002: Katie Beth and Katie

Katie Beth & Katie

They met in college in Chicago, Illinois.

Katie Beth and Katie met on Halloween of 2010, introduced by mutual friends at their college, DePaul University. On New Years Day, they sat with me to tell the story of how they became friends, how they became friends again, and all the ways and reasons why they remain friends. I loved talking with them because they were really just talking to each other. They have such an ease in talking openly about their friendship and each other out loud that could be beneficial, if not scary, in many relationships. Something they value in each other and results from their closeness and trust is honesty and that openness. They both seem committed to meeting each other half way and supporting each other on a level that goes beyond encouragement and is more akin to wanting to be part of someone’s journey through life, even if the decisions that the other might make aren’t the decisions that they would have made.

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a poem by katie beth for katie
This week, I feel less friendless and brooding than last, which I owe to simultaneous netflix watching and an increase in gchats with you, best friend,
I know the danger in keeping a diary: exaggeration, a raid on an inarticulated past, of which the lighter moments are a yawn, and the heavier, a needless chart of poor decisions made well, predicating and withholding my future;
then, I wonder, how many memories could I manipulate on paper, before I became someone else,
before it’s symbolic suicide?
Authorial vanity, I will write, according to the opinion of New Criticism,–the entry breaks with a comma, and I will not begin another one for several years.
I have a question for you, best friend: Which color lipstick is trending? I have another question: Are my feelings vulgar because I speak them too quickly?
Your answers, both in the same breath and always timely (always there when you call / always on time), are as convincing as they are correct,
as brutally honest and loving as we were at 18 on Halloween.
It’s Halloween again soon, but now the majority of things that I used to believe are false and Thank God for my Good Sense and our shared agreement to keep going,
the unspoken reinforcement that I require on days when I feel the need to survive myself,
and all of my bones are broken and my scar stories get jumbled–it was either a Coke can or a cat–not even my own body is as reliable a narrator as you, but
do you often feel like a series of creeks feeding into other people? To me, you are the Gulf and the Ocean, and occasionally the Straits, an agreed upon meeting place.
I googled the Straits, and stumbled upon the most obnoxious photo caption: “Patrick Hemingway, a grandson of Ernest, puffs on a Cuban cigar en route from Havana to Key West,”
cut to me romanticizing suicide in Idaho–a euphemism for the sad boy aesthetic, “He’s killing himself in Idaho,”
we’ll say while swiping left.
I feel my phone buzz, roll over, and silence my 6:30 am alarm; a fresh wave of exhaustion slaps my face an hour before it does yours. I read a missed text: Why are we so miserable? 11:37pm
you knew I was asleep. I swear, recommending therapy has replaced good night XO, but truthfully, to be listened to by anyone but you feels inadequate, and neither of us need be a shrinked violet–stoop down,
let me part your hair like blinds and hide; tucked in the crook of your neck, I bear witness to both the little cries and the heaving, shoulder-shaking sobs,
and send down my hand to hold your own and to occasionally wipe the countertop clean when you turn away
(You are messy, not a mess).
This is all to say that when I can’t sleep, when the realization hits me that I can’t predict which people will be which, I transport myself to your college bedroom,
the one next to the subway station, where many times a day, the apartment would shake and shake and shake.
At first, it irked me. I stayed over, awake at night transporting myself to a different bedroom, but eventually, the movement lulled me into a deep sleep and understanding of the habituating of things. From then on,
I knew that without my sad, soggy places, I would not have nearly as much to offer you,
best friend, also know that I worry
I feel regret so keenly it makes fear emotion more than eventual death, which is why I ask you
through drunken phone calls and weeks of silence, when an oral resuscitation misrepresents and words by my own hand lie, to please,
keep the true story of me in circulation.

From Katie Beth

What is one song that reminds you of each other?
Something Corporate’s “I Kissed A Drunk Girl”

What is your favorite picture of her?
She took down her FB page. So I can’t find it. But it’s one of her with hoop earrings.

If she called you after midnight, what would it be about? 
General existentialism. Loneliness (feat. Britney Spears, 1998).

What do you miss about living in the same state?
Nothing compares to sitting on the couch with your best friend and having her pet your head while shit-talking boys on the Innernet.

What would happen if you were to live together, in the same home?
We would murder each other. She would probably win the murder. It would definitely be about her hair being everywhere.

What is your perspective on female friendships in general? What are the stereotypes versus your lived experience? How does your friendship with her relate to those stereotypes about female friendships, or other relationships in your life?
My mother has strong friendships with the women in her life. I have always admired and desired those friendships. I grew up listening to my mom talk for hours on the phone with her best friends from her teenage and early twenty-something years, hoping that one day I would have similar loving relationships. I hold vivid images of my mother wiping the kitchen floor with paper towels and windex while clutching the house phone against her ear with her shoulder. Every other minute, it seemed, she would sit up to catch her breath from laughing. From a young age, I could tell that these conversations energized her and, some days, reminded her to keep going.

I know there were times where I was supposed to be made to feel frivolous in my female friendships, but I didn’t. I think the number one stereotype that I actively engage (-ed?) was the patriarchal female friendship as a competitive one. That’s a hard one to let go of because it’s fueled by so many different stimuli–but, I don’t think I’ve ever felt that way with Katie.

Our friendship falls in line more with the “OTP,” the “my person,” understanding of female friendship, which doesn’t feel like a negative trope. She loves me and knows me. We would do anything for each other.

Describe your friendship in one sentence.
I know you know that I know you know.

From Katie

What is one song that reminds you of each other?
Q.U.E.E.N. by Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu

If she called after midnight, what would it be about?
Whatever literally just happened to her. Also she would definitely be in transit. Probably a cab, possibly a bus, and occasionally on foot.

What do you miss about living in the same state?
Crying over the phone just isn’t the same. Sometimes she surprises me with baked goods. I just like calling and saying “see you in 20″ and meaning it.

What would happen if you were to live together, in the same home?
Katie Beth might murder me. I am so messy and she is not. Also, more emotional crying.

What is your perspective on female friendships in general? What are the stereotypes versus your lived experience? How does your friendship with her relate to those stereotypes about female friendships, or other relationships in your life?
Female friends were basically all I had until college and are still the most important relationships in my life. Female friendships empower and understand without event trying. I can be my whole true self around women, without worry or reservations.

I feel like stereotypical female friendship isn’t really friendship. It’s like a skeleton of what actual friendship is unless we live in the Parks and Rec universe (my favorite one.) Friendship is seen as less important/valuable than romantic love. But friendship is formative and supportive.

It’s hard to compare because I feel like the stereotypes are hollow shells of reality. Stereotypical friendship is distorted. But our friendship is never competitive or unkind. We always want the other to succeed and to help give each other the foundation to achieve what we want to.

My favorite gift from her?
A Paul Rudd necklace and also her eternal confidence in me but also that Paul Rudd necklace.

My ideal gift for her?
A bank rolled vacation somewhere that isn’t too hot. #oviedo


KM: It was the first time you ever slept over in my dorm room.


KBW: In your dorm room, in your bed because you had the most comfortable bed


KM: My mom really went looks.


KBW: She went looks.
It’s freshman year second quarter.

It was you and me in your bed. Morgan in her bed and Emily in her bed.
I want to tell it but I don’t want to get it wrong because it’s so cute.


KM: I’m here to correct you


KBW: We were all winding down and it was one of those college nights where you stay up really late and just talk and talk and its a cute sleepover and we are new friends and we have so much to learn from each other.
It was winding down and getting quiet
I had prepped with Katherine the night before to be like I have to tell them. They have to know.
Jeananne was like, just say it its no big deal. Nobody cares.


KM: I mean, she’s right


KBW: I know she’s right but, it was a moment.


KM: You’re right; it was a moment. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to not validate your feeling. It was a moment.


KBW: So, winding down. It’s quiet. I need to say something before people go to bed so I kind of sit up. And there’s a mirror on Katie’s desk.


KM:Which I still have even though its broken.


KBW:  It’s shattered. It’s one of those circle mirrors with a regular mirror on one side and on the other side there’s a magnified mirror. I’m spinning it and playing with it.
And you are like okay, what are you doing.
The first thing that i say is, “So we’re friends right?”
And I can feel you like, yes it’s happening! And you’re like “Mhm, yes.”
What did I say?


KM:You chickened out for a minute.


KBW:  I chickened out hard.


KM:You chickened out. You were like, “Oh, never mind.” And then we were like, “no tell us.” You chickened out and we were like, “You don’t have to tell us.” But then Emily was like, “Yes, you do.”


KBW: And then I said, “I have a girlfriend.”


KM: And I said I know. It was a real Han Solo moment for me.
And I haven’t thrown out that mirror because it’s so sentimental. It’s the coming out mirror.

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