Jaimee is one of my most delicious friends. We worked together at Juno (now United Online / NetZero) for a while. We sat in adjacent cubicles for some time, broken cubicles, with missing slats, so there was a makeshift window between us. And although we sat beside each other, we’d still IM as others approached us. “Shut up, pig face,” I’d type as Merrit spoke to her. The custodial staff wanted to fix our cubes, but we decided we liked our window. We’d laugh, and I am just not a big laugher. Some people laugh all the time, at everything. I’m not one of those, but around Jaimee, I can become giddy and silly and laughy (it should be a word).
She has deep beautiful dimples and is one of those forever friends, even though she lives on Long Island with her husband and two children, and I’m here in Texas, so far from her. One night, while we were busy getting drunk at a company function, a popular song came over the piped-in restaurant music, and in my drunken state, to the same tune, I began to sing the very different lyrics of a camp song from the summer after forth grade. Jaimee, to my surprise, began signing these same lyrics with me. We were in shock, realizing we’d attended the same camp when we were so much younger. She remembered me as “the experienced girl.”
A few years later, I was newly single, no longer working at Juno, and Jaimee had the life I wanted. The husband. The baby. The house. I was busy dating and drinking. She was busy feeding her family. We didn’t grow apart. There was just less time. She recounted her days at the park, meeting other mothers, and she mentioned to me that she ran into an old friend of mine, Lauren. I didn’t know how it came to be said that we were once friends, but I was naturally inquisitive. I wanted to know everything about Lauren’s new life. She married the man I introduced her to. I always thought I’d have been at the wedding, even though we stopped speaking for way too much time to ever be there. I introduced her to the father of her children.
Lauren was a drift friend, the kind for no real reason, just left. Plans became more sparse. Both of us just stopped putting in as much effort. My husband at the time didn’t like her to-be husband as much as his friend James, who also had dated Lauren. So when plans were being devised, Gabe always ducked out of couples night. And we somehow ducked out of our friendship.
I ran into her on the street and there were no promises of pretend phone calls that would never be made. But it was a long time ago, and I still think of her. When Jaimee told me about Lauren, I told Jaimee that Lauren reminded me of her. Jaimee didn’t understand. “We’re nothing alike,” she insisted. “Well maybe it’s your laugh,” I said, struggling in my own mind with what common connection they had to me. And I realize it now. It’s the absolute beauty I saw in each of them. I fell in love with their ways, the way they told me stories, or sighed. They’re both simple girls who were, and continue to be, extraordinary to me.