Friend: A Single Soul In Two Bodies

It was October of 1999. I’d managed to introduce East Hall and most of its occupants to my less-than-graceful self by falling out of a window and breaking my face. It was Halloween night, and I was slowly making my way back to my room after a 7 hour visit to the local emergency room. I was drugged up, bruised from one side to the other, and feeling extremely sorry for myself when I heard a somewhat familiar voice.

“Oh, honey, what in the WORLD happened to you?”

Through my pain-killer-haze I recognized a girl who lived a few doors down. She was in my English class, and had always been sweet to me. She reminded me of a gypsy fairy–long dark hair, willowy frame, graceful and kind. At that moment, I couldn’t recall her name.

I explained to her what had happened, and she clucked at me like a mother hen and walked me to my dorm room.

You get some rest. And you just let me know if you need anything at all. I’ll be happy to share my notes with you from Wentworth’s class, if you need them.”

It wasn’t until she left that I remembered her name. Jenna. And we’ve been fast friends ever since.

In case you don’t recognize me, I’m the skinny girl on the left with all the hair.

Jenna and I bonded over poetry, our obsession for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and our shared (and unabashed) love for The Monkees. Her room was a refuge for me. I’d escape from the stresses of college life and head for Jenna’s door. We would light candles, listen to music (usually something ethereal I’d never heard before) and talk for hours. Or, we’d snuggle under a blanket, bust out our favorite vending machine snacks, and watch Buffy on VHS.

During our sophomore year, an opportunity to join Orson Scott Card in New York City for a spring break writer’s conference was something neither of us could turn down. We planned our trip giddily for weeks, comparing notes over places we wanted to see, trying to cram in as much sight-seeing as we could despite the fact that we’d be in class every day we were there. We packed the most sophisticated clothes we had in our possession. Jenna packed her maps, I packed my writing tablet and pens, and we headed for the Big Apple.

And I wound up borrowing her clothes most of the time we were there, because my “Happy As A Clam” t-shirt just wasn’t “Manhattan” enough for me.

Nothing bonds 2 college-aged young women together like nighttime strolls down East 24th Street, 6-hour writing jags in a Manhattan Starbucks, standing at the feet of the Twin Towers, or belting out our favorite show tunes in the twinkling lights of Broadway. As our trip came to an end, our grand plans to find an apartment somewhere in Boone and spend the summer drinking strawberry margaritas, writing short stories, and having true Buffy marathons (as in, from dawn to dusk) were solidified.

Jenna and I moved into our first college apartment in April of 2001. It was a tiny basement apartment, where we weren’t allowed to have pets (but did), hang wind chimes (but did), or have loud parties (which we didn’t.) It was everything we’d dreamed of and more. Eventually, Brian came into my life, and moved into our apartment with us.

The three of us looking in on illegal pet #4, Dizzy. Jenna had 3 pet rats, and we eventually added a rabbit to the mix.

It was like Three’s Company, without Mr. Roper. We worked in shifts, but when we all managed to get together on the same day, we’d make up the hideaway bed, pass the Ben and Jerry’s around, and we’d (you guessed it) watch Buffy or Angel or Farscape (which Brian introduced us to.) I had everything I ever wanted–a love in my life that was healthy and big, a best friend who could look at me and tell me what I was thinking before I could form the thought, a little apartment and a place to call my own.

We were nothing if not theatrical.

When our lease came to an end, Brian and I got our own place. I was sad to wake up every morning and know I couldn’t share a poptart and cup of coffee with Jenna, but thrilled to be making my way in this relationship with Brian. A little over 2 years after Jenna walked me back to my dorm room in East Hall, Brian proposed. And like most young couples, we fell into each other, and the rest of the world melted away. I lost touch with Jenna, and though I thought of her and missed her often, we never reconnected.

Fast forward to 2006. Brian and I were living in Charleston, and I discovered Myspace for the first time. (You remember…back when Myspace was cool?) When I found Jenna, my first reaction was, “Will she want to hear from me? Should I send her a message?” Memories of Manhattan, all-night dorm room conversations, and losing my best friend flooded my brain. I sent her a message, and she sent me her phone number. I remember feeling nervous, excited, as I took my cell phone and a glass of wine out to my car. (I wanted complete and utter silence so I could hear her every word. You may not get it, but Jenna will understand.)

The first few moments of conversation were a little awkward, a lot nerve-wracking. But 10 minutes in, and it was like no time had passed at all.

Jenna has since married her high school sweetheart, and they have a gorgeous baby boy, “Bubber.” We’ve grown up (a little), and we don’t share the same address anymore. But there are some bonds that are unbreakable.

This past weekend, Jenna and her little family came to Charleston for a visit. We played with Bubber, chatted about mommyhood and work life and grown-up stuff. We discreetly left the men to bond over video games and retreated to the kitchen to share a glass of wine. We visited the zoo and the beach and our favorite local Mexican restaurant (because we don’t get together without margaritas being somewhere in the equation.)

Abby, Jenna and Bubber.

Out of all the fun and excitement of the weekend, my favorite moment was a quiet one, shared under the umbrella at the beach. The menfolk were gone, Bubber was sleeping, and Jenna and I sat in our chairs, breathing in the salt air, talking quietly. In that moment, we were AbbyandJenna, East Hall residents, poets, girls searching for our places in the world. Our busy, adult lives, with children and work and husbands and life, cannot shake the foundation our friendship was built upon.

After all, a friendship built upon Buffy is one that will last a lifetime.

5 thoughts on “Friend: A Single Soul In Two Bodies

  1. Dana Fritz

    I can’t believe no one has commented on this blog. I miss my girlfriends so much and I feel this way. Selina and I shared two homes together but we bonded our families, you and I shared our “adult lives” together and yet shared no physical residence. Friendships come and go like the tide but they leave their mark on the land. Everyone leaves an impression on people they meet. It’s what you do with that impression. What did that impression do for you? I guess that is a question we are all left with “at the end of the day”.

    1. Abby

      They did—once upon a time I had a different comment delivery system, so that I could reply to individual comments. Blogger didn’t offer that feature until recently. I have all the comments from that time period saved so if there’s ever a way to import them here, I will.

      Most of my friendships don’t just leave an impression, honestly. I take them very seriously, and spend my time cultivating them. It’s more like gardening to me than painting. You get out what you put in. Or at least that’s how I approach it.

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