For the last few days, social media influencer and accused scammer Caroline Calloway has been both touting and very loudly (and publicly) dreading the publication of an essay in The Cut by Natalie Beach, a former friend she described in an Instagram post last week as “one of the two people I have hurt the most in this world.”
It dropped on Tuesday night (read here) and it’s as wild as Calloway’s lead-up promised.
Though there’ve been plenty of pieces digging into Calloway’s pitfalls—which have included $165 “creativity workshops” that totally fell apart, a $100,000 book advance for a book she never wrote, and a book proposal that, it turns out, was actually ghostwritten by Beach herself—Beach’s essay isn’t so much a tell-all list of grifts as it is an engrossing look at toxic friendship, envy, self-obsession, addiction, and what it feels like to love and be taken in by someone who seems to lack the capacity to love you back.
There are also some truly insane bits, like that Calloway was so obsessed with Yale (a school that rejected her), she had a box of school memorabilia:
Caroline first took an interest in me after I wrote an essay about growing up in New Haven. Yale was an obsession of hers; she’d been rejected and never got over it. The fact that I was a Yale townie won me an invitation to her West Village apartment, a studio painted Tiffany’s turquoise and filled with fresh orchids and hardcovers. “This is my Yale box,” she told me, sitting me on her white loveseat and showing me a shoe box of Handsome Dan and Beinecke-library memorabilia.
Or that after Beach got evicted from her apartment, Calloway told her she could stay in her West Village studio, then told her last minute she had to clean it for Airbnb guests instead:
“Caroline, I don’t want to be your maid,” I told her the next day over Skype. “I’m sorry I can’t help you out, but can you ask someone else?”
“Oh no, Natalie, I would,” she said, her new boyfriend sitting supportively next to her. “It’s just, you’re the only one of my friends who needs the money badly enough to take the job.”
Or that Calloway once left Beach at a bar in Amsterdam, locked her out of the Airbnb, and didn’t answer her phone, inadvertently forcing Beach to spend the night on the street:
I pushed past her, shedding my filthy clothes in the hallway. “You have no idea what I went through last night,” I remember shrieking. “Why didn’t you answer your phone?”
She told me she assumed I was home with the bartender.
“This is what I tried to tell you,” I said, and for the first time I broke down. I stood in front of her in just my leggings and a bra, sobbing stupidly. “Men treat me differently than they treat you. Everyone does.” I collapsed into the rented bed. Caroline hovered over me, weeping too. “And the really messed up thing is that whole night I thought something terrible had happened to you,” I said. “But you forgot I existed.”
There’s more in here, like that Beach was apparently promised 35 percent of Calloway’s $375,000 book deal to help ghostwrite and never saw any of the money after Calloway (who was apparently battling an Adderall addiction) failed to fulfill the contract, and that Calloway bought thousands of Instagram followers to jump-start #Adventuregrams, the account Beach also ghostwrote that made Calloway famous. But the essay’s big reveal is something we already know, but should never stop articulating: no matter how glamorous or enviable or unimpeachable a persona might be, there’s a good chance it’s all still a big human mess. Like the rest of us.
Calloway, who posted earlier this week that “[e]verything in Natalie’s article will be brilliant and beautifully expressed and true...because Natalie is the best writer I know,” added a link to the essay in her Instagram bio, so there’s that.
Read the whole thing at The Cut, and someone give Beach a book deal.