Friday, July 17, 2015

2005 - 2015: My Next Best Friend

Little did I know how pivotal Monday, July 18, 2005 would be for me.  But during my second trip out to Chicago from DC, prior to moving in September, I met Jessica for the first time.  And life has been changed for the better ever since.

It was technically, no actually, my and Kevin's 2nd date.  I had come out to Chicago to interview for some jobs and with the afternoon free, Kevin chose to take me to see The Field Museum, Buckingham Fountain, and Millennium Park.  First stop was The Field.  And Jessica, who was working there at the time, volunteered to be our tour guide.  We've joked that Jessica has been the third person in our relationship.  But that's not really a joke.  She's been there from the start, even before Kevin and I knew what we were going to become.

July 18, 2005
The first picture Jessica and I have of us (left) was taken just a few minutes after the first picture of Kevin and me.  How appropriate.

Those who attended our wedding heard Jessica give a heartfelt speech during the reception about the first time she and I met and her nervousness about whether I thought her posing for a picture where she's pointing to a hieroglyph of a monkey penis would be funny. But I freely admit that I loved her immediately - long before she pointed to that monkey peen. She's just that person.  Jessica doesn't know a stranger, and although we tease her about it ad nauseam, I quietly marvel at her ability to strike up/insert herself into conversations with complete strangers.

Since that first meeting, Jessica has proven to be the most loyal, the most trusted, the most devoted friend a person could have.  She'll be the person by your side to cheer your boyfriend through 4 Chicago Marathons, 1 Minneapolis Marathon, and 1 Chicago Half-Iron Man.  She's your partner when you want to eat Long John Silver's, but everyone else wants a salad.  She'll go see a movie with you that she's already seen because the experience for her will only be made better if she's with you.  She'll dress up in the most ridiculous costumes for Hallowe'en (or anytime, really) because she gets the gag.  She'll show up early to help you prepare, and she'll be the last one to leave to make sure everything is cleaned up.  And she'll be the one to prevent you from walking down the aisle to be married with a beer in your hand because she knows that while you might think it's funny now, you'll look back on it years from now and wish you hadn't done it.

October 12, 2013 - when life got better.
When we moved to Miami in 2013, Jessica was the one we wanted to tell last; indeed, she was the last person in Chicago we saw before our plane took off the next morning.  But when we had made the decision to move back to Chicago, she was the first person we wanted to tell.  We told her on the People Mover Ride in Disney World's Tomorrowland.

Jessica's reaction was exactly as hoped (right).

And that's another great thing about Jessica:  you can always count on her for the reaction you're hoping for.  If you want someone to be excited for you, no one cheers louder than Jessica.  If you're looking for compassion and understanding, she will sit and cry along with you.  If you want someone to confirm that your boss/the cab driver/the check-out person at Jewel is an asshole, she's the first to show up with toilet paper ready to trash a house.  She's up for anything, whether it's a quick lunch, a shopping trip, a weekend getaway, or a "suburban adventure" to Red Lobster and glow-in-the-dark miniature golf.  She's always game.  And I can't imagine attending a wedding without her.

Books are written about friends like her.  Movies have been made about her kind of friendship.  She is the kind of friend we all hope to have, and all strive to be.  But even on our best days at this, we could never come close.  July 18, 2005 introduced me to the meaning of real friendship.  How on earth could I ever forget that day?