Some of the writers at The Cut recently interviewed Nicole and self about our friendship over the years; you can check it out here.
At this point, it’s pretty second-nature to think of and refer to myself as Danny or Daniel; I rarely have to remind myself that it’s my name or experience much in the way of disorientation. But there’s still an interrupted flow, for me at least, when I try to write Nicole and Danny. I’m not even sure I prefer it to Nicole and Daniel, or Danny and Nicole. I have to work hard not to write Nicole and Mallory, a combination that is always followed by an infinite number of possible combinations, like a series of Berenstain Bears titles: Nicole and Mallory Start A Business, Nicole and Mallory Learn About The Importance of Female Friendship, Nicole and Mallory Join A Band, Nicole and Mallory Have An Adventure, Nicole and Mallory Make A Mistake, Nicole and Mallory Are Not Afraid, Nicole and Mallory Find A Clue, Nicole and Mallory Share A Secret, Nicole and Mallory Pull Up A Chair, Nicole and Mallory Pull Up Short, Nicole And Mallory Find A Locked Door, Nicole and Mallory Escape To Total Friendship Island.
There are a number of challenges to maintaining a long-distance friendship, especially when there are children and partners and dogs and sex changes and religious conversions involved; part of the great game of our friendship is identifying Who am I to you? after a previous (or at least previous possible) category has been abandoned or pulled away; if not a business partner, if not a sister, if not a romantic prospect, if not a gal pal, solve for Nicole.
It was lovely, and very like us, to use a sort-of-professional excuse to get together and talk about our relationship. We have often used work, or the appearance of work, to justify navel-gazing and mutual admiration. We have also often arrived at serious, meaningful realizations about what we mean to one another, what we can give to one another that no one else can, during conversations at least ostensibly ordered around business. (For a while I thought that was what feminism was! Luckily, I was misinformed.)
Here’s Nicole on our first weekend spent in one another’s IRL company:
NICOLE: …the rest of the weekend we just spoke as Joan Fontaine in Rebecca to each other.
DANNY: It was just so immediately clear that we did love doing that kind of play together, like finding the right note for Joan Fontaine, which would always be like tremulous, anxious, and desperate, which is to say ourselves dating men at 21.
NICOLE: "Oh, I'm so terribly happy, Maxim. Are you happy? Maxim."
DANNY: And then with... Oh my God, why can't I remember the name of the most famous actor of all time. Nicole, help me out here. Who's the man in Rebecca?
NICOLE: Laurence Olivier.
DANNY: Thank you. Laurence Olivier. And he would be just like lazily crushing your dreams in every response so like, "I've never been happy. How dare you. How dare you accuse me of happiness."
NICOLE: In my life!
DANNY: Yeah, yeah.
NICOLE: —We were each constantly gauging to see if the other person was still having fun with this—
NICOLE: ...or if one of us had crossed the line into becoming tedious or too needy and that never happened.
And of course a real friendship, a lifelong friendship, involves moments where one or the both of us cross that line. As naturally in-tune with one another as we often are, and as conflict-avoidant as we both can be, this relationship is not one that’s solely dependent on consistency, uniformity, singleness of purpose. But there have been moments where we both feared that it might! The deeper reality, the profounder play, runs underneath that fear; that old-time patter, that call-and-response, that moment where one acknowledges that one has failed to remember or identify something important, but rests absolutely secure in the perfect assurance that their counterpart holds the key:
Nicole, help me out here. Who’s the man from Rebecca. You know. That sandwich I like. What’s the name of that ice cream I like, with the thing on the top. Oh, I can’t remember her name, but you know the girl I mean. My memory fails me and the waters here run deep – help me, or I sink.