My Traveling Companion

26 04 2011

Friendships often start in weird ways.  And Jamie’s and mine, well, we had inauspicious beginnings.  We worked together for a couple years.  Technically I was her boss’ boss.  Whenever we had the opportunity to collaborate directly, I was impressed by her intelligence, but there were more opportunities for misunderstandings then team-building.

Eventually, she more-or-less tried to get me fired.  She is the first to say that the karma from that action has come back to bite her, HARD.  But I had no role in the karma.  In fact, about six weeks after she tried to get me canned, I promoted her.  Working closely together we quickly developed professional respect which morphed into real friendship.  She is the closest thing my kids have to a God Parent (although I am pretty sure she is agnostic – as am I.)

Early on in our adoption process, we knew that there was almost no chance SAG would travel to Ethiopia.  I had a number of friends who offered to go.  But it all depended on the timing of the trip (my friends tend to be gainfully employed and therefore need to go to work.)  Some of those people would have made good travel buddies.  Each had both strengths and weaknesses.

Then one night we were sitting around our house, PJ was asleep and Jamie was beating all of us at some game, when I looked at her husband and said, “Trent, you should come to Ethiopia with me.”

Trent is an amazing photographer.  Trent is a practicing Buddhist who likes to sit quietly (except when discussing big business or Microsoft products – oh, and don’t get him started on the font C0mic Sans MS.)  Still, he has an adventurer’s heart, is mellow, and did I mention his photography?  I wanted a low-maintenance companion who could visually document my journey.  Trent did have one big con against him, he basically does not like children.  But I was willing to overlook that problem.

Jamie immediately said, “What about me?”  To which I replied, “You can’t take pictures and you would starve to death.”  The photography thing, well, Jamie is the one who claims she can’t take good pictures.  And she doesn’t need to, because, you know, she has Trent.  (However, it turns out she actually CAN take good pictures.)  The starving thing…

Jamie is a picky eater.  For example, she doesn’t eat things like, say, vegetables (except lettuce).  She loves candy, but doesn’t eat chocolate (freak).  As for drinking, well, she actually likes wine coolers (and she isn’t 17, and this is not 1983).  I have traveled with her in the past and know she is content with a box of Sk1ttles for breakfast.  But I didn’t think that would work for 12-days.

I went to bed that night hoping she was serious.

Not long after this conversation she sent me an email:

Ms. Semi-Feral Mama:

I hear you are seeking a travel companion and would like to be considered for this critical role. Attached you will find my qualifications. (Please pardon the quality of this document; my regular resume writer was unavailable.)  (Usually I do Jamie’s resume).

I look forward to discussing this position with you in more detail.

Sincerely,

Jamie, World Traveler and Expert Diaper Changer

The attached pro/con chart included funny, and yet truthful bullets such as she would be a light packer but would remember important random stuff like tape, safety pins and gum.

Jamie loves kids, as it turns out this was an important qualification.  Jamie is low-maintenance.  Jamie is probably the smartest person I hang around with on a regular basis.  She is not JUST book smart (I actually know lots of PhD types) she is practical, organized and has a disgustingly good memory.  There are only two problems with Jamie as a traveling companion;  she doesn’t swear and she absolutely refuses to talk smack about anybody, ever.  (Despite these issues she is never annoying.)

I had NO idea how valuable Jamie would be.  None.  Of course I had no idea my passport had expired.  As I sat on the floor of O’hare Airport (instead of on a Turkish Airlines plane), I dialed the phone number of the local passport agency (it was about 11 pm).  I started sobbing and couldn’t track all the menu options.  I handed the phone to her, melted into the floor and proceeded to stop functioning.

She fixed everything.

She actually enjoyed spending an extra day in Chicago where she had never been before.

PJ loved having a day with her Jamie.

Eventually we did actually leave Chicago.  Throughout the trip Jamie kept all my papers (I am the type who loses the movie ticket between the box office and the popcorn counter.)  She took GREAT photos.  She helped with Little Dude as well as other kids.

And most importantly, I never worried about her.  I was dependent on her for organization and baby help, but I was not co-dependent on her moods (always frickin’ chipper) or her physical needs (what do you know? as an adult she took care of herself.)

Jamie came to the hospital less than two hours after PJ was born.  Jamie was with me in Ethiopia when I first held Little Dude.  Jamie is my friend and I will supply her with Sk1ttles and wine coolers for the rest of her life (or until her palate matures).

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12 responses

26 04 2011
leigh

Hey SF, this is pretty funny, how you call your friend a freak because she doesn’t like chocolate–which btw, I don’t either— but YOU are the one who didn’t realize your passport expired until you were at the AIRPORT, so haha, that was kind of funny….but, I do have to agree, that wine coolers, um, yuck, you are so right are totally age 17 or 1983, which ever came first.

Regardless, Jamie sounds like a stellar travel companion except for the not talking smack part. That would make me self conscious. Just a little. I mean, I never do that either. I’m just saying. You know, if someone else were to do that, you know, it might,uh, get a little awkward. Or something.

26 04 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

Leigh, it is one thing not to like chocolate if you eat other things – like vegetables, for instance. But if you have one meal a day that is only candy, you really need to include chocolate, or you are basically eating non- alcoholic solidified (or semi-solidified) wine coolers.

26 04 2011
shonda

Ahhhh Jamie – it was so great to have you on this trip. Sfm forgot your best quality – you laughed really loud at my jokes. That alone won me over 😉

26 04 2011
tamara b

i think we all liked having J around!

love,
your friend who doesn’t think chocolate is a big deal

27 04 2011
mindy

Awwww- sweet friend. And very sweet post.

27 04 2011
Christine

She sounds perfect. She doesn’t talk smack? Does she love a healthy grumbling session? I need to grumble, it’s imperative. You just made me realize that my travelling companion (my husband isn’t going on the second trip) doesn’t talk smack and she is a tremendous secret keeper, to boot. Also, my companion doesn’t swear much unless she is pissed. I’m pretty sure I’ll piss her off, though. Jamie, you sound like a peach.

27 04 2011
rebekah

Ahh… I have one of these – Raquel. Perfect traveling companion and best friend. You and I are lucky. This sort of travel assignment is a tough cookie and to have friends that can step up, well, amazing.

27 04 2011
leigh

Oh, I missed the part about her only eating candy. Seriously? Jamie, seriously? No wonder she never swears and doesn’t talk smack….she’s high as a kite.

Just wait till she comes off that sugar high. It’s not going to be pretty. 😉

27 04 2011
Sarah

I love this post. I actually got little goosebumps reading it. You know how often I have thought about our trip and thought, “I really liked that girl that came with the crazy lady from Oregon.” Okay. I didn’t really think you were crazy. But, I am so glad you took her resume so seriously. I was genuinely blessed by both of you. Really. In a totally…um…non-theistic way.

27 04 2011
Sarah

*insert question marks in all appropriate places, please. I’ve fallen off the Writing Coherently wagon.

(“You know how often I have thought about our trip…”)

27 04 2011
Erin

Well, the one shared experience Jamie and I have is horrific… probably ranks among the worst you can have. So… we could be AWESOME friends!

Nice post, a kind tribute to an amazing friend.

27 04 2012
stickymangofeet

I’m a bit. Jealous. There. I said it.

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