In honor of back-to-school time, I thought I’d post this story I wrote a few years ago about my dear friend, Janet. I was trying to find a home for it in a magazine, but perhaps this is where it is meant to be. You tell me.
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When Janet breezed into our dorm room that first day our freshman year of college, I immediately knew what she was all about. She didn’t even have to open her mouth; her jacket said it all.
The denim, faded to a perfectly distressed milky blue, the collar frayed into strings of fringe, the buttons worn to a coppery patina—all swirled together into the epitome of everything a college girl wanted to be: hip, smart and carefree.
Her jean jacket was the real deal, and so was she.
During that first year of school, Janet and I became best friends: inseparable and incorrigible. We studied together, laughed together, drank beer together, played lacrosse together, drank more beer together, gained 15 pounds together, and pulled all-nighters together. All along the way, Janet’s Levi jacket was there.
In fact, her jacket seemed to gain a personality all of its own as it absorbed every ounce of college fun laid in its path. It also soaked up everything from our bad hairdos and purple eyeshadow to eccentric professors and weird boyfriends, weaving them deeply into its soft fabric.
At the end of our freshman year, life shipped Janet and me off into different directions for the summer. My dad had died of cancer earlier that year so I immediately began working several jobs to pay my way through our very expensive private college, while Janet sailed to Tahiti with her family on their boat. I couldn’t afford envy, so I celebrated her adventure, and made her promise to send postcards so I could live vicariously.
With hugs and tears, promises of letters, and plans to regroup in the fall, we parted ways. But not before she unceremoniously tossed a bag at me. “Here, I think it’s time for you to have this,” she laughed.