Jill is the slice of home baked pie you long for. Her dad was a farmer. His dad was a farmer. On a hot summer day Jill would call me up to go floating down the canal or ride the slick rocks with the stream into a barely thawed pool of water. She's also the girl I called one day when I was bored and offered to drive two hours and try out this new thing called "Bungee Jumping." We did although I can't remember why.
The first year after my college graduation I found myself particularly low on pride. First of all, I was a college graduate working as a sales clerk. Too late I discovered that a bachelors degree in sociology is equal to a high school diploma and, in some cases, a G.E.D. and got you hired at JC Penney trying to upsale with a colorful scarf. On top of it, I'd been dumped. It wasn't that he was the love of my life. In fact, it was quite the opposite. He started planning the wedding aloud and I freaked out, pointing out that we'd only been dating four months; three of which were long distance.
Truth is, I didn't love him. In fact, I didn't even really like him much but he'd pushed his way into my social life and shoved everybody else out and I let him. My family didn't like him. My friends didn't like him. I was flaky and vulnerable but at that wedding planning moment I finally protested loud and clear that I was not ready to marry him. I didn't say it but I'm sure he heard it. Ever.
He took the coward's way out. He didn't call me. Two weeks later he was engaged. I tracked him down and made him tell me to my face and then I regrettably cried like I cared. But I didn't really care about him. I cared about how he made me feel. Expendable, inconsequential, a check mark on a "to do" list. My pride was completely gone. I was a college educated sales associate without a boyfriend. Loser.
That Christmas Jill brought me 4 pigeons in a cage and told me she knew how to break into locked cars. The thought of those pigeons in his car all night tickled my dormant funny bone and brought me out of my funk.
The next year I gave her a box of the perforated side paper torn from the old computer paper. And a peanut butter sandwich. With the crust cut off.
She gave me matching toothbrushes for my whole family. All the same color.
I gave her 37 store gift cards with no more than 25 cents on each one.
She gave me a bouquet of wildflowers (dead, prickly weeds) from her yard.
I gave her a half eaten sucker with bits of fuzz stuck to it.
She gave me a snowman made out of an old sock and stuffed with dryer lint that she'd collected for nearly a year.
I gave her slippers I made from sanitary napkins.
She gave me a huge box of socks. None of them matched.
Knowing how hard the economy has hit this year, I decided to give a truly practical gift;
This one is particularly intriguing. I couldn't bear to tear off the label. The ingredients indicate it should not rattle like potato chips when I shake it.