The last morning in our college house, captured by a friend
I Know All My Friends’ Secrets
I want my platonic love to matter in the way that romantic love does.
By margaret Davenport
I got a friend
Ooh, I've got a friend
And she's got a friend too
- Maggie Rogers
My friend Rach thinks Maggie Rogers should have left “I’ve Got a Friend” off her album Surrender. She hates the lyric, “Oh, I've got a friend who's been there through it all / Masturbates to Rob Pattinson staring at the wall,” because she thinks Rogers wrote it to shock the listener and, therefore, it isn’t shocking at all and is trying too hard. I see this line as the result of my friend fucking up—admitting something silly and embarrassing that I will relentlessly make fun of for the rest of my life. Your most stupid confession? That’s going in my future book. It brings me neverending joy to know my friends’ weird secrets.
I can understand why “I’ve Got a Friend” could be your least-favorite track on Surrender. It’s plucky and campfire-esque compared to the rest of the songs. Similarly, “It’s Nice to Have a Friend” feels much quieter than the rest of Taylor Swift’s Lover. Where are the platonic power ballads? I am always adapting love songs to be about my girlfriends: “L-O-V-E” by Nat King Cole, “Steal My Girl” by One Direction, “Today Was A Fairytale” by Taylor Swift. Everyday I am thankful I can interpret “Where You Lead” by Carole King as she (and the producers of Gilmore Girls) intended. I want more songs like “Till Forever Falls Apart” by Ashe and FINNEAS, which has lyrics I can both believe and bellow, like, “I guess there's nothing more romantic than dying with your friends.” The first YouTube video I ever saw was Dionne Warwick, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Gladys Knight singing “That’s What Friends Are For.” I can still recite every word of it.
Thematically, “I’ve Got a Friend” stands alone within an album focused on desire and unrequited love. Healthy friendship may not seem like it has a place in pining and, consequently, “I’ve Got a Friend” doesn’t belong on Surrender. But I’ve lived my fair share of unrequited loves and I was never lonely. For every man I’ve tried to impress, there is a legion of women getting ready early so they have time to do my makeup before we go to a party. We’ve shared what I wouldn’t share with anyone else: underwear, chewing gum, first kisses, and wisdom teeth (my best friend’s sits on top of my work-from-home desk). Although I chased romance through high school and college, always a few steps behind, I was constantly and unquestioningly loved. Once, a male friend told me I was “one of the most loved people” that he knew. This isn’t a brag because he said it with surprise. So where are all the platonic love playlists? Does society find the stability of sisterhood boring? I don’t. I understand why writers love romance, but I’ve never written a poem for a boy.
I know what I am writing isn’t a new thought. In fact, I learned to write a decade after Steel Magnolias, Fried Green Tomatoes, and Thelma and Louise premiered. So why do I feel like being both single and loved is revolutionary? Especially since I entered my mid-twenties, people ask me about my dating life on a weekly basis. I want to be single and be a part of something grand and magical and limitless. I want my platonic love to matter in the way that romantic love does.
When I heard “I’ve Got a Friend” for the first time, I teared up. Listening to it is easy and goofy, but so is calling my best friend. Maybe that’s why there aren’t many power ballads about female friendship. There is often very little left unspoken between my girlfriends. There is no need for dramatic backing music and belting vocals. Our relationship is soft and honest and supportive. When I think about capturing my love for my friends in just a few short sentences, I imagine us just sitting on the couch or singing in the car. And if, in that moment, I were to reach over and grab one of my friends’ hands, I know she wouldn’t let go.
Photo taken by my mom