Original post January 15, 2013
I met Jodi Foster for a brief and stunning moment in my life, in a Connecticut mall. She was a student at Yale University and I was a high school student in a near-by town. She was alone, shopping, comparatively looking far more sophisticated then me. I was hanging out with my two guy friends who were acting like goof-balls. I said to my friends, “Hey, look! I think that’s Jodi Foster over there!” They either did not know who Jodi Foster was or did not care because they were having a lot of fun catching shoppers attention the level below us who hopelessly looked about, wondering where the greeting they heard came from
Jodi looked at me, smiled, and laughed a bit. I think she saw the humor of the scene I was in with my friends before I did. Boys being boys and a girl enjoying being annoyed with them. As we passed each other, she nodded with a slow blink of the eyes, as if to tell me, “Yeah, it’s me. They’ll never get it. This exchange is just between us.”
For thirty years until last night, that was my story of meeting Jodi Foster.
After listening to Jodi’s lifetime award speech on the Golden Global awards, I re-thought our encounter. Maybe she was thinking, “Yeah, those wonderful goof-ball buddies of yours will never get your excitement and how lucky for you to be in that scene, living such a normal teenage life that I will never know.”
And I thought how normal my growing up years were. I did not suffer any diseases nor did anyone in my family. My parents are still alive and married, to each other. No one died unexpectedly. Not in my family. Not among my friends. Not in any of my classes. No one I knew went to war. My life has come with privacy easily, unlike Jodi Foster’s. She’s had to fight for it her whole life, and for a life that felt real and honest.
Jodi and I are about the same age. While we both moved to Connecticut around the same time, she was attending an ivy league college and an already famous actor. I was a junior in a high school I moved to in my sophomore year and I was shy. While she privately grappled with her gender preference, I was busy figuring out who I was in this preppy New England town where no one knew me like the way it was in the town I was born and raised in. Our lives were about as different as could be, but in that moment, we were both just young girls connecting, and maybe marveling at each other’s lives. It just never occurred to me that she could be marveling at mine.
This morning as I write this, I feel a fresh gratitude for my life. For the ease with which I’ve been blessed. For the hard lessons and sorrows I eventually did have and do know. I am grateful to Jody Foster for saying in her speech what is true for her and echoing what is in my heart. To strive for an authentic life. And most important, to love people and stay beside them.
She remains my hero.