New jobs. Have mercy, they are stressful. Just like on my first day of school every year, I dressed up nicely and plastered on a confident smile held in place by cakes of makeup. But, the truth was… I was scared shitless. I had no fall back plan, no husband to pay the bills if I screwed everything up, and I had no idea what I was doing. To make my stomach churn just a little harder, I had just turned down 10,000 dollars more a year from my previous employer to follow a silly dream, and I sat in orientation thinking, “What the hell have I gotten myself into.”
Across the table sat a beautiful young woman, who I found out was assigned to be the epidemiologist on the same project as I. She was elegant with high cheekbones and great style. Within a few days, I would find out that she was brilliant too. She used words that I didn’t even understand, and asked questions that mattered, while I was still asking “where’s the light switch?” In short, I loathed her. And so the dance began.
Jealousy is so ugly. Deemed ‘the brilliant questions girl’, I whined and complained about her to my mother, my boyfriend, my shrink… I even whined about her to my dog. I was certain she was going to get me fired. I don’t remember the exact moment the tides began to turn, but we learned how to work together. And then, found ourselves talking together. And then, found ourselves laughing together. And then, found ourselves as friends.
We have now been colleagues for about half a year, and likely the best of friends for a lifetime. When most of my friends see me cry, they try to talk about other things or make jokes to try to make me laugh. Jenn has sat down in the mud beside me, wrapped her arm around me, and cried with me. What a beautiful friend. I have learned that beautiful people don’t happen by accident. Beautiful people have heart wrenching stories that have molded them to be both gentle and strong. Jenn and I have started to begin to share our stories together. And I am so looking forward to sharing more of our stories as well as laughs, successes, joys and progress.
This week she is moving across the country. I am going to miss her dearly. As we hugged goodbye, we both had tears in our eyes held back only by bravery and love for the other. I croaked out all I could think to tell her, “Love you.” It felt like the words just didn’t cover my appreciation for this woman, but I knew if I added “And I’ll miss you” my tears would break their dams. How do you begin to thank someone for being your strength as you lose the one person in your life that matters most? How do you begin to show someone the difference that makes? And the undeservingness of it all. I was jealous of her, a feeling that masked the truth- that I was intimidated by her at first. I’ve only known her a few months. Yet, she stepped up for me anyhow because she is a beautiful woman, one I hope to become more like. So, I guess sometimes, love unfolds, even if it is at second glance.