I am notoriously obtuse when it comes to pop culture. Except that I now know that Notorious himself is dead, which my friend Britt had to not-so-gently inform me of embarrassingly not-so-long ago. I am not sure why my brain cannot seem to retain important tidbits related to our societal fabric, but it just cannot.
Like many things in life, this is good, and bad. Good for the famous person a few inches away from me, finally able to bask in anonymity, but bad when I was trying to grow my business ‘organically.’
That said, my company maintained a steady roster of clients for one-on-one work, for which with the “famous” people, the process usually went like this:
Lauren, opens an email from an anonymous personal assistant and replies with price and availability.
Assistant, counters instantly, asking for a discount because their boss “is famous.”
Lauren, replies when she sees the email, on average an hour after said assistant has sent a second and third email implying that their life is going to be over if they do not get a session booked for their “famous” boss.
From there, a fork in the road.
Either Assistant agrees upon price, place, and time…. or crickets.
When the former:
Assistant, concurs and retorts with an insinuated demand for Lauren to be grateful because their boss, insert “famous” person’s name, was soon to be a client.
Lauren, ignores the passive aggressiveness, heads straight to google, types in “famous” person’s name, educates herself on yet another pop culture superhero she did not recognize, and continues on with the day.
This back and forth proceeded almost identically for the entire decade of my business when it involved “everyone that was ‘somebody’” as we unfortunately categorize it, until that one day she elegantly sauntered in, smiles, sweetness, and pure love.
Not long after the session, my boyfriend, now husband, called to see what the plan for dinner was. Tacos, clearly, but more importantly, I had just seen the coolest tattoo on said new client. Upon hearing what it looked like, he told me to, yet again, walk over to google, and open two windows, one with a description of the tattoo, the other with ‘Who’s That Girl?’. Apparently, I had a comedic mansplainer on my hands. Alas, I wanted to know.
As the music started and images of my new client popped up, I quickly ascertained that the woman that had just left the studio was my most favorite rapper, and took a moment to thank god for google.
In the entire unlikelihood of likelihoods of life events, she and I have become fast friends, ditching the professional relationship and focusing on the good stuff. Polar opposite upbringings, family structures, skin colors, and careers, but more similar inside than most other people I know. We just jive.
Which is why, while we were both living in London a few years ago, I could not understand what was going on. There she was, so talented, so accomplished, so wow, taking a step back. Breathing. Saying no. Thinking. Saying yes. Learning. Sleeping. Discovering. Exploring. Considering her next move.
I, on the other hand, was firmly cemented to mine, clamoring forward like a raging bull, ticking off interviews, conquering massive stages, innovating, building, writing non-stop, doing that thing and everything I thought I had to do to be me.
Meanwhile, over strolls together in Hyde Park and fairly heinous wine at the pubs, I would naively, selfishly, beg my friend to jump off the wagon, to write, to sing, to create, to dive back in and accompany me on the societally reinforced trajectory of producing more and more and more. To which she would just say to me, “Naaaahhhh, girl.” And so, naaaahhhh it was.
Years later, the record has flipped. I am where she was when we were both in London, and she is taking off soaring through a fabulous new chapter. Being on this side “ain’t so easy,” as she would say; I get it now.
There is beauty, sure, majesty, often, but the B side is filled with mental twirling and self doubt, societal pressure and self deprecation. You know there is magic, but you cannot see it, progress but you cannot feel it, transformation but you cannot measure it. But you keep going, because you have to. Because faith tells you to. Because deep, deep inside, you know there is something patiently waiting to come out.
Whether in terms of career, relationships, health, or politics, first observing and now living both sides of the record has shown me that life is not a linear series of propulsions taking you to the highest note, but rather, like the best music, an unpredictable cacophony of exponentially reverberating tones that together create one song, one album, one story.
My story is just again starting to come out with prose, hers with music, and now a podcast appropriately called Constantly Evolving. Mine, less cool, for sure, which is why when I got ready to sit down and write this eve, I naturally had to drop the beats.