Thursday night, much more of the world met Marianne Williamson, best-selling self-help author, friend of Oprah, America’s stepmom, and the closest your tough-love therapist has ever come to the presidency, when she took the stage among a crowded field of Democratic candidates to fire off sound bites. During Thursday’s presidential debate you my have learned about Williamson’s charming disavowal of plans and passion for making phone calls. But did you know she was also once roommates with Laura Dern, an origin story anyone could be proud of? Yes, according to a May profile of Dern in the New York Times Magazine, the two lived together briefly when Dern was a 17-year-old actress and Williamson was a visionary homebody in her early 30s:
“After Dern finished her high school coursework a year early, her mother helped her attain legal emancipation, which made it easier to work. At 17, she moved into her own apartment, where her roommate was Marianne Williamson, the spiritual teacher and self-help writer (and current long-shot candidate for United States president), who started Project Angel Food, to feed people with H.I.V./AIDS, out of their living room. Dern enrolled at U.C.L.A., intending to double major in psychology and journalism, but two days into the semester, she withdrew to do ‘Blue Velvet.’”
Williamson is not mentioned again in the article, making the wisp of her presence all the more intriguing. The Dern-Williamson connection is also briefly cited in a BuzzFeed article from March, whose source is the actress Diane Ladd. And there’s this photograph of them posing together at a “Kindred Spirits Tea” reunion in 2006.
Did Williamson and Dern know each other before they were roommates? Did Dern answer a personal ad for “Spiritual advisor and future president seeks teen roommate wise beyond her years”? Is this why Enlightened is so good? It’s maddening not to have certainty, or at least spiritual clarity, about any of this.