This morning I put my best friend in a Lincoln Towncar to LaGuardia Airport, an early morning goodbye that didn’t process as profoundly as it should have since we were so tired. She went back to her home in Chicago after a weekend spent overfed on pizza and bagels, foods that don’t taste good anywhere but New York, and I felt obliged and happy to make sure she ate enough to be satisfied. I don’t see her so much since we parted ways after college, me to New York, her to the midwest. In between giant meals, we’d go to my apartment and watch the “Soldier” video and smoke packs of Camel Lights that we split, $6 each for an assurance that important moments are made better by unlimited tobacco.
“This is the best song because all three girls get to sing,” she said, nodding to Destiny’s Child’s tentative equality and solidarity on “Soldier”. We love solo Beyonce almost as a pagan leader, a pop culture Joan of Arc who needs no one. She embodies pop strength—the “Diva”, the “Ego”, the “Single Lady” of our dreams. But remembering Beyonce as a member of a group, even if she was the lead member, praying for a tough guy to keep up with somehow reminded us of our own friendship and bond. She was a part of a young trio when my friend and I were a duo in a shitty dorm on campus. We sang along, two extra call-and-response members of the group.
Beyonce solo has been great these past years (and we might be getting more with a new album in June), sublime, even, to see a girl doing her own thing. But I can’t help but notice how most of her video back-up dancers of late stand real close, placebo stand-ins for Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland. Maybe Beyonce misses “Soldier” more than she lets on, nostalgic for partners-in-crime that she doesn’t get to see as much even if she is happy for their success and her own. For all her independence, seems like Beyonce knows the very relatable fact that going it alone isn’t always ideal.