Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Best Friend #WingWritingChallenge Day 3

Best friend ... now this is going to be fun.

I met Jennie when I was thirteen. I remember the day - perhaps not every detail - but pretty close. I think it was winter, or at least it was cold that morning, and we were with a bunch of other students waiting to be let in to our school before classes began.

We went to Shaw Heights Middle School back then. We were at the side door, (there's actually a picture of it later in this post) and I had a big blue folder with me at the time. On it was a picture of Nick Rhodes, one of the members of Duran Duran. Jennie noticed it and asked me if I liked the band. I smiled and told her I did. That was the spark. 

That was thirty-two years ago.

I spent a lot of time with Jennie. I hung out at her house a lot. There was writing - Jennie was the first person whom I shared this passion with. There was ice cream. There was hairspray. (It was the 80's after all.) There was music. Lots and lots of music. We were Jennie and Jenny, and we were pretty much inseparable.

August, 1986 at my aunt and uncle's wedding
Jennie is about six months younger than I am, so I was a grade ahead of her in school. After my freshman year at Shaw Heights, I moved up to Evergreen into a house my parents built up there. Jennie was at my graduation party.

Life took us in different directions after that. We both went to college, we both got married ... I had two kids and Jennie was living in Georgia when we got back in touch. It wasn't until 2008 that we saw each other again. 
June, 2008 at a coffee shop in Denver
 Time had passed, but she was still the sweet Jennie I remembered. 

December, 2008
Right after this photo was taken, my family and I moved across country to North Carolina. Three years after that, we relocated to Germany. Jennie moved in that time period, as well. We didn't see each other for about five years, but we were in constant contact via Facebook and emails.

She now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and in 2011, she and her husband, Doug, welcomed their son, Paxton into the world. I got to see her again when we moved back to Colorado at the end of 2013. I'm lucky because she drives up to Westminster to see her parents - who still live in the same house I hung out in as a kid - and I'm on the direct route. She stops by either on her way there or her way back, so I get to see her once or twice a year. Eventually, we will go to New Mexico to visit her and her family.
March, 2014
In September of 2014, I decided to start participating in the Walk to Stop Alzheimer's in honor of my grandmother, Mimi, whom I lost to the disease about a year and half before. Jennie spent a lot of time with Mimi when we were in middle school. I didn't ask her to take part, but both she and Paxton did. The first year was a little rough. We did the walk in Denver, which is about two hours from my house. Our day started at four am, and by noon, we'd driven nearly four hours and walked in the race. Paxton was only three then. He was a trooper.

Walk to End Alzheimer's in City Park, Denver
 We went to Cheyenne Mountain Zoo the next day.

New Year's Day, 2015
Jennie surprised me by deciding to take part in a second Alzheimer's Walk the next year. This one was a bit different. Remember how we met? Duran Duran. Well, they were scheduled to play at Red Rocks the day after the race. I'd seen them in concert several times - but never with Jen, and never at Red Rocks. That venue is a pretty big deal. We made a whole weekend event out of it.

Walk to End Alzheimer's, America the Beautiful Park, Colorado Springs in September, 2015
And this is where it all began ... Here we are at Shaw Heights Middle School, standing in the place where the two of us met thirty-one years earlier.

My daughter, Maya, (who is also a fan of Duran Duran) went with us to the concert. As you can see, none of us were happy at all about being there.
Red Rocks Ampitheater, September 2015
Nine days after the concert, my wrist was put in a cast. For the next five months, I would undergo two surgeries and more than half a dozen more casts. Jennie came to see me again a couple of weeks after that second surgery.

December, 2015
And I got to see her again just this past weekend. This was the third year in a row they've walked with us. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the tradition continues.

Walk to End Alzheimer's, America the Beautiful Park, September 2016
Jennie and I only live about five hours apart now. We plan phone calls over lunch breaks, talk over Facebook, and she's been a trusted beta reader for me for my last two novels. She's my bestie and I love her. I'm thinking we're good for at least another thirty years - longer if we're lucky.