An Unlikely Friend

I first met Jamie in the summer of 1995… sort of. She was one of Kara’s helpers in my sixth-grade Bible School class. Jamie was still in high school, so a lot of the guys that were my age had a crush on her. I became a new member of Jamie’s Fan Club the instant I laid eyes on her.

After that week of Bible School, I didn’t see Jamie, again, until the summer of 1998. She was a chaperone on the Youth Group’s Summer Trip to Panama City Beach, Florida. At the time, Jamie was dating Andy, who didn’t go on that trip. But Andy seemed like a pretty cool guy, and his family was very popular at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

After eating at the Hard Rock Café in Atlanta, Georgia, the Youth Group had divided into smaller groups to cross the busy city street to return to the bus. My buddy, Jon, and I were playfully pushing and shoving each other while we were waiting for the “DON’T WALK” sign to change to “WALK.”

That’s when Jamie, one of the two chaperones with our group, snapped, “Will you all stop!”

I think Jamie could’ve responded with a little less grouchiness, but it was understandable. After all, Jon and I were a couple of high school sophomores-to-be acting like a couple of high school sophomores-to-be very near a busy street in a busy city.

Then near the end of our trip, we went to eat at a popular seafood restaurant in Panama City Beach, Florida. A few of us guys were preparing to take a seat at a table that the chaperones had apparently decided they were going to sit.

“This is our table! You all go sit somewhere else!” Jamie yelled.

The only crush, now, was my crushed feelings, thanks to this crabby young-lady.

Throughout most of high school, Jamie was an assistant for Kara in Wednesday night Youth Choir practices. There were even some nights that Kara couldn’t make it, so Jamie would be at the helm.

Jamie would yell every ten minutes, “If you all don’t be quiet, I’m gonna beat each and every one of you senseless!”

Well, I can’t say that if the above quote were true that I could blame Jamie, because I’m sure that I would’ve at least thought about using it, myself, had I been trying to direct a room full of rowdy kids to do anything. But Jamie did mean business, no doubt.

But I didn’t think Jamie was all that bad. There were a few times that I caught her in a pleasant mood. One of those times was when Andy & Jamie were so kind as to hold a cast party in their new house after the Youth Choir had completed the first of two nights that we performed the Christmas musical in December of 1999. Andy & Jamie were then married, and they had bought their house not far from where I lived. Andy & Jamie were a cool young-couple that often enjoyed hanging out with us youth.

I have few memories of Jamie throughout my years in high school. I knew Jamie mostly as Andy’s girlfriend and then wife that could often be just as irritable as her face was pretty.

Why can’t we be friends?

One day in February of 2003, I sent a joke to everyone on my E-mail address book, as I often did. I happened to have Jamie’s E-mail address since she we were in the same Sunday school class and had passed around our E-mail addresses a couple months earlier.

Shortly after I sent out my E-mail, Jamie replied to it, which wasn’t a surprise since she would do that every now and then. But the surprise came when I sent her another E-mail and then she replied to it, again. It was as if Jamie had actually wanted to have a conversation with me. This was definitely a Jamie that I didn’t know in high school.

Jamie and I E-mailed each other several times that day. We’ve continued to E-mail each other several times a day for just about every weekday since. I now know a Jamie that is just as friendly as her face is pretty.

Now I know

I soon discovered that I had missed out on a lot since I graduated high school. I had gone deaf and wasn’t myself, but I somehow feel that I should’ve known some things that I didn’t know.

I should’ve known that Andy and Jamie were no longer married. They had finalized their divorce just months after I last saw them on my final Summer Trip with the Youth Group to Orlando, Florida.

I should’ve known that after Andy and Jamie split, their families decided that the no church was big enough for the both of them. Andy’s family no longer attended Bethlehem Baptist Church.

But Jamie recovered from those hardships and moved on. She’s now happily married to Steve, and is pregnant with their first child.

Long ago, I came to understand that people are quick to judge. I admitted in this story that I can be prejudiced. Maybe a person acts a certain way, because, at that time, that’s the only way they know how to respond to something going on in their life that makes them unhappy? Nobody is perfect, so you can’t expect them to handle everything perfectly all of the time. Maybe that person needs someone to take the time to get to know who they really are and be their friend. Or if it doesn’t work out that way, maybe that person will end up with an “unlikely friend”.

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