Friday, October 19, 2012

Shining a Spotlight on.....Jen

I've been doing these Shining the Spotlight blogs for over 2 years now and purposefully never "spotlighted" my friend Jen. This was mostly out of respect. Jen can be quite unassuming and I always felt like this might be an invasion of her privacy. But, on the other hand, every time I picked someone to write about, I always secretly wanted to do one on her. So, I'm throwing caution to the wind, omitting her last name, and doing it anyway. Hopefully, she won't hate me for it.

Jen and I have known each other since high school. Now, that doesn't mean we were particularly close. We just ran in the same, loosely formed circle, occasionally ending up in the same car driving down some back road in Unionville, doing things we shouldn't be doing. I remember being at her house once in high school, towering over her much younger siblings. I remember laying on the concrete, in front of a Ticketmaster, anxiously awaiting Peter Gabriel tickets (back when you actually had to wait in a line) in the freezing cold. And that's about it for high school. Off we went to college and on into our lives.

So college ends (for Jen, anyway. I like to drag things out.) and we do what any self respecting college graduate with a useless (or soon to be useless) degree does....we start working as waitresses and bartenders. And we made waayyy more money than our friends that actually went and got "real" jobs. And we partied. And we had fun. And we ate alotta cheesesteaks and pizzas. Cuz that's what you do when you work at a pizza and cheesesteak joint.

I was the bartender and Jen was the waitress. I was the bitch and Jen was the sweet girl. People loved Jen and either tolerated, hated or feared me. And then they ended up liking me. But first they had to go through those other stages. So, I think alot of people couldn't understand how Jen and I were friends. I mean, I even used to think to myself  "I'm such a bitch and she's so nice. I don't get it."

But, honestly, I think Jen just got me. I was tough exterior, and a total sap on the inside. I had been through shit and had built my armor well. She was patient with my moods, understanding of my hurt and tolerant of my crap. And a true friendship was born. You know, I'm reading this now and thinking, "Wow...I did all the taking and she did all the giving (except for the drinks. I know I gave her drinks)." And I think that's a pretty accurate assessment, as sad as it is to say. But that's fundamentally who Jen is....a giver.

I believe all relationships are built out of the roles we play in life. And sometimes, somebody lets you be who you need to be. Jen let me, and continues to let me, be who I have needed to be. With no complaint (at least not outloud) and no expectation to change. And that's a pretty admirable way to be. I have spent most of my life trying to get people to change. It has only been in very recent years that I have begun to accept people where they are in their own lives. I think Jen has always done that. At the very least, when it has come to me.

She has stood by me through every major adult high and low of my life. My college graduation, my marriage, my divorce, the birth of Max, the demise of my relationship with Stephen, the loss of my brother and mother. She has laughed with me and let me cry. She has listened to me in completely irrational breakdown moments and not told me I was crazy. She has given me the space she always knew I needed and did not step too far inside that bubble I had built around myself just so I could make it through some of the darkest days of my life. And she has seen me out on the other side of it all. And I think she still likes me.

If I could only be half the friend to Jen as she has been to me, I'd be a pretty damn good friend.