In college I had a friend, one who in today’s parlance would admittedly be considered a frenemy, who swore that once we graduated, she would move to Los Angeles and become an actress. At a time when most of us were perfecting keg stands and wearing pajamas to our morning classes, she was cultivating an air of worldly sophistication with pencil skirts and martinis. She would regale us with tales—true or otherwise—of her trips to Europe and seduction of much older men. She would commandeer any conversation drifting into the quotidian concerns of 20-year-old life and point it firmly towards the gleaming expanse of the future. She was the first to tell you that she was on her way to grander things, the likes of which the small midwestern mind could only dream. Needless to say, we quickly fell out of touch once college was over. But like many people who don’t necessarily care for one another in the real world, we became friends on Facebook.
As far as I can glean from her posts, this would-be actress and bon vivant lives somewhere in the hinterlands of suburban LA and has no interests beyond her children. Her Facebook presence is an endless procession of images from Christmas pageants, trick-or-treating, and family vacations unfailingly spent on the beach. Gone are the diatribes on the superiority of French viticulture and vows to appear on screen before age 25. In their place are reports of the most recent tooth lost and an adorable request that the pool be filled with pudding. By all appearances, she is living an ideal upper-middle-class life in sunny southern California. Still, I can’t help but look at her and think that she sacrificed herself along the way—that in essence, she failed.