I have this friend named Jenny. I met her just over three years ago when I moved to North Carolina for grad school.
Upon entering any academic setting, you know there will be events arranged in order to specifically introduce you to your classmates. In the whirl of “Hey, I’m ___”‘s and “Where are you coming from?”‘s and “What genre are you here for?”‘s, I heard, “Any of ya’ll have a football? Let’s play catch.”
And there she stood. Wild-eyed, wild-haired, standing in sandals with her car keys out ready to go grab the football out of the back of her Forester, “Anyone want some wine?” Jenny from Alabama. We all just kind of looked at her and giggled.
We didn’t play football that day, and I left early because I had to go home and wallow about my homesickness, but we did start hanging out.
Lots of sunflower seeds were spat as we watched the Little League games at Hugh MacRae Park, and lots of wine was drank as we rented Twilight and laughed our asses off. On my 24th birthday in April, Jenny picked me up and drove me to the beach so that I could start my 24th year with my feet in the ocean. Then she picked up a shell and made me make a wish and chuck it into the ocean.
Jenny finished grad school in 2 years instead of three. That summer, she was moving to Steamboat, Colorado to…do whatever it was that she did there. I never really got to find out. When Jenny decided to finish grad school a year early, we began scheming for me to move to Colorado with her that summer, and to adventure like I’d never adventured before.
And then something wonderful happened. I smiled at a boy across the street in October, and in February, we started hanging out. In March, we were officially together. And in May, Jenny went to Steamboat alone.
I have no regrets. If I hadn’t given up Steamboat to nurture my brand new relationship with Mike, it would have fallen apart. Jenny and I are still friends, and I fully intend on making her wear a hideous bridesmaid dress someday. And Mike and I are fine, so everything’s worked out.
But wouldn’t you know that right now, I have this unexplainable desire to go to Steamboat?
I suppose in a way, this s an Ode to Jenny. I flipping love her. She is neither my archenemy nor my nemesis (ha ha) but she is one of my favorite people of all time. And I think this ode has been spurred by my desire to go to Steamboat. I need a little adventure in my life.
So I extend a formal invitation to you, Jenny. Come to Ohio. Ride roller coasters with me. Let’s get drunk on the island of bars. And if we’re lucky, we’ll find a dock on which to drink ’40s.