by MIA FREEDMAN
This week I heard two pieces of news. One made me happy, the other sad and the strength of both emotions was unexpected.
Involuntarily, I clasped my hands together in a weird kind of hybrid clap/prayer. “Oh!” I repeated. “That’s awesome!” As the news quickly circulated, small squeals and yelps could be heard each time it reached another woman in the office.
Our joy was genuine and there was something else there too: relief. “Thank God!” exclaimed one. “Finally!” exclaimed another. We all nodded and beamed. Wait, stop.
What an absurd reaction from people who know nothing about Jennifer Aniston’s life except for what we read and imagine in our heads and maybe talk about over wine with our girlfriends and sometimes our mothers ever since 2005 when her then-husband Brad Pitt ran off with Angelina and they established their photogenic rainbow family with astonishing speed.
That. There, I said it. Yes, I am relieved that Jennifer is engaged because I’ve been worried about her on and off for seven years. Reading that sentence back just now, I do sound a lot like a crazy person. I’ll cop that. So will my husband with whom I’ve never discussed Jennifer Aniston because he would have little to contribute.
To confirm this, I asked him this week if he’d thought about her since The Divorce. Puzzled silence. “No. Why would you?” Top question. Seriously, I can’t quite identify why so many women reacted to Jennifer Aniston’s engagement with a “Yay! Phew!”. Why am I emotionally invested in someone I’ve never met?
Jennifer doesn’t even want my investment. For seven years in 1000 interviews she’s tried gamely to knock the ghosts of Brad and Angelina off her lap. And yet they’re still there, obscuring our vision of a 43 year old woman who swears she’s content. NO REALLY.
While Brad’s narrative has moved at whiplash pace Aniston has been typecast as The Sad Girl in a movie called “Why Can’t This Woman Get A Man?” despite insisting she doesn’t need one to complete her.“If I’m the emblem for ‘This is what it looks like to be the lonely girl getting on with her life,’ then so be it.” she shrugged in 2009. “It’s fine. I can take it. I can make fun of myself.” Later that year she added, “I have a really great relationship with myself and that’s a lifelong process. I have a great job, a great family and great friends. I have my health and I love what I do.”
In 2010, there was this: “I think it’s about really finding that person that means something and not settling. There are a lot of single people who are as happy as a lark. There are a lot of married people not as thrilled as they would like to be.” And in 2011, this: “I’m really happy,” she told People magazine. “Really!” Just a few months ago, her patience wore thin: “It’s very narrow-minded, I think. [Being unmarried] doesn’t measure the level of my happiness or success in my life or my achievements.”