November 24, 2010


at Bonnaroo 2009
At the end of the week, my best friend is turning 30. I've been thinking about her and about friendship in general. She, by the way, isn't sweating the turning 30 thing. I'm the one who's lying awake at night thinking about wrinkles.

The year before I graduated college, I met Molly among the cubicles at Metro Pulse, the alternative weekly newspaper that we both wrote for in Knoxville. At the time, she was the secretary, and I was the intern. Then she became a staff writer. Then I became the secretary. Then I became a staff writer. We were staff writers together. Then I got fired. But that's another story.

This story is about Molly. And about friendship in general. 

I was intimidated by Molly because she seemed so cool and smart and motivated about things. I'd been hanging out with stoners for a couple of years and had sort of forgotten what that was like. She's the type of girl who made straight A's in high school and didn't sleep through any of her classes in college. She'd traveled the world by the age of 20. She moved to New York City on a whim. She came with two duffel bags and her Boston Terrier, and she slept on the floor of a friend of a friend until she could figure out what she was going to do. She's always doing stuff like this. Now she lives in Tucson, where she's renting an insanely adorable house from Neko Case and going to law school so that she can one day fight to protect immigrant rights

in Tucson, 2010
Molly has two sisters, and the three of them are all different variations on the word beautiful. These sisters are sort of like The Virgin Suicides without the suicides. I'm an only child so when I first met Molly and everyone was still in Knoxville, I rolled around in these sisters — their love for one another, their vicious fights, the meals they made — like a puppy. Molly and I have had vicious fights of our own. Neither of us are short on opinions or shy to express them. I don't like to think of them, but when I do, I like to think that our fights mean we are like sisters. 
in Cookeville, 2008
I value different things in a friendship than a lot of people. I feel like most people put loyalty and trust and comfort and conversation at the tops of their lists. I like all of those things, too, but the two things I really can't live without are respect (as in, I need to respect my friend) and inspiration (as in, I need to feel inspired by my friend). Molly does all of this in spades. She also does us both a favor by living in cool places where I want to visit. 

When she lived in New York, I went to see her every few months. For so long I had dreamed myself of living there, and I felt electric to be rattling around on the subway, cramming into tiny restaurants, and meeting Molly's friends at rooftop parties. 
New York, 2007
After one visit to the city, I got home to Nashville and immediately wrote some terrible essay trying to explain what it felt like to have a cab drop me off in front of Molly's grungy apartment building. To see her come banging out from some unsuspecting warehouse door, looking impossibly luminous in a little bohemian outfit, embracing me, taking me up four flights of stairs to her charming, un-airconditioned apartment where we ate expensive cheese and drank wine over a floral tablecloth and looked out her window at a wild city garden below. The essay was ridiculous. I never finished it. It was too gushy. I sounded like some sort of lesbian. 

But the truth is that the way I feel for the women who I love is almost as complex and as simple as the love I feel for Nekos. Molly was my maid of honor at my wedding; she held my bouquet while I told Nekos I would love him forever. The evening Tessa was born she was one of the first ones there, bursting through the door to my hospital room with an armful of yellow flowers. 
my wedding, 2006
March 23, 2010: Tessa Jean arrives!
When I picture Molly, it's aproned with a wooden spoon in her hand, stirring a pot. I don't know if she actually uses wooden spoons, but it doesn't matter. She cooks with relish. I cook to get it done, so I can get to the wine drinking and the dinner conversation. But she actually, really likes to cook. 

I was looking around for some but, there aren't very many pictures of me and Molly. Mostly just the ones I posted here. The only thing I can figure is that we're too busy talking to take any pictures. 


  1. My eyes are filled with tears, Ellen! As you know, I have the same intense love affair with one of the "puppies." Your words capture me and my cup runneth over with the same kinds of emotions that you express for Molly. I have always felt such a connection to you and maybe it all goes back to me being an only child and craving the type of friendship that only comes from a true "sister." My Rachel is that for me. I am so glad that Molly does that for you.

  2. This is SSSSOOOOO amazing to have our "love affair" documented like is just so sweet. I love all the pics, especially the one on the truckbed. LOL, I had no idea that was your impression of me in that Brooklyn apt, how funny. I think the good cheese was like some sort of apology for how dingy I thought my place was! I miss it now, too. BUT, I think change is good. I can't believe we have Tessa Jean in our lives now and I wish we could just sit on the porch in the sun and watch her grow....well, that is what you are doing I guess, but I wish I could, too! You also forgot to mention that you introduced me to my love! which is pretty crazy, really. I love that you love my sisters so much, and you and Lash will truly always be part of our family. I can't begin to match the loveliness of your words, but just know that this means the absolute world to me. "we were so high...up I mean."

  3. oh and, you aren't the only one sweating getting older...Rocky looked at me and laughed when we were reading your post about the different creams for morning and night, b/c he makes fun of me for the same thing! I think I just get excited about change and how you never know what's next. I look forward to being a catty old lady with you, sitting on rockers and getting Nekos to make us more moscow we just have to figure out how to live in the same town one of these days! love, Mols