Post- Magazine

falling in love with your friends [A&C]

on being known so well

We’re all wrapped together under a blanket on an air mattress that’s too small for us. She’s in the middle and my head is on her shoulder. Your head is on her other one. The three of us all have dark brown curly hair and now our curls spill seamlessly onto the pillows. You’re talking about your plans to get a tattoo once we’re back at school in a few weeks. You tell us you’ve sketched out an orange to put on your back, split into two quarters and a half. Just like in that Wendy Cope poem, “The Orange,” the one that says, “I love you, I’m glad I exist.”

Tomorrow she’s taking us to San Francisco. We’re only staying in her hometown for a few days and she wants to show us her world, wants us to see where her memories live, and the places that created her. I think it’s so strange that other people met both of you before I did, and I envy the people who will always know you a bit better than I do. To catch up on the missed parts, during the few days we’re in the Bay, we’ve started a ritual: every night, the three of us squeeze onto this air mattress together—only really meant for one or two people—and talk about the things we love, tell stories, imagine all of the adventures we’ll go on next semester when we live in the same place again.


The light is dim and the room is hazy. Suddenly it seems so quiet and familiar, like it could have been my childhood bedroom, too. Like maybe I never really missed anything.


Last January, boygenius announced their return by releasing three singles off their first LP, the record: “$20,” “Emily, I’m Sorry,” and “True Blue.” You were so thrilled; I had only met you a few months earlier, but even then I loved anything you loved just by seeing it through your eyes—your excitement was so infectious.

“True Blue” is a love song. It’s a song about the unconditional, about the enduring. But it’s not about a partner—it’s about a best friend. It’s about Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus’s adoration for each other, an adoration that is revealed further in another track off the record, aptly titled “We’re In Love.” In “True Blue,” Lucy sings, “It feels good to be known so well.”

I had never wanted to be known so well. Last January, when I first heard the song, I found it astoundingly unrelatable. I thought that being known was the most excruciating and humiliating endeavor, and I hated the idea of opening myself up to scrutiny, to hurt. Opening myself up to the possibility that I could let myself depend on someone and then I could lose them. I related much more to a lyric off “Leonard Cohen,” another track from the record: “I might like you less now that you know me so well.”



Our curls blow wild and the air tastes bright. You’re bundled in her windbreaker and she’s cartwheeling down the beach and I’m laughing so hard that my stomach hurts. The Golden Gate Bridge glows in the distance, warm in the afternoon sunlight. She turns around and we run toward her, throw our arms around her, spin, feet carving divots in the sand, heads tossed back to the sky. Wind rushes through the wool of my sweater and makes my eyes water. 

Later tonight we will leave our shoes at her front door and her mom will make us soup for dinner. I will forget my shampoo and conditioner in her bathroom and it will stay there even after we leave.


Many casual listeners would claim that “True Blue” is about a romance. And many within the band’s devoted fanbase would be quick to rebut that it’s not romantic, and that the virtue of the song lies in its celebration of the purely platonic. 

But I say they’re both wrong. In my own experience, bonds between queer women—whether between the members of boygenius or my own friends—possess a uniquely beautiful power to transcend the conventional categorizations of romantic versus platonic love to unlock some “secret third thing”: falling in love with your friends. I don’t mean the stereotype of lesbians forming labyrinthine webs of who dated who—I mean the adoration and intimacy that is cultivated between girls who love girls. This brave kind of vulnerability, this easy kind of affection.


It’s last fall and we’re in the middle of the woods, standing at the edge of a pond in our bathing suits. Braced against the mid-November chill, our skin is drenched golden by the sliding afternoon sun. The last few remaining leaves dance dappled crimson on the trees around us. She smiles at me and grabs my hand, lacing her fingers through mine and squeezing tight. “Now!” We rush forward into the water, the icy chill biting into our bones. I’m shrieking and you’re cheering and she’s laughing. Finally we are in up to our shoulders and our curls fan languid in the water around us. I am so cold I can barely breathe, and I look at her. She is backlit by the hazy November afternoon sun and I feel almost as though I am living inside a memory–missing something before it’s even over. You’re behind me and I turn around and when you see me looking at you, you wave brightly, lit up by the sun. 


“I remember who I am when I’m with you” is another line from “True Blue,” another one that I struggled to understand for a long time. I scorned the idea that anyone could teach me anything about myself, that my identity could in any way be wrapped up by someone else. I selfishly imagined myself separate, discrete, interacting with everyone in some muffled capacity as though I were underwater.

But then I met you. And slowly I fell in a special kind of love with you, that secret third thing. I fell in love with how you don’t like oranges even though you want to get an orange tattoo, with how you stand by my side through everything. How I’ve never felt alone since I met you. 

Then we met her, and we fell in love with her warmth, her smile, her sunshine. How she opens her heart and leaves everything better than she found it.

Suddenly that lyric, which had bugged me so much, made total sense. All at once, “I remember who I am when I’m with you” meant that by falling in love with my friends, I chose to embrace a reciprocal openness and a support system. And the lyric reveals a depth to relationships that should not be limited by any arbitrary boundary. Falling in love with your friends and being known so well are irrevocably intertwined, and letting myself be known has made our moments together saturated with beauty and meaning. Now, in “Leonard Cohen,” the lyric I love most is, “I never thought you’d happen to me.” How lucky I am that you did.

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