I am fortunate to have the friendship of one of the sweetest, funniest people on this planet, and I do not sing her praises enough. So this is about Jessica, my friend.
I met Jessica in grade seven at a Catholic Elementary school in Bowmanville. At the time, I was surly and salty about the fact that my parents wouldn’t allow me to transfer to a different school. My social group was getting increasingly toxic, the school was a new build and had no funding, and the hypocrisy of Catholicism was, at the time, weighing heavily on my existential consciousness. In hindsight, my not-transferring was an actual Godsend, for more reasons than one.
Jessica sat behind me. She was bubbly and blonde, with an Ariana Grande ponytail twenty years before it was in vogue, and she kicked my chair a lot. I barked at her one day, and somehow or another she rectified this by telling me a dirty calculator joke. We’ve been inseparable ever since.
I’ve known Jess longer than I’ve known my youngest brother, which is sometimes a contentious issue, as they both share today (October 6th) as their birthday. Jess is a Libra, which means she is simultaneously every one thing with the tension of every other thing in the balance: she’s imaginative but also grounded; she is exceedingly easy-going but also has non-negotiables. I could out-race Jess on foot, but she could out-dance me easily. Jess is the proud Mother of three wonderful kids, but you’ll only really hear about them if you ask her, as she typically has other things she likes to chat about.
I obviously can’t mention everything I want, but I can offer vignettes.
As I changed cities and schools mid-way through grade eight, we both spent the first year of high school apart. It was terrifying, but we chatted with one another on the phone after school for the entirety of grade nine, eating our post-school snackies, and I was reminded of the importance of this during the pandemic lockdown when we were all inside, on pause.
Laughing on rollercoasters at Canada’s Wonderland. Laughing, and bouncing, and hurting from sunburns afterwords.
Sharing homeroom together when Jess’ family moved to Oshawa in grade ten; it was one of the only classes we had together throughout high school, homeroom and parenting class. We did a project together about the dangers of drug use while pregnant that included a questionably appropriate skit with the parenting dummy-doll Jess was assigned that weekend, crying on the floor while Sarah McLaughlin’s “Angel” played in the backgound. There was a substitute teacher the day of our presentation… I have no idea how she was able to mark us.
Watching my friend take her marriage vows, and not being able to stop smiling and happy crying the entire night through.
Skating in a recreation centre with our shoes, because we had shoes.
Road tripping to Montreal for Osheaga together three times, and having engine trouble that first time, napping at the dealership after working a closing bar shift the night prior.
Our sons were born in the same year, which means we had the experience of being pregnant together at the same time. I have a photo of a newly-birthed lap baby touching my burgeoning belly that I know we’ll play on some sort of platform when the boys turn sixteen. When I was learning to breastfeed, Jess drove in the evening to our apartment from Courtice to North York, hugged me, gave me a few pointers, and did my dishes. In the pandemic lockdown times, FaceTime was the only way our boys could get together, and so Jess and my calls were and continue to be often interrupted by the giddy excitement of post-toddler boys, each retreating to their room to show each other their toys and ask of one another, “so, how was your sleep?”
Jessica peer-pressures me, and I appreciate it. She peer-pressures me, but it’s usually to do with writing more and getting outside of my well-build introvert shell. “Will you just write a book, already,” and “Don’t be lame” are recurring topics. Jessica also has an energy unparalleled to anyone else’s. When she says she’ll do something, she’ll do it with interest, from impromptu mid-afternoon pickling to steadily becoming an incredibly successful real estate executive. She cares, and she cares if she’s known you for five seconds or for twenty years.
I’m incredibly proud of the woman my friend has become and today, I’m wishing her the happiest of birthdays. She’s an amazingly warm, intuitive, hilarious human, and I’m better for having her in my life. Happy Birthday, Mah Friend. xo.