few people I know have dismissed the film pointless, meandering and self-indulgent on the part of its writer, actress Greta Gerwig. Gerwig's portrayal of a 27-year-old New Yorker (by way of Sacramento) struck deep nerves. The scenes in Paris resonated in particular. As that song by Hot Chocolate plays, we see the title character: moored alone in a bed, wandering the streets and finally, anchored at a cafe table. These reminded me so much of being around that age. When I was 27 my life changed radically (that's fodder for another post) and I found myself having to build (and rebuild) relationships. Old bonds were broken and new ones were strengthened, sometimes so intensely that it felt like I was forming a new layer of skin, a new sense of self. It was heady and gratifying and lovely.
When one of those relationships shattered, however, I felt as though I'd broken up with a significant other. The heartbreak was just as palpable, the dissolution left me as mired in sadness as if we'd signed divorce papers.
Not every shift in friendship is dramatic of course. Sometimes they just change, ever-so-slowly, over the course of time until suddenly you realize things are different than how they started out. That's not always a bad thing. Lives changes, priorities shift, people grow up and move on. If you're careful you find ways to hold onto old ties, however lightly. You find a way to include the past with the present and the future. Sometimes of course you just leave someone behind, purposefully. Some people must be left behind.
Of course, it's kind of hard to remember that when you're the one left in the dust. Sometimes it hurts like hell even when it's not particularly acrimonious. Sometimes you don't even know it hurts like hell until something reminds you of what once was--an old photograph, a ticket stub.
And then sometimes it's all just pleasant nostalgia. Those, of course, are the best kinds of memories about the ghosts of friendship past.