This is a post for my friend Jessie, who, as far as I know, was a loyal reader of this blog since back in the LJ days. Jessie and I met back in 2006, when my friend Tom (remember Tom?) returned from a deployment on his submarine, moved in with me, and promptly ordered me to accompany him out to meet a girl he met the night before he left six months earlier. “She’s bringing her roommate,” he said. “Maybe you’ll like him.” It took some convincing, but I tagged along.
“What did you think of her roommate?” Tom asked me the next day.
“He was pretty nice,” I said. “She’s awesome though. I need more girl friends. She and I have a lot in common. Can we hang out with her again?”
As fate would have it, Tom and Jessie didn’t really hit it off, but her roommate and I ended up dating for almost two years. At first, the three of us — Jessie, Chris and I — got along great. We spent lots of time riding bikes, going to concerts, drinking margaritas, and generally having an all-around fun time. I gradually got to know some of their other friends, and spent a weekend at her parents’ house in the Outer Banks, which still to this day goes down as one of my all-time favorite weekend getaways. But after the first few months, miscommunication set in, as it often does when you’re 25 and your boyfriend’s BFF is a girl.
Despite the sort of love triangle thing we had going on, Jessie and I had our moments. One of my favorites was the time she came to visit me after I’d had my wisdom teeth pulled in 2007. She brought over a few things, including a my first ever Sudoku book, which I still have to this day. I wish she knew how many sleepless nights I’ve spent keeping my mind occupied by that puzzle book and how often I’ve thanked her for it in my head.
After awhile, Chris and I broke up. Jessie and I lost touch. And eventually, I think even Chris and Jessie drifted apart.
But in March of 2009, to my surprise, I got a message from her on Facebook. It said:
so…i’m having livejournal withdrawal!
your mom’s name is cecelia? random- so is mine…but spelled cecilia.
and okay more random. i just clicked on the next picture of hers that says ‘my girls’. linda travers- works at the school i teach at!
It was a little silly how excited I was to hear from her, but the fact is even though we’d had some misunderstandings the year before, I always liked Jessie. She reminded me a little of myself, and isn’t that what we all want to find in this world? A kindred spirit.
We stayed in contact for the next four and a half years, occasionally meeting for dinner or drinks, but always keeping up a string of messages, emails and texts. If one of us dropped the ball for a month or two, the other shot over a message — me inquiring about her parents’ house after a hurricane, her offering advice when she saw J and I adopted a puppy, or me reopening the lines of communication after I’d just seen the movie Step Up on TV.
And the thing is, against all odds, Jessie and I became pretty good friends. We didn’t see each other a lot, but when we did it always felt familiar — like old friends catching up. Over the years, we relived many awkward moments, hashed out a lot of issues, uncovered more than a few common insecurities, talked, laughed and cried about guys, complained about jobs, discussed the pros and cons of having long hair, bonded over how absolutely ridiculously difficult it is to find a flattering one-piece swimsuit, and shared a few secrets in hushed voices over 2-for-1 dinners at Il Giardino, our mutual favorite restaurant where we both loved to spend our birthdays, which were only a few days apart.
At the beginning of the summer, I hadn’t heard from Jessie in a little while, but she reached out to me to see if I wanted to grab dinner. We settled on Cobalt for happy hour, where we caught up on lots we’d missed since we last saw each other in January. She was moving back to the beach, and we said we’d get together more often, which we did — dinner at Il G’s, another happy hour at Cobalt, and finally I convinced her to come to a cookout at J’s and meet some of our friends. We even made plans to see John Mayer in August, and I bought our tickets on my phone.
Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the concert. I texted her about six times over the three weeks leading up to that night, but for reasons I’ll never know, I didn’t hear back from her in response to any of them. Maybe I should have called. I got busy at work in September, but inviting Jessie to the first Il Giardino 2-for-1 Sunday of the season was at the top of October’s to-do list.
And then on Friday, I got a message on Facebook from an old friend of hers.
“I just got a call from Jessie’s sister. Your name was one of the names she mentioned when she asked me to let people in Virginia Beach know. The service is next Saturday at 2 pm.”
I spent a lot of my weekend and the last few days thinking about her. I read through tons of old emails and texts, remembered the rocky start our friendship got off to, and realized how thankful I was that we both gave each other another shot. Knowing her taught me a lot about not making assumptions and always being open to the possibility that things won’t turn out the way you expect. I’d like to think we would have remained close for a long time if we’d had the chance.
I’ll miss you, friend. I am so very sad. I didn’t know your family or many of your friends, but I am so sorry that they’ve lost an amazing daughter, sister, aunt, cousin and friend. And I’m sorry for all those in the future who may have had the chance to know you, but never will. I don’t know what happened, but I hope you left this world peacefully. I hope you knew how much I valued our friendship and how happy I was to get to know you better. I’ll never forget the fun times we had, and I’ll always, always miss our fabulous Italian dinner dates.