I met Jessica when I was 22 years old and living in Japan. We both moved there after college graduation to teach English in a private language school. Fate put the two Jessicas (both from Southern California) in cities 20 minutes away from each other. We were real partners in crime that year, taking the train to Osaka, staying up all night dancing, and returning home while business men rode the same train to work. When we made it back stateside, Jessica would visit me in San Francisco. I remember a terrible double date where one of the guys sang Jon Bon Jovi’s “Blaze of Glory”, as the date was going so badly. Both Jessicas laughed it off. We always enjoyed meeting people as a pair. “So, you are both named Jessica?”…”Yes, both”. In fact, we never actually call her by her first name in our circle of friends/family, but since she is a teacher and her students troll the internet for snippets, I will keep her on a first name only basis.
As the years have passed, Jessica was there to meet (and approve of) Josh, read a poem at my wedding, hold both of my kids when they were newly born, and share every important milestone in between. She came to stay with us in France for a week this summer, and just came to share the Thanksgiving holiday with us in Torino.
It is a strange and wonderful thing to know that someone else on this earth has seen and experienced so many of the same things at the same time with me. As this year is a step back from the intensity of relationships at home, it is sweet to be able to reflect on the evolution of a sustained friendship.
Jessica is graceful, kind, a loving aunt-type-person, artistic, thoughtful, adventurous and laughs like nuts. She is also responsible, a planner, a teacher (by vocation), curious and sometimes stubborn.
Since the holiday season has arrived, I have begun to take stock in my blessings of real friendship. I am glad that I have been able to call Jessica one of my closest friends for so many years. So, when we sat down to a Thanksgiving dinner together in Italy, it made me smile when our dinner guest said, “Oh, so you are both named Jessica.” Yes, both of us.