I don’t love my friends for the number of times they’ve carried my drunk butt home from the bar, their ability to make me laugh without sound or whether or not they’ve ever volunteered to watch my cat.
(Although I must say, I love Jamie for all these reasons and more!)
But after a shitty week month year, today I came home to find a large blue box on my doorstep. It wasn’t incredibly heavy, but it was obvious that this wasn’t a box of packing peanuts either. After some careful surgical Xacto blading around the seams, I peeled back the layers of interlocking cardboard and took out the bubble wrap. Within I discovered a single large, blue duffel bag. I immediately wondered if this was some sort of hint that life was not going to get in the way of us traveling together again… soon!
I extracted the bag from its bubble wrap bed and spied a single tag attached to it, which read, “Jen’s Post-Op Kit — Enjoy!”
I immediately began to cry. The night before when I was miserable and needed a friend, I knew it was too late to call Jamie, so I sat down and wrote her a letter — communicating my hurt by creating that one-sided conversation connection through putting my pen to paper. And now here, on my doorstep was a visible reminder that sometimes great friends can be present without being physically present.
Some background: I met Jamie in art class at Elon College. She was from Alabama, and I was from Southern Maryland. We immediately hit it off, staying friends after graduation. We’ve traveled to Ireland, Scotland, England and Italy together, as well as Chicago and Washington DC, and she’s since moved to Kentucky. We’ve visited each other’s hometowns and new houses, celebrated birthdays together and apart, and keep in touch with as-often-as-we-can phone conversations.
In about eight years of friendship-after-college, one might expect that physical distance could have caused an emotional distance as well, a weakening of said friendship and an increased difficulty relating to each other’s separate experiences. But in fact, I believe the opposite is true. Jamie and I developed a true friendship that picks up right where it left off, no matter where we are in our lives or how long it has been since we last saw one another.
One of the things I love about her is that when I see or hear something really funny, Jamie’s laughter rings in my ears validating the hilarity. I also love that she GETS me (no matter who I am at the time). We honor each other’s birthdays, but often with small gifts that have reminded us of each other rather than over-the-top displays of monetary affection. She had called earlier in the week, when I was home sick with a migraine, so I knew to expect a package. I was prepared for mix CDs — a Jamie staple and something I request with regularity from my music-lovin’ friend.
The blue bag was obviously filled with more than music…
Opening the duffel immediately brought on another stream of tears. At first glance, I couldn’t identify everything in the bag — but in between, around and on top of everything it was completely packed, seam-to-seam, with Oats & Chocolate Fiber One bars (my favorite since recently discussing “diet” food on the phone with Jamie and basically cheating by “taking” her trainer-made diet tips for my own)!
Miss Kitty was crying out for her dinner as I unpacked the bag onto my kitchen floor. EVERY ITEM* was either tagged or marked with a Post-It note, and I have to say that I couldn’t have packed a more FANTASTIC post-operation kit for myself if I had tried! This care package was a physical testament to Jamie’s huge heart and loving personality — two of the countless reasons that I find myself super-duper lucky to call her my best friend.
I took a few deep breaths to calm my emotions, and dialed Kentucky. Some thank yous need to be immediate and as close to in-person as possible! But in case I wasn’t clear enough earlier:
My cup runneth over!
In the week following my surgery — as I use the contents of this kit — I will be thinking of you and singing your praises as I consistently avert boredom and solitude! I love you, my dear friend… Thank you so much!
*Inventory and explanations of the large blue duffel bag:
– A card
– Ghirardelli dark chocolate + mint chocolates, “Because you always need chocolate.”
– Harry & David bing cherry dark chocolates, “Because sometimes you need even more chocolate.”
– Black wire bird votive holder, “Because he made me smile and I hope he does the same for you.”
– Fleece throw, “To curl up with.”
– An insulated soup bowl with screw-on lid, “To keep your soup warm or your ice cream cold!”
– A fancy water bottle, “To keep you hydrated.”
– A 1000-piece puzzle, “For fun and to kill time.”
– A Stow&Go! Puzzle mat, “In case you want to take the puzzle back to your house.”
– A Su Doku book, “To keep your brain sharp.”
– People Celebrity Puzzler crossword book, “For when Su doku gets too hard and you need a celeb fix.”
– An eco-friendly magnetic notepad, “To write down all the great ideas that will come to you.”
– March 2009 issue of National Geographic, “To inspire you in photography and travel.”
– Paperback: Nights in Rodanthe, “Because you saw the movie and I thought you might want to read the book.”
– Brothers & Sisters Seasons 1 & 2 (on loan)
– A padded manilla envelope with two CDs inside — Jen’s Post Op Mix Disc One and Disc Two!!! (It wouldn’t be a Jamie-package without MUSIC!)
And, inside of the large duffel was a smaller bag that held a deck of playing cards (“To sharpen your poker skills.”); a 3-pack of Chap-Stick (“To keep your lips from getting dry.”); a pack of ouchless hair ties and clips (“To keep your hair out of your way.”); and a $25 iTunes gift card (“To find some great new music or some more music from old favorites.”).