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.
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).